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I just saw one of the most highly anticipated CBM this year, THOR.
Is THOR worthy of the hype and the overall positive reviews the movie gets? I can heartworthy say “YES”! THOR is wonderfully done. A true tale to astonish.

It’s a though movie to deliver. Big parts of the story happens within other ‘dimensions’ or “realms” as they would call it. It’s difficult to make this concept believable with constant moving from one realm to another.

The Story starts on Earth, where a scientific team of Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Professor Andrews (Stellan Skarsgård) and Darcy (Kat Dennings) hunt for astrometrical anomalies.
They seem to find one when the team bumps into Thor, quite literally, with their car.
From that point one the story kicks of with almost no time to breathe. The voice of Odin (Anthony Hopkins) give us the mechanics and history of the nine realms. Starting with Earth 980 years ago, first introducing the Ice Giants. Then the Asgardians come in play and how peace came within the nine realms. At last Asgard is revealed. We, the audience, are now up to speed with this world the same time the sons of Odin are, to whom Odin is was actually telling this history lesson. Now we, as viewers, are on the same page the main characters.
All this is done in a very clever way. We accept this world, these realms as they where true.
This epic introduction has a quick pace and no second has been spilled. This in combination with the utterly fantastic visuals effects make these worlds believable. This introduction serves as a flashback as we are now introduced to the sons of Odin as they are older, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston).
In as ceremony where Thor would be crowned as King of Asgard, a disturbance takes place and shapes a series of events, together with Thor arrogance, causing a stripping of Thor’s powers and banishment to Earth. Needing a lesson in humility. His first lesson is right after he arrives on Earth and gets hit by Jane Foster’s car. Thor must learn what it takes to be a true hero in order to claim back his enchanted hammer, Mjolnir, and his throne. But standing in his way on are Agent Coulson and the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and his brother, Loki, who unleashes the most fearsome of beings, the Destroyer, to kill Thor and anyone else who stands in his way…

The Mighty Thor is originally a ongoing comicbook series first printed in 1962, taking readers into the realm of the mythical Norse gods.  Sibling rivalry, the prize of a kingdom, vanity and recklessness … all great themes for drama, with the added zing of gods as the main characters.
Thor is an adventure about gods and mortals, father son relationships and sibling rivalry. Good and evil also figure in the tale, but it is the learning of humility that is the story’s main theme.
Thor is an origin story, but doesn’t really feel as one. That’s a good thing. Where origin stories normally takes a big three/quarters of the movie in telling the origin before diving in the action, Thor is different and well balanced.

Cast and crew
Worth mentioning is the films’ director Kenneth Branagh. With his stellar directorial career for Shakespearian movies, I had some doubt that Branagh could pull off a “comic book movie”, my fears were smashed away. It’s obvious from watching THOR that Branagh has studied the original comics and the medium as a whole and has surrounded himself with the best production designers, DP’s et al. I was surprised by Branagh’s direction on THOR. He uses really wide camera shots and obtuse angles that look like they were straight from the pages of a comic, without looking like a comic! He brings both an epicness to the film, but at the same time keeps it grounded in humanity You really care for the characters and you really believe in the world in which they inhabit. Like Jon Favreau and Louis Leterrier before him, Marvel again chose the perfect director outside the comic/blockbuster genre to direct.

The cast is a perfect mix between unknown, drama, theatrical,  and award winning actors. All deliver stellar performances. Having a director of the calibre of Branagh has obviously brought out the best in everyone’s performance.

Anthony Hopkins plays the All-father spot on as his authority as Odin dwafts all other characters sharing  his screen and avoiding the temptation to play it over the top. Greatness, wise and as a king and strict yet compassionate and righteous as a father. There was no better choice to play such a god then Hopkins.

Relative newcomer Chris Hemsworth had his first Hollywood debut in 2009 as George Kirk in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek. Hemsworth just nails the God of Thunder in all it’s diversity. Not only holding his own in esteemed company, but totally convincing as the arrogant but likeable god of thunder. It would be fair to compare Hemsworth to Robert Downey Jr. in terms of how amazingly he manages to translate Thor to a live action character. He’s far from a one trick pony too, as the actor transforms the initially reckless and cocky warrior into the humble, true hero.

It’s Tom Hiddleston as Loki who really steals the show. The film would have faltered if Loki wasn’t convincing as a character. Hiddleston truly delivers a subtle and intelligent performance, totally owning the role and making a truly multi-dimensional ‘villain’. In my opinion, he was my favorite character of the movie. A more than perfect translation from page to screen.  He was sneaky, lovable, believable, sinister and, yet, very human. It shows that you genuinely do not have to have brute strength to thwart an opponent. Absolute genius casting.

Award winner Natalie Portman doesn’t deliver the highest level of performance, but doesn’t really need to. I thought how underwhelming her part was. She’s believable as the science geek and a woman who’s adoration for this tall blonde stranger overwhelms her. She, along with the other earthbound players, never overshadow one another which makes no other character a complete waste of inclusion. The growing chemistry between Jane and Thor is, however fast, believable and never feels forced upon. Not one painfull moment to watch.

Stellan Skarsgård, as Erik Selvig, is a good foil for Portman, acting as the sceptic and counselling caution to Portman’s desire to look beyond science. Kat Dennings, in a small, but valuable role, provides some light relief and never gets annoying, as I have feared she would. Both serve the story well, with Skarsgård in particular having a rather key role in things (no spoilers, but just make sure to stick around for the ‘monkey’* (post-credits) scene).

