Review: The falling stars and hammers of Thor

We were never quite sure of what to think about Thor leading up to its release, but now we know: it’ll be a classic.

Comicbook films are well-known for a certain lack of depth, and for an apathy to the audience that fells cold and sometimes barren, but Marvel has been lately turning out excellent films. The Iron Man films were better than anyone could have expected, making up for the Hulk and Fantastic Four films of years gone by.

Thor was a bit of an enigma, however. His character isn’t always entirely likable, and his story isn’t entirely compelling.

Was Marvel going to be able to pull Thor into a film with as much quality and heart as Iron Man and its sequel we wondered?

We have our answer as of this weekend: they have outdone themselves.

The overture of the film takes place out in the astral realms of Asgard and Jotunheim. The world of Asgard is beautiful, and shows off well the 3D visuals, if you’ve a chance to see the 3D version.

The spires and halls of the mythical land are gorgeous, and seamless, helping the audience to, not marvel at the intricacies ofthe CGI, but to forget that it even is CGI (which is ultimately the point, right?).

Said overture was much longer than many in the audience would be used to, crossing nearly 40 minutes off the film simply with the basic set-up for the plot.

It doesn’t suffer for this,however, as it lends itself strongly to Thors character, helping us really see his pre-epihany character in a solid and clarifying light, rather than just telling us how he rolls.

The actual conflict of the plot is not as large in scope as I had believed it would be. I thought that Thor was going to have to overcome some great powerful force, which was threatening to destroy the entire Earth: typical superhero film fare. Instead, the story of the film was surprisingly touching.

Thor’s main conflic was truely with himself, and the only danger was to his close friends, and came from a villain which was sympathetic. The themes of family and sacrifice and regret are strong, but don’t overpower the film. We get a real introduction to Thor himself, not just his powers and his past.

The role is the kind that makes stars, and Chris Hemsworth – previously best known for his work in Australian soaps – deserves whatever it brings him. He plays equally well the vengeful, naive berserker and the gentle, humbled prince. While Hemsworth shines, all of the casting is exceptional. Hopkins, despite little actual screen time, makes a great Odin, and Portman is as innocently hot as always in the role of Thor’s human romantic interest.

Though not surprising, it’s worth mentioning that the effects and fights were all masterly crafted. Even if the rest of the film had steamed, the action sequences would be worth the price of the 3D admission.

I also enjoyed the depiction of the Asgardians as an ancient and powerful alien race. I couldn’t help but think how much cooler these Asgardians are compared to the ones depicted in Stargate.

The Marvel film universe is really shaping up, and I think that when these films are all finished, we’ll have a really nice franchise of films telling timeless tails in superior style. I can’t wait for Captain America to drop this summer. I’ll be happy if it’s half as good as Thor.