Thor, Chris Hemsworth, Kenneth Branagh, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins

Last night I had an opportunity to see Thor, which I was excited about because the last film I saw in the theater was Cedar Rapids and that's kind of pathetic.

On the whole, I would say that I found Thor extremely entertaining and it was perhaps helped by my diminished expectations of the film.

I will say that at nearly 2 hours long, the film never dragged for me. And despite the final conflict feeling a little slapdash, I definitely wanted to see more!

I've talked with a few people in the comments section of the last two comics about my concerns the Thor is another set up for The Avengers in a similar vein to Iron Man 2. It is and it isn't. The film tells a crafty origin story that is unfortunately a little light on Asgardian ass-kicking. A little too much time spend on Earth in civilian clothes is good for character development, but it didn't exactly send my geek heart racing.

But, like I said, the film is entertaining and well-crafted. I can't criticize it for what I wanted it to be. I can only criticize it for what it is. And I would say it's pretty darn good!

The following are some random thoughts and observations about Thor. Let's see if any of them ring true to you, shall we?

  • It's easy to see why Chris Hemsworth was cast as Thor. He is confident, likable and not at all the dumb jock that I kind of think of Thor as being.
  • That said, whatever color they dyed Hemsworth's beard and eyebrows was really distracting in close ups.
  • I kind of wish they had Hemsworth wear Thor's winged helmet for more than one scene.
  • Director Kenneth Branagh did an admirable job with the direction, providing a few fake out moments and non-linear storytelling devices that kept me engaged throughout.
  • Let it also be known that Kenneth Branagh never met a Dutch angle he didn't like. This film is littered with them, but it works. It adds to the aura of comic book dramatics without going overboard like Ang Lee's Hulk did.
  • People credit Branagh for bringing "Shakespearean gravitas" to the movie. But the fatherly themes in the plot are so pronounced, I wonder if anyone would be making that observation if, say, Martin Campbell were directing.
  • Natalie Portman is very, very pretty.
  • Why the hell is Natalie Portman in this movie? I mean, I know she's no stranger to big-budget science fiction and fantasy (Hello, Queen Amidala!) but at this point, a movie like Thor seems a little below her station, don't you think?
  • There is almost no need for Kat Dennings' character except to provide comic relief, but she makes the most of every scene she's in and damn near walks off with this movie. I was more interested in the things her character had to say than anything Natalie Portman's character had to say.
  • I love that Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson is running around in the background. Gregg plays him perfectly with a touch of playful impatience.
  • Everyone caught Jeremy Renner's cameo as the future Avenger Hawkeye during the scene where Thor first tries to reclaim his hammer, right?
  • Jeremy Renner kind of looks like Daniel Craig's younger brother to me. They both have a heavy brow.
  • Even though I know Ray Stevenson (who most recently played The Punisher) was the actor who played Volstagg, every time I saw him on screen, I was convinced it was Chris Noth.
  • Hey, is that Renee Russo as Thor's mom? Long time, no see!
  • Yes, Anthony Hopkins kills it as Odin. But he could do a role like this in his sleep.
  • I feel like I'm supposed to say something about Tom Hiddleston as Loki. He did a good job making him a sympathetic villain at the outset, but kind of tipped over into cartoonish super-villainy at the end.
  • The Destroyer is awesome and I want an action figure, please.
  • RE: The Destroyer "Is that one of Stark's?" "I don't know. That guy never tells me anything." The humor in Thor was pretty sharp.
  • Bonus points for the Donald Blake reference - Thor's mortal alter ego in the early comics. Kudos for the writers for not getting bogged down in that and telling a straightforward original story. Well, as straightforward a story about inter-dimensional warriors using weapons crafted with equal parts magic and science as you can.
  • I was also very impressed with how the effects department brought Thor's unique powers to the screen. They could have easily had him hitting stuff with his hammer or call down lightning and leave it at that. But having him take flight, carried behind Mjolnir was very well done. Similarly, Thor twirling Mjolnir around by the strap was something I didn't think they'd be able to translate from the comics as well as they did.
  • Production design for this movie is off the charts. From the costumes, to the Frost Giants, to the rich detail and rendering of Asgard - these images were truly otherworldly and God-like.
  • With this in mind, the fictional town in New Mexico where Thor lands looks faker than fake. In fact, I'm not sure there were even any roads that lead to or from that town. It literally looks like it sprung up overnight by a Hollywood construction crew.
  • Did anyone else find the use of the Foo Fighters song "Walk" over the end credits completely out of place?
  • Stick around after the credits for a bonus scene. I probably don't have to tell you that, but it doesn't hurt to remind you.

That's all I've got on Thor. It's quite a bit, actually! What are your thoughts? Leave your comments below!