The Warrior friends of Thor are great, with particular Sif. Jaimie Alexander is as beautiful as Sif’s a fierce warrior.
A special mention to Idris Elba. He played an awesome Heimdall. The bad thing about this movie is he didn’t get more screenplay and action.
The movie has a solid and fast pace. When it gets to clunky of cheesy the story progresses further. Good timed  sequences and well played montage.
The visual effects are stunning as they are realistic. The effects are not in your face or try to cover up bad plot-holes. They are used when needed and not forces upon.

Asgard, is a serene and beautiful world couched in golden tones, with an ornate spinning globe, a key central gold structure resembling gigantic organ pipes. The Asgardian sets are breathtaking, be it a visual effect of a real set-decor. The designs for Asgard in architecture and Asgardian clothing and armor are striking and godlike yet believable. Special compliments go to Lauri Gaffin and Alexandra Byrne here. Great art-direction for Asgard as it dwarfs Coruscant from Star Wars in splendor and design.

Spanning three ‘realms’, Thor is truly epic in scope with Branagh employing plenty of sweeping cinematography and decent use of the 3D format to fully explore the intricately detailed environments. It really injects something new into the Marvel Universe, while the Earth-bound action continues in the same tone as its predecessors, IRON MAN and THE INCREDIBLE HULK,  featuring a good mix of humor and action along with several references to previous films.

The action scenes are stunning. Marvel style battle scenes, just like in the comics. Honestly, there’s a scene on Jotunheim where I just applauded with sheer joy at the awesomeness of it. And there are moments like that throughout. The film is very re-watchable too, because a lot of the action is very frenetic so it’s very easy to miss a lot of the background detail in amongst all the chaos and because the movie is full with details.

It seems Marvel did learn a lesson from IRON MAN 2 in that at no time does the greater MU or the Avengers nods seem to be more important than the main plot. So S.H.I.E.L.D. is an unobtrusive plot device as an agency with a real purpose this time . For the fans there are enough ‘Easter eggs’ to hunt for. They are subtle and never in the way of the storyline or viewing pleasure. Watch carefully in Odin’s strongroom and you’ll may catch a glimpse of the Infinity Gauntlet and the Eye of Agamotto.
The cameos are unintrusive and work seemlessly into the plot. Creator Stan Lee’s cameo is great, quite funny. Writer J. Michael Straczynski got his chance with Mjolnir. We get the gamma scientist reference, we see Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton aka Hawkeye, Stark is mentioned and Samuel L. Jackson is concluding with another appearance  as Nick Fury.
There’s also a nice nod to the upcoming CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, which also seems to set the stage for The Avengers. With off-course a little post credits hint: “Thor will be back in The Avengers.”

Unifying Universe
Injecting the fantastical elements of THOR into the previously established and ‘grounded-in-reality’ universe inhabited by IRON MAN and THE INCREDIBLE HULK was always going to be tricky, but Branagh succeeds in pulling this off. So setting up THE AVENGERS should be made a little easier for Joss Whedon: Seeing Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America work together.

I am struggling to find negatives about this film. Thor is a blast. It’s one of the most entertaining movies I have seen in quite a while. Action packed, exciting, well acted, funny, at times silly, a little cheesy. But I’m not sure what else anyone could expect from a movie based on this character. Time isn’t wasted by dragging out action scenes because you have no story. And that isn’t a problem here. There’s plenty of action – and as I said, they are stunning – but there’s plenty of story to be told too and it’s told well. Kenneth Branagh has done a magnificent job of brining one of the most difficult to adapt characters in comics to the screen. And Marvel deserve every credit for delivering one of their best so far (I would put it only just behind Iron Man). A few gripes aside, a roaring triumph.

THOR is most worthy of your time and money. And, as usual, stick around for the post credits sequence which sets up the story for The Avengers AND ties into Marvel’s forthcoming Captain America movie
A quick word on the 3D, it’s fairly subtle and not a lot of ‘in your face’. There are certain scenes, in Jotunheim for example, where the ‘depth’ does add to the sense of scale, which 2D might not convey as well. The 3D is well done, but it’s never been a format I champion. The actors still seems to be ‘flat’ in the wide spaces.  Watching in 2D will just be as awesome.

The word epic is thrown around a lot these days, whether it’s used for describing trailer, pictures or even news. However, Kenneth Branagh and this amazing cast of actors have created something truly ASTONISHING.

Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment present A Marvel Studios Production of A Film by Kenneth Branagh: “Thor,” starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings, Clark Gregg, Colm Feore, Ray Stevenson, Idris Elba, Jaimie Alexander, Tadanobu Asano, Joshua Dallas, with Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins as Odin. The film is directed by Kenneth Branagh. The screenplay is by Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz and Don Payne, with a story by J. Michael Straczynski and Mark Protosevich. It is produced by Kevin Feige. The executive producers are Alan Fine, Stan Lee, David Maisel, Patricia Whitcher, Louis D’Esposito. The director of photography is Haris Zambarloukos, BSC. The production designer is Bo Welch. The editor is Paul Rubell, A.C.E. The costume designer is Alexandra Byrne. The co-producers are Craig Kyle and Victoria Alonso. The music supervisor is Dave Jordan; the music is by Patrick Doyle.

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