“Thor” was released this weekend in Australia, and I was able to catch it. Wow, I liked it a lot. When the cast and crew was first announced I had my doubts, but Kenneth Branagh and Chris Hemsworth really came through.
It’s not the whiz bang how cool is every frame in “Iron Man” popcorn flick, but it is able to feel part of the same world while carving out its own identity at the same time.
Marvel Studios is finally able to have a say in their movies, and Iron Man was the first in what’s kind of a shared universe. The Studio is acting like a TV show runner that is making sure all the different movies have enough to tie them all together. For example Clark Gregg appeared as SHIELD Agent Coulson in Iron Man 1 & 2, and came back for a major part in Thor. Having the same actors come back again and again as the same characters gives a verisimilitude and ties together these different films nicely.
Next year Marvel is releasing The Avengers which is their supergroup of heroes including Thor, Iron Man, The Hulk, and Captain America. With that many good guys in the same movie, the Studio felt it needed to bring these characters into the public eye before their tent-pole event next year, hence “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger” hit theaters this year.
Coming back to the Thor film, I was surprised at first to find out Branagh was directing. Yeah, the Shakespeare guy. Then I thought about the comic book, and he certainly talks like something from ye olde bard. The character is all about operatic melodrama, as much as he is throwing his hammer at wacky super villains.
Jack Kirby’s art style was always dynamic and cinematic. The tall spires and strange angles of his cosmic Asgard translate beautifully on screen. The cinematography and effects are breathtaking. There are shots of Thor spinning his hammer like a whirlwind that looked awesome.
Asgard is visually stunning, contrasting intentionally with the mundane browns of New Mexico earth. Some of the visuals are over the top and unrealistic, but they’re meant to be.
The music was operatic, reminding me of Wagner's ring at times. The score was written by Patrick Doyle, who’s worked on almost every movie Branagh has directed. I can’t say I’m a fan of his work, but he finally made something good.
The movie could have turned out very campy and cheesy. Instead it delivers a thoroughly fun experience, while keeping true to the 50 years of source material.
Stay for the credits, those people worked hard on this movie and deserve their moment in the spotlight, and Marvel Studios has put another pleasing easter egg at the end.