Friday, May 20, 2011

Movies: Thor


Marvel Studios enlisted Kenneth Branagh to direct "Thor," and, at first glance, it's a strange choice. Branagh is best known for his Shakespeare adaptations (his extravagant version of "Hamlet" is one of my favorites), and would seemingly be ill at ease at the helm of a big-budget special effects-laden summer blockbuster.

On closer inspection, though, Branagh attracted a bevy of talent to an otherwise unremarkable superhero film script: Oscar winners Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins signed on because of him, as did veteran Stellan Skarsgård (whose silly astrophysicist character often steals the show). Not everyone gets a chance to shine (Kat Dennings spends the whole movie marveling at Thor's body; if you're a guy, you'll probably spend the whole movie marveling at her body), but it's impressive star power nonetheless.

"Thor" is at its best when it focuses on the celestial, green-screened realms of Jötunheimr and Asgard; the action unfolds like a D&D campaign or a Shakespearean epic. In comparison, the events on Earth seem lightweight and flimsy - it's hard to get worked up about Natalie Portman's discovery of wormholes when gods are battling for supremacy a scene away. The hijinks with S.H.I.E.L.D. that occupy the middle of the film, for instance, are about as interesting as watching ants crawl on a sidewalk.

Rating: 6/10

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