The headline says it all, right? OK, I'm outta here!
When Thor was announced as the next Marvel Studios movie, I'll admit some trepidation. How would they take the grounded world of Iron Man, and even The Incredible Hulk, and apply it to gods, other worlds, and truly larger-than-life figures? The answer to that question is fantastic writing, stellar acting, perfect casting, great humor, solid drama, and a dash of everybody-loves-it romance. Oh, and action, action, action.
While the early scenes of the movie seem to start off somewhat strangely, there's no denying the instant chemistry of the group of researchers that will serve to ground Thor later. Both Natalie Portman and Stellan Skarsgård shine, with very little jargon but still sounding incredibly knowledgable. The quirky and perky Kat Dennings stands out as Darcy, providing comic relief not only in that opening scene but throughout the movie. Every line she uttered was an instant laugh and a scene stealer.
The realm of Asgard and Jotunheim (the frost giants' world) were absolutely incredible to look at. From the first panning shot of this other-worldly site, it was easy to be taken in and feel that you had entered the home of gods. While these landscapes were done mostly in CGI, it wasn't jarring in any way. Instead, every building, every room, every mythical device that served as a mixture of magic and science was awe-inspiring from the get go.
Like the supporting cast on Earth, the Asgaradian supporting cast was a mixture of strong and funny. While Volstagg's food habit provided some laughs from Ray Stevenson, his real value was in the we've-been-friends-for-centuries feeling between him, Hogun, and Fandral. Relative newcomer Jaimie Alexander played Sif as not someone who was proud to be a woman amongst otherwise all-male warriors, but more as someone who expected to be there (and proved herself throughout). Idris Elba's Heimdall, the source of some controversy during the casting, was deadpan, powerful, and even got a big laugh as well. He was the perfect choice for the god that can see anything he casts his gaze towards. Last but not least is Anthony Hopkins as Odin, the all-father. He doesn't appear very often, but when he does, he clearly commands the entire room (and likely commanded the soundstage just as well).
That brings us to our principals, Thor played by Chris Hemsworth and Loki played by Tom Hiddleston. Loki was perhaps the most perfect casting done in a Marvel movie to date. Granted, he was helped by the writing team and the expert direction by Kenneth Branagh, but Hiddleston's playing of this character as a truly tortured and misunderstood man-child was a highlight of the film. You feel for this villainous character and can even understand a bit of why he does what he does. Hemsworth meanwhile plays Thor as someone who simply loves being who he is. He is a god amongst men, incredibly powerful, incredibly charismatic, and loves life. Even when things don't exactly go his way, he has this sense of just knowing it will turn out right. It doesn't hurt that Hemsworth has incredible chemistry with every single person he shares screentime with. Whether it's an argument, a fight, a sullen stare, or a kiss on the hand, the actors and audience alike can't keep their eyes off him. Hemsworth could have chemistry with a rock, and in fact does have a bit with his hammer Mjolnir.
The story of this film both fits certain heroic structures and breaks them. There are some tropes you may expect out of it that you'll find missing and be thankful for that. There are major action sequences, sometimes more than one, in each act, but somehow they made each one just the right length and just the right weight. Each action scene feels more important than the last. With all that charisma, romance between Hemsworth's Thor and Portman's Jane Foster grows, but it never feels forced or cheap. It helps that Jane Foster is a likable, determined woman who simply believes in and supports Thor, all the while having her own adventures and showing her own strength. There are cameos of both the Avenging and creative kind that will get die-hard fans' hearts thumping, and oh man, that end-credits sequence. That's right, like the other Marvel Studios films there is an extra scene after the credits, and you must stay in your seat for this one. Take a deep breath before it starts, though, as you may forget to breath during it.
All this came together fantastically. In a movie with more fantasy and science fiction than the other three Marvel Studios films combined, Thor somehow also had more humanity and relatability. This is the best of the Marvel Studios films so far, but more than that, this is just one great, exciting, and riveting movie. Beautiful backdrops, fantastic actors who were clearly having fun, story and dialogue that gave them something great to do and directing that walked the line of freedom and restriction perfectly all add up to a must-see film.
Thor is worthy.
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