‘Thor’ Review

Published 4 years ago by , Updated October 5th, 2011 at 5:07 pm,

thor movie reviews Thor Review
Screen Rant’s Vic Holtreman reviews Thor

While I suppose Fast Five has claimed the early bird title of the film that kicked off the U.S. 2011 summer movie season, Thor is starting off what will be a summer heavy with superhero films. The question on everyone’s mind is will it start things off with a bang or a whimper?

Overall the story is pretty straightforward: Thor is the favored son of Odin over brother Loki, Thor is not shy about his position (poor self-esteem is NOT one of his problems), he disobeys his father, bringing danger to Asgard, is banished, and must somehow become “worthy” in order to regain his place (and power) in the kingdom.

Banishment sends Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to Earth – specifically to the outskirts of a very small town in New Mexico and into the company of Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Jane is an astrophysicist whose research lies outside the mainstream – she’s a bit of a free spirit (for a scientist). Working with her is a veteran scientist  played by Stellan Skarsgård and a young, annoyingly goofy assistant played by Kat Dennings. They come upon the relatively de-powered Thor and can’t seem to separate themselves from his company.

Thor’s arrival was followed by that of the mighty Mjolnir, his magic-imbued (or here, in the film, more science than magic) hammer. Mjolnir comes to the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D. and our favorite man in black, Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg). Mjolnir can only be lifted/used by those who are worthy, and due to his being cast out, Thor is not able to retrieve it from the compound surrounding it.

Meanwhile, his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is in Asgard and up to no good. He eventually delivers a message to Thor that leaves our erstwhile hero completely disheartened and resigned to his fate – to live out the rest of his life as a mere mortal on Earth.

The film has two very distinct personalities: Asgard (and the celestial realm) – and Earth (specifically, small town New Mexico). When the film is in Asgard and points beyond, it is completely engaging and engrossing. Complaints about how silly the costumes/armor looked in early photos will vanish, as they look like they completely belong. While there is a bit of humor, there is no tongue-in-cheek to be found in these off-world locations, and I for one was very thankful for that.

tom hiddleston thor Thor Review

Tom Hiddleston as Loki in 'Thor'

Asgard is where the movie really shines, and it is there that Tom Hiddleston, as Loki, steals the film. Director Kenneth Branagh coaxes a nuanced performance from him that is very far from a mustache-twirling villain. He is not just conflicted – you can actually be tempted to take his side despite the dark path he follows. He just does an amazing job and will probably be a lot of folks’ favorite character from the film.

Anthony Hopkins is as regal and powerful as ever – and when early on he puts Thor in his place with a mighty bellow you’ll feel like maybe you should shut the heck up and pay attention as well. Ray Stevenson as “bulky” warrior Volstag is nigh unrecognizable under all that beard and hair but he plays the boisterous soldier well and with a touch of fun. Jaimie Alexander is a believable female warrior and acquits herself well – playing it strong while still seeming a lady.

A contender for “favorite character” in the film will be Idris Elba as Heimdall, the sentry and gatekeeper of Asgard. He is not on screen very long, but he’s a commanding presence every time he appears. He has a regal, noble, powerful sense about him that commands and holds your attention, and you’ll be wishing he had more screen time in the movie.

idris elba heimdall thor Thor Review

Idris Elba as Heimdall in 'Thor'

And then we have the part of the story that takes place on Earth. This is where the trademark Marvel movie humor was injected into the film, and for me, much of it was overly goofy and overused. There were a couple of funny moments that were a bit more restrained that I enjoyed (a post-drinking scene between Hemsworth and Skarsgård was short, subtle and quite funny).

The tone for the humor in the film was set right from the opening, which had me groaning and concerned for what might come during the course of the movie. I found the opening scene semi-ludicrous (imagine a tornado chaser wanting to drive right INTO the tornado, that also has a lightning storm happening inside it), and the sophomoric humor brought to the first few scenes courtesy of Dennings’ character left me cold (although the audience I was with seemed to enjoy it). Things evened out over time (thankfully), but still, parts of the movie that took place on Earth left me yearning for a return to Asgard.

To his credit, Chris Hemsworth did a fine job playing the supremely arrogant Thor – arrogant even without his super-powers. He softened by the end of the film (a bit too suddenly, I think) but he was believable on both sides of the personality shift. He was very charming even in his arrogance. Natalie Portman didn’t really have a lot to do here and seemed like she could have been played by most any attractive young thirty-something actress – nothing really of note in her performance. Then again, she really wasn’t given much to do.

chris hemsworth thor1 Thor Review

Chris Hemsworth as the de-powered Thor

Asgard interiors looked amazing, although the exteriors looked a little to “Star Wars prequel” for my taste. The design they came up with for the rainbow bridge was both impressive (you try making a “rainbow bridge” real) and effective. Another great design was that of the gateway – very visually interesting in both appearance and function. Jotunheim, the planet of the Frost Giants was appropriately vast and barren, although the monstrous creature seen in the trailers looked a bit CGI-ish.

