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PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence.


Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and Adaptation


May 6, 2011


Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings, Clark Gregg, Idris Elba, Rene Russo


Kenneth Branagh


Paramount Pictures


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Hannah Goodwyn Producer

Like most comic books partially set in sci-fi land, Paramount Pictures’ new blockbuster hopeful, Thor, is a little hokey. A rainbow bridge, a magic hammer, and frost-bit alien men (the Frost Giants). For the non-comic book fan, it will be over-the-top. For Thor admirers, it is possible that this $150-million budgeted movie is the start of a good blockbuster summer.

Simply put, Thor is a sci-fi/superhero, popcorn movie about humility. The spectacular images Director Kenneth Branagh’s special effects team created (not including the dinky, prop of a town), the Oscar winners on the cast -- Sir Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman, and a few funny scenes, though they are appreciated, aren’t enough to make this one to purposely see this weekend. Thor's weaknesses and the fact that audiences have to don 3D glasses push it down to the Microwave Bag rating.

The Movie in a Minute

Thor, a powerful warrior prince, is cast out of his realm, Asgard, by his father, King Odin, for his arrogant disobedience. Exiled to Earth with his hammer - Mjolnir, Thor tries to adapt to his less powerful self and to a human way of life. Just as he falls for a physicist named Jane, Thor’s courage and humanity are tested when a dangerous enemy threatens his realm and Earth.

The Good and Bad in Thor

Legendary comic book creator Stan Lee, who collaborated on the creation of heroes such as Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, Iron Man, Hulk, and others, fashioned his hammer-wielding hero from Norse mythology. Ancients believed Thor was the god of Thunder, an idea that is built into Lee’s character. He can manipulate the weather with his hammer, and fly at sonic speeds.

Filmmaker/actor Kenneth Branagh took on the challenge of filming Thor’s story for the big screen, a departure from his past directing work, which consists mainly of motion pictures based on Shakespearean plays (Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It). Branagh directs Oscar winners (Sir Anthony Hopkins as King Odin, Natalie Portman as Dr. Jane Foster), familiar faces (Rene Russo as Thor’s mother) and new ones (Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tom Hiddleston as his younger brother, Loki). The wide range of acting experience is less noticeable as one might think, given Sir Anthony Hopkins is featured. Granted, no one deserves high award honors for their work on Thor; but, they weren’t half bad either.

Though it offers a few funny dialogue lines (mostly given by Kat Dennings, who plays Dr. Jane Foster’s assistant) and entertaining moments, Thor is lacking in the thrill department. Summer blockbuster movies are supposed to wow; Thor just doesn’t hit that mark. Every superhero needs a good villain. However, at no time do the “Frost Giants” inspire fear. They are strange looking, and don't uphold the adversarial need in the plot. The real threat within Asgard meets the villainy need left by unconvincing frozen guys.

Thor's superhero story emphasizes the importance of listening to wise counsel, obeying one's father, and exchanging personal arrogance and pride for courage and pliability. For the amount of narrative covered, and characters to introduce and develop, Thor is structured well. Even those moviegoers who don’t know the comic book stories can follow along.

Rated PG-13, Thor is one of the cleanest comic book movies recently released, with respect to its lack of foul language and sexual content. Parents should be aware that Thor does contain a good amount of sci-fi action and violence, hence the rating.

Don't think Thor is your kind of comic book movie? Don't worry Marvel has another big release this summer with Captain America: The First Avenger starring Chris Evans (coming July 22, 2011).

*If you do see Thor in theaters, stay through the credits at the end. You will see a clip that hints to what may be coming next from the Marvel Comics movie machine.

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