After the disappointment of the second Iron Man movie, there was perhaps extra interest in how the next Marvel Studios’ movie would fare – would the build up to The Avengers lose its momentum completely?
Thor is anything but disappointing. In the hands of surprising choice Kenneth Branagh, it’s not simply a superhero origin movie; it may not be the Shakespearean drama that some have claimed it to be, but it’s definitely a cut above the average entry in this genre. There seems to be a temptation for “big” names to phone their performance in for this type of film, but here the cast treat the script as seriously as any other. Anthony Hopkins, in particular, has the necessary gravitas and innate commanding power to sell Odin as the all-powerful ruler of Asgard.
Marvel purists may dislike some of the changes made to Stan Lee’s original comic book (Thor isn’t turned into Dr Donald Blake in this version), but they work well within the context of the film, and while there’s a necessary jump in tone and atmosphere between the Asgardian sections and the Earth-based scenes, they don’t jar against each other as they sometimes have done in the comic book. It’s easier to believe this incarnation of Thor agreeing to become part of The Avengers than some of the variants we’ve met over the years.
Chris Hemsworth – Jim Kirk’s dad from the 2009 Star Trek film – is centre stage for a large part of the film, and carries the weight well, while Tom Hiddleston is brilliantly cast as the conflicted Loki. Natalie Portman’s Jane isn’t as well-rounded as the other characters, but hopefully we’ll get to see more of her in the sequel away from the other characters.
As is becoming common with the Marvel Studios movies, the Blu-ray and DVDs are packed with extras which will take some considerable time to get through. All but the single disc edition include The Consultant, the new mini-movie featuring Agent Coulson, and there are various deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes features.
Verdict: A return to form for the Marvel franchise, which will appeal to comic book fans and the general audience alike. 8/10
Thor is available from Paramount Home Entertainment from September 26.