Thor DVD Review

Thor, as Kenneth Branagh’s foray into the world of the superhero may seem surprising; a quick glance, however, at the prevailing themes and his choice is suddenly rather appropriate. Familial tensions, power hungry siblings and tendencies towards acts of hubris all feature at the forefront of this colourful imagining of the gilded halls of Asgard: all these are areas Branagh is truly at home with.

Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is to be crowned king of Asgard in place of his elderly, if still puissant, father (Anthony Hopkins’ Odin) but the ceremony is disrupted by an incursion of a squad of ice giants, age-old enemies of Asgard. Various bad decisions are made by Thor Odinson in retaliation and he is eventually cast out of Asgard and stripped of his powers. Landing on earth, mortal and outraged, he is found by a young scientist (Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster) seeking proof of Einstein-Rosen Bridge phenomena (that’s wormholes to us plebs). As you do.

Glorious and sumptuous on the big screen, golden Asgard is a rather stunning vision of celestial aesthetics. Huge glittering palaces and sweeping aerial views in place of traditional Viking lodges and frost swept beaches give this version of the Norse pantheon a definite magnificence, and while the impact is a little dimmed on the smaller screen, this is still a very beautiful movie. Branagh has also done an excellent job with the tone of the source material: what could have been a very silly film finds a good balance between self-mockery and an effectively dramatic pitch. The splendour and pomp of Asgard is in no way made ridiculous by the sudden switch to the real world, instead it shows how weak and vulnerable Thor has become in comparison to his formerly deified glory. This subversion is neatly softened by Thor’s belated and humorous realisation of his own mortality. Suddenly he is no longer the god Thor: wielder of the hammer Mjolnir, whose power has no equal; instead he is Thor: big guy taken down by a teenager with a taser.

Tom Hiddleston as the trickster god, Loki, is excellent – just the right balance of charmer and creep – and somehow very volatile. Hemsworth’s turn as the pompous ‘straight’ god is enjoyable and as he becomes more accustomed to life as a mortal, his softer side is equally well played. There are, however, a few rough edges to the story and you do get the feeling that Branagh has been forcefully stripped of an hour or so to fully depict the burgeoning love story between Portman’s scientist and the golden haired god. As a result, this feels rushed and a little silly – they barely know each other and don’t really spend vast amounts of time staring longingly into one another’s eyes, which is what we have come to expect of star-crossed lovers. Thor is also guilty of the now obligatory ‘shoehorning of a Marvel character’ as a set up for the forthcoming Avengers flick, with a brief glimpse of Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, and while I am quite prepared to watch anything with Renner in, it does feel affected and unnecessary.

A few extras include the standard deleted scenes and directorial commentary – plus a ‘Road to the Avengers’ featurette. Come on Marvel – we know about the Avengers. No need to hammer it home. Hammer. Get it?

Hannah Turner

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