To get one thing out of the way quickly, yes, Thor is not technically a Disney movie. It is, however, produced by Marvel Studios, which is a subsidiary of Disney. After this summer’s Captain America film, all future Marvel films will be released by Disney, so I’m counting Thor as a Disney film.
With that taken care of, let’s talk about the film, shall we? Based on the Marvel comic book character more so than the Norse mythology, Thor is a comic book movie at its finest, full of action, drama, romance, and character. It’s extremely fast paced, witty, and packed with visual effects. But does the combination of that make a great film?
In my opinion, yes. Thor takes the best elements of super hero films and combines them with storytelling in a very exciting fashion. Kenneth Branagh, known for his direction mainly in Shakespearean films, takes the helm of Thor with authority, steering through a morass of mythology to tell a modern story of family and romance. This is no easy task. Thor has lots of story to tell, so fitting it into this film would be a difficult task for most directors.
The film opens with Thor’s crash to earth, where he collides with a group of scientists led by Jane Foster, portrayed by Natalie Portman. It’s from there that we get the full story of how the God of Thunder was expelled from his mystical home in Asgard. It’s a story of pride and arrogance that shows how far the character has to travel to become a hero, as well as providing motivation for the villain of the piece, Thor’s brother, Loki.
Once this story is told and we return to Earth, the focus is on Thor’s romance with Jane and his quest to return to Asgard. Through trickery of Loki, Thor is convinced to remain on Earth, only to face an invasion of Asgardian danger trying to keep him from returning. The action flies effortlessly between Thor’s friends on Asgard and his struggles on Earth.
The thing that makes all of this work is Chris Hemsworth’s portrayal of Thor. There are several ways things could have gone with Thor, either a serious god morose from his troubles or a straight man for other’s jokes. Instead, Hemsworth and Branagh bring to life a fun loving braggart with a zest for life. Hemsworth’s Thor is a man who would drink with you one moment, fight you the next and, share a laugh afterward.
His humor makes the film and manages to help paper over some of the more inconsistent parts. Much like Iron Man 2, the interruption of SHIELD into the proceedings seems to slow things down and make you feel like this is only one part of a larger story rather than a film on its own. To some degree that’s true, since Thor will return in the Avengers film, and the post credits sequence make that clear.
There are little things to nitpick here and there that make Thor a bit inconsistent at times, but overall, it’s a fabulous and fun film. These days, with so many movies trying to make a serious point when they don’t have to, it’s refreshing to see a film that revels in the absurdity and excitement of superheroes like Thor and does so while being fairly family friendly.