There were multiple battles throughout the film to keep action-lovers sated, and although the final battle on Earth seemed a bit disappointing, the early battle with the Frost Giants from Jotunheim and a final face-off in Asgard are pretty damned epic. Especially in the former you definitely get a sense of the incredible power of Thor. If I have any complaints it’s that the fight scenes were shot in that uber-annoying, close-in, super-choppy-editing style. The darkness in some of the scenes compounded with the darkening of the 3D glasses/effects made some of it look extremely murky.

Speaking of 3D, while I think the concept of post-production 3D is terrible (if you’re going to make a 3D movie, SHOOT it using 3D cameras), I didn’t see any of the usual telltale signs of after-the-fact 3D: the back of an actor’s head floating apart from his face, the look of 2D layers separated by artificial depth, etc. On the other hand, there’s nothing much here to make this worth seeing in 3D. If you can see it in 2D, I recommend you just do that instead.

For the Marvel fans, the appearance of Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye in the film seemed superfluous – it was there more as a tie-in to the Avengers movie and as a little Easter egg for you. Yes, they did incorporate Thor’s alter-ego Donald Blake into the film in a offhand and creative way – and I will not spoil for you how Thor used his hammer and whether it matched his use of Mjolnir in the comics. simple smile Thor Review

Overall, Thor was a very enjoyable ride that combined epic action and scenery, but not at the expense of letting the audience get to know some great characters. Right now I’d say this is probably the second best Marvel-produced superhero movie, behind the first Iron Man.

If you want to talk freely about the film without worrying about spoiling it for others, please head on over to our Thor Spoilers Discussion.

Here’s a trailer for Thor:

[poll id=”151″]

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. Apparently you can’t read Daniel. I said that I don’t care for superheros.

    And that this site covers more then just that genre.
    Hopefully that made sense. I can’t draw pictures for ya like in the comics.

    • “My point was that I’m really kinda sick of superhero films in general.”

      “The endless speculation on superhero films, casting, plot, canon violations, costume pics, character villians, sure takes up a lot of space around here.”

      I can read just fine. Are you forgetful about what you say?

      You’re sick of Super heroes. You’re sick of the coverage of Super Hero films. This site mostly covers super hero films. You admit as much up above. I know lack of logic is your big character flaw, but that’s what it looks like.

      Not to mention you living the site would just be great anyway.

  2. “There’s lots of genres on this site.”

    That means other types of films like horror, science fiction, dramas, independent films, lame animation cartoons, comedies are also chatted about. Those are the genres or types of films I would rather disqus.

    Can you grasp my statement yet?

    As you pointed out, superhero chatter is taking over this site. I agree it sucks for me, but I’m certainly not going to leave because it would make your day. No I usually avoid those posts. Just happened that I commented on the Thor review.

    • 790, if you don’t like to read about superhero movies you are on the WRONG site.


  3. Am I on the wrong site or is hollywood pumping out garbage?

    Hello I’m 790, and welcome to perspectives,,,

    • You’re on the wrong site because we love superhero movies – when we had a tagline, that was in it.


      • Ouch.. and there it is! In the words of Stan the Man.. “Nuff Said!”

        Now, moving right along!

  4. wow…how of all places did we end up here. People want to come to see what others think about a movie that they have waited over a year to see. why would you guys want to push people away from a site that needs as meany visitors as possible? Walmart isn’t so successful because people don’t go there’ of all the streets to walk would you pick the one where the roar of guns were the loudest? Lets reintroduce our ability to act like mature adults who are willing to procure a site that we visit regularly by making sure the gunfights in the comments section don’t override the topic I’m going to go to work now you can all bang on your keyboards as much as you like in response I only ask that we don’t continue to let our asses override our mouths

  5. I recall the tagline was, “Movie News Without the Sugar Coating”,,,

    When did that change to “Screen Rant, we love Superheros!”

    • 790,

      Dude, seriously. Between your 100% contrarian/flame-baiting comments, antagonizing other commenters, constant conspiracy theory “education,” and dragging virtually every comment thread off topic I am truly about done.


      • You said it pal 😉

  6. without the sugar coating doesn’t mean full of people or even one person who will make derogatory or slanderous comments if they don’t agree with someone else’s personal opinion
    Thor was a great movie, better than Iron Man can’t wait for Captain America!

  7. Still talking about Thor right?

    1. Kat Dennings should have been written out of the movie
    2. Loki stole the show acting-wise
    3. I wish I had not seen the movie in 3D. It was too busy.

    I gave it a 4/5 – but Jane Fosters underdeveloped character could totally justify a 3.5/5. That being said I will probably see it again in theaters… maybe twice 😛

  8. Although not directly from the comic books, it is enough to hold the avid reader and still entertain the novice. I though it was better than the movie that introduced it, Iron Man 2.

  9. This movie was really good. It is another great addition to recent marvel incarnations.

  10. Plastic, without the Fantastic!

    I watched this with an Actor friend, and was embarrassed to have invited him for dinner and out this on TV!