The spoiler-free version of this review: go see the movie, and don’t leave while the credits are rolling.
Cast and Crew Information
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Natalie Portman as Jane Foster
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Anthony Hopkins as Odin
Stellan Skarsgard as Erik Selvig
Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis
Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson
Maximiliano Hernandez as Agent Sitwell
Idris Elba as Heimdall
Colm Feore as Laufey
Ray Stevenson as Volstagg
Tadanobu Asano as Hogun
Josh Dallas as Fandral
Jaimie Alexander as Sif
Rene Russo as Frigga
Cameos under spoiler guard:
J. Michael Straczynski as the townie who finds Mjolnir
Stan Lee as the guy with the truck
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton / Hawkeye
Written by J. Michael Straczynski, Mark Protosevich, Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz and Don Payne. Joss Whendon did an uncredited rewrite to make sure it aligns with his plans for The Avengers.
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Thor is about to ascend to the throne of Asgard when he makes a mistake and is exiled to Midgard instead.
This is a superhero movie that understands subtlety. There are no shortage of superhero movies these days, and this is as loaded with comic book Easter eggs as Iron Man 2 was. However, these feel far more natural. Like many who will see the movie, my sister hasn’t read the source material. After watching Iron Man 2, she could easily point out the Easter eggs, though she couldn’t explain what they meant. I don’t think she’ll be able to do that with this one. Quick poll for those who have seen the movie: how many of you noticed the tourism billboard in New Mexico that encouraged people to “Journey Into Mystery” when watching this?
Agent Sitwell, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent surpassed only by Nick Fury himself, did jack squat. I’m actually surprised they create Coulson instead of using Sitwell in the original Iron Man, and they finally introduce Sitwell and he does nothing. Check out “Tales of Suspense #93-99” to see what I mean. Sitwell’s introduction to “Iron Man” planted S.H.I.E.L.D. in Marvel continuity and transformed the types of stories told using Iron Man.
This is an original type of superhero film. Rather than having a regular guy gain powers, we see a superpowered individual transformed into a regular guy. While there is certainly huge scope and spectacle involved, there are numerous subtle points to help map the hero’s journey. (Watch things like fighting styles throughout the film, expectations of servitude, and Loki’s manipulative dialog for the best examples.) I give it 5 out of 6.
The effects were well done. The 3D version is nice, but I don’t know that much would be lost by seeing the 2D version instead. For starters, it’s the first 3D movie I’ve seen that keeps all action and objects in the plane behind the physical screen instead of coming out at the audience. I kept expecting them to save the “out at the audience” effects for impact with something significant later in the film, but that never happened, which came across as a bit of a distraction for me. That’s really the only nitpick I have, and give the film 5 out of 6.
The story is well formed and constructed. If anything, the only real weak point is the lack of definition for Jane Foster. She’s a dedicated researcher, but she goes from “driven at work” to “puppy love outside work” with next to nothing in between. She’s the classic 1960s “love interest for the sake of a love interest” with an excuse to get involved before she falls in love. I give it 4 out of 6.
The acting is solid all around. The casting agents were definitely on the right track when they put this group together. Everyone involved both looks and acts the parts as written. I give it 5 out of 6.
The production is well done. Branagh’s Shakespearean background lends itself well to the Asgardian scale, and his attention to detail is fantastic. We see Thor, Loki, Hogun, Fandrall, Volstagg and Sif in battle, and each fights with a unique style. Thor’s fighting style actually changes as his character arc progresses throughout the story. I give it 6 out of 6.
The emotional response is very good. I’m not a huge Thor fan, as I find it hard to feel concerned about a god who is up against a mortal threat. This handles that very well, and pulls me into the story nicely. I give it 5 out of 6.
Overall, it’s a strong movie that follows the tight throughline to The Avengers without distracting the audience along the way. I give it 5 out of 6.
In total, Thor receives 35 out of 42.