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    May 1, 2011


    THOR (PG13)

    Genre: Action/Adventure
    Release Date: 28 April 2011
    Running Time: 115 minutes
    Distributor: Paramount Pictures (United International Pictures)
    Director: Kenneth Branagh
    Screenplay: Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz and Don Payne; story by J Michael Straczynski and Mark Protosevich; based on comic character 'Thor' by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby
    Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Hopkins, Kat Dennings

    Plot: Director Kenneth Branagh ("Henry V") and "I Am Legend" scribe Mark Protosevich bring Marvel Comics strongman Thor (played by Star Trek's Chris Hemsworth) to the big screen in this big-budget adventure that chronicles the mystical roots of the Asgardian god. Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Jaimie Alexander, and Colm Feore co-star, with Tom Hiddleston playing the role of Thor's villainous brother, Loki.

    Review: “Thor” is a majestic property from Marvel Comics that is essentially pulled out from the mystical Norse mythology tale about the god of thunder. It is just a few step away from that mega-project in which “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator Joss Whedon will be handling. Yes, everyone should know by now that “Thor” will serve as another plot-bridge that will connects its story to the planned 2012 release of Marvel’s The Avengers. With such a high stake of risk placed on the table, I was not sure if “Thor” can do another repeat of Iron Man’s success in terms of quality nor box office performance, not to mention even getting closer to it. For months, “Thor” has two non-stellar trailers which only add in more of my concern whether the movie will be suffering too. After 115 minutes of watching it, I can express how much I am relief for it.

    “Thor” opens with a flashback in the year 975 A.D. when Odin (or also known as All Father) (Anthony Hopkins), king of Asgard, wages war against the Jotunheim’s Frost Giants and their leader Laufey (Colm Feore) from invading the Nine Realms of the cosmic. The Asgardians defeat the Frost Giants before seizing their only power source known as the Casket of Ancient Winters. The stability of the cosmic is thereafter maintained with a reluctant diplomatic truce between the two kingdoms. The movie then fast forward to the present day when Odin’s son Thor (Chris Hemsworth) prepares himself to ascend to the throne of Asgard. However, it is put on hold when it is discovered that the Frost Giants attempt to retrieve the Casket again by penetrating Asgard’s deep defense. Thor’s insistent for war on the Jotunheim only raises more doubts for the old Odin if he has found a right successor.

    Against Odin’s order, Thor travels to the icy realm along with his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and the Warriors Three for a hostile battle to ensue. Odin intervenes right at time to save their lives. Due to Thor’s arrogance, Odin banishes Thor to the Earth while taking away his godly power and his source power, Mjolnir. Thor is sent to New Mexico before is found by Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her sidekick Darcy (Kat Dennings) and mentor Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard). With his powers been stripped off, Thor is forced to live in exile on Earth while continuing to search for his hammer Mjolnir on the Earth and learn to banish his arrogance and cultivates more humility. Elsewhere, there is a continuing evil plan to assassinate Odin whom has fallen ill following the banishment of Thor.

    It could have been easy fallout for disaster but Kenneth Branagh’s smart direction on “Thor” has indeed making the movie a winner in its genre by surpassing and leveraging my expectation beautifully. There are several reasons why “Thor” works. First of all, “Thor” kicks in with decent story-telling about a man’s dilemma and his family conflict – albeit not really a man. It is a noisy action fest that kicks start the summer with high notes, while also prove lesser required for some quick references from any Norse mythology books. It is easily digestible because the plot is never been complex and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. After all, the essential elements about family and soul-searching are explored brilliantly throughout the 115 minutes of popcorn entertainment. The screenwriter-trio of Miller, Stentz and Payne succeed in making “Thor” a well structured story that consists of a decent half an hour opening that sets up the story. It balances the act of a man (god), full of arrogance and selfishness; before we see him enduring swift, unhurried transformation into selfness of good, humility and some humanity.

    Secondly, this “Thor” movie manages to put aside some worrying notions from the fans and movie audiences with eventually becoming a fun and entertaining movie. There are some doubts over the sky as how “Thor” is able to perform with its glimpse of the fusion between science and magic. I think that the story tackles both notions well by never letting those who are unfamiliar about the “Thor” mythology from floating wander aimlessly. The decision to hire Kenneth Branagh as the film director may seem as unorthodox and risky. Branagh’s ability to shape the movie using his heart-warming charms and humors, familiarity as a person who embroiled in the Shakespeare pieces to bring the movie to become self-awaking, emotionally charged and simplicity with elegant.

    Lastly, the fact that the ensemble casts and the usage of special visual in the movie have been great and comfortable. The choice of Australian-born Chris Hemsworth to be cast as Thor seems spot on. He masks on the character superbly and tenderly, while Natalie Portman’s geeky performance as Jane Foster seems easy on the eyes and matching. You can’t leave Kat Dennings out for her stereotyping fun and hilariously serving, while Tom Hiddleton’s Loki character is figuratively confusing yet mesmerizing. From special effects point-of-view, “Thor” does not overdo it, instead been miraculously mesmerizing. The cinematography sequence involving the city of Asgard looks majestic at mind.

    Story: 4.0
    Casts: 4.0
    Cinematography: 4.5
    Effects: 4.5
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