Thor is a comic-book movie made by a Shakespearean -- Kenneth Branagh -- in 3D.
And, intriguingly, he mostly makes it work.
The action is flashy but comprehensible, the script is often witty, the actors serve their roles (instead of vice versa). And the computer-generated imagery -- which dominates roughly half of the film -- is eye-popping, instead of being eye-glazing.
In other words, it's hammer time. (Sorry, couldn't resist that. I've been thinking about it for a month and finally gave in.)
A few weeks back, based only on a two-line synopsis I'd read and the teaser trailer for the film, I told my son I could probably thumbnail the entire Thor plot for him. My prediction was based only on what I'd seen and my knowledge of other first installments of Marvel comic-to-movies transformations. (And have no doubt: If Thor is a hit, it's the first of at least two or three more movies.)
Sure enough, the plot was, in an almost beat-for-beat fashion, just as I'd predicted. Still, it's a better movie than I expected because, for the first half, the writing and action are surprisingly strong. And after a lull in the middle, it came back strong for the finale.
Which doesn't make it a great movie, just a slick piece of product. No doubt, Branagh can talk a great game about the deeper meaning of Thor. But it's just another comic-book movie, built to the Marvel specifications and with the same kind of faux depth that these films aspire to.
The story starts in Asgard, legendary realm of the Norse gods, where we see the king of the gods, Odin (Anthony Hopkins -- does this guy turn down anything?), vanquishing the greatest threat known to the Seven Realms: the Frost Giants (whose king is an unrecognizable Colm Feore -- as if most people would recognize Colm Feore out of makeup). Peace is restored. Yay.
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