Based on the Marvel comic book, the action in “Thor” really begins with our hero about to be named king by his father (Anthony Hopkins, classing up the joint). Seconds before daddy says the words, “You are king,” Frost Giants from an enemy realm interrupt the ceremony. Furious that his big day has been marred Thor (Chris Hemsworth) disobeys his father and skips realms to confront the invaders. His punishment for his reckless, arrogant behaviour is banishment to Earth and the arms of meteorologist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).
Richard: Mark, its hammer time! Thor, the ball peen superhero is big, loud cheesy fun. It feels a bit like an amuse bouche to the all-superhero-all-the-time Avengers movie coming next year, but as an origin movie it gets the job done. Unlike its star, the incredibly buff Chris Hemsworth, the movie is a bit soft in the middle. It starts off well, slows to a crawl midway, but as soon as Thor Gets His Groove back... er... Gets His Hammer Back the movie gets back on track. What did you think?
Mark: Well, it did feel long to me. In fact, my ath ith thtill a bit thor. But I liked the way it moved back and forth between the worlds of Earth and Thor's home planet. It almost felt like two different movies were going on, but just almost. At first I couldn't believe that Kenneth Branagh would direct a comic book movie, but the film does have a Shakespearean feel at times. What say you, Richard?
RC: It’s a greatest hits of Willy's themes—love, deception, death and daddy issues and Anthony Hopkins classes up the joint a little bit, although the way he chews the scenery it's like he hasn't eaten in a month, but I wish it didn't sag in the middle. The Natalie Portman love story is the weakest thing about the movie.
MB: And Portman is the weakest link in the film, period. But what about the lead, Chris Hemsworth? I thought he was very good in a ludicrous role, and the twinkle in his eye and swagger in his step really made the part bearable, as did his spectacular pecs.
RC: Couldn't agree more about Portman. She's miscast. Kat Dennings, in a throwaway role that she turns into a charismatic supporting part, would have been a better and more interesting lead. As for Hemsworth, initially I didn't know if he was going to cut it with his oh-so-serious line delivery, but later, his realization that as “the Mighty Thor" has lost some of his powers is fun. The movie is actually a lot funnier than I thought it would be.
MB: Intentionally funny, I might add, which is unusual for this kind of movie. I liked the visuals on Planet Whatever, they were rich and deep, which is more than I can say for the now-mandatory 3D, which I found tepid. But not the noise level! Talk about Hammer time! I'm just getting my hearing back now.