I loved Thor. This should be no surprise; I have been a fan of Marvel’s God of Thunder for years. I love the old Stan and Jack stories, I love Walt Simonson’s near perfect run, I just love Thor. More than any movie save Scott Pilgrim, Thor feels like it was made just for me. My already positive inclination to Thor aside, Thor is the right up there with Iron Man as one of the best movies based on Marvel’s superheroes in recent years.
Marvel’s Thor, based somewhat loosely on the Norse myths, is the arrogant son of Odin, the king of a race of what are basically space-Gods. Cast down to Earth for his arrogance and disobedience, Thor must prove his worth to return to Asgard while dealing with the scheming of his cunning and jealous bother Loki. He is aided on Asgard by his friends the Warriors 3 and the Lady Sif and on Earth by Physicists Jane Foster and Eric Selvig as well as their taser-happy assistant Darcy.
The movie hinges on the trio of Thor, Loki and Odin. Luckily, all three actors, Anthony Hopkins, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, give fine performances. Hopkins fills Odin with the requisite grandeur and Hemsworth has an impressive physical presence and perfect comic timing as Thor, but Hiddleston’s Loki really nails the character. All smiles and false innocence, he is perfectly sneaky, pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes. His plots weave around themselves like Gordian knots. The Earth side of the cast is only slightly less good.
The biggest hurdle Thor clears is its balancing the appeal of the two worlds. While the film tips slightly in favor of the otherworldly Asgard neither drags. Asgard is nearly perfect. It looks like a Renaissance Fair in space, with glittering towers as a rainbow bridge made of glass. It truly looks like the realm of Gods.
The Earth based portions nicely balance the occasionally grandiose cheesiness of Asgard with a scoop of humor and a dash of romance. Even the SHEILD portions, which were intrusive in Iron Man 2, fit mostly seamlessly here.
There are some flaws. Thor’s period of punishment and growth on Earth are quite short. His romance of Jane Foster is similarly rushed. Both are somewhat underdeveloped. In addition, the final showdown, while anything but anticlimactic, is a bit brief. Those flaws are small, niggling things, and while easily ignored do keep the movie from being as good as it could have been. Especially since Thor is not particularly long. An extra scene or two would have made the difference.
Thor does so many things right, though. It never winks about the ridiculousness of its premise, but injects enough humor that it doesn’t become pompous. The sound effects are particularly great as well. Thor’s hammer makes a delicious metallic “thuwummn” when it makes contact. His punches are accompanied by the crack of a gunshot. It is great.
Thor is largely a success. It perfectly captures what makes Thor so great while sanding off the incongruous parts. (Like the Donald Blake identity.) If one can accept the premise of a Space-God come to Earth to learn humility and smash things with his hammer, then Thor is as entertaining a popcorn movie as one is likely to encounter.