Thor: From Hero to Zero… to Hero back again!

Aftha Jaldin

2011-05-16 09:24:00

After being in developmental limbo for several years, the much awaited film adaptation of the popular graphic novel Thor has been released.

Initial reviews given by several critics were mixed, so I decided to put the movie to the test of my own movie judgment.

In a nutshell, it’s good. Not as good as, say Jon Favreau’s Iron Man but it’s still a very good movie to watch. Like all the other Marvel comic books-turned movies, Thor is also riddled with references to the Marvel Universe (aka Easter eggs, but more on that later!), which makes this a very enjoyable movie to watch. The writers and producers decided to use the version of Thor where he is already a God, instead of the version where he is initially a human who discovers the Hammer and is deemed worthy of wielding it. Read on for a complete review, as Thor kicks off a very exciting season of summer blockbusters this year.

The movie starts off with a team of Astrophysicists investigating peculiar patterns in their research of the cosmos. The team comprising of Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) are on an observation one night, when a mysterious column of whirling smoke appears out of the night sky. They rush over to the area, only to knock Thor with their vehicle. He is thrown on to the ground, unconscious and is taken to the hospital. The movie then cuts to the events that led to Thor ending up on Earth.

The story tells of the Mystical Empire of Asgard, where the wise King Odin has ruled for several years and has defended the peace of the universe by defeating the Frost Giants from conquering the nine realms of the universe, and securing their source of power, the Casket of Ancient Winters.Odin is interrupted, during the ceremony to proclaim his eldest son Thor as King of Asgard, by Frost Giants who infiltrate the defenses of the city and attempt to reclaim the Casket.The Destroyer kills the Frost Giants and the Casket continues to be safely locked up in Odin’s Armory.Arrogant and reckless Thor, angered by the Frost Giants who broke into Asgard and annoyed at the inaction of his father, decides to take matters into his own hands and travel to Jotunheim, the Frost Giants’ home, to wage war against the Giants’. A battle ensues until Odin intervenes to save the Asgardians, destroying the fragile truce between the two races. For Thor's arrogance, Odin strips his son of his godly power and exiles him to Earth, accompanied by his hammer Mjolnir — the source of his power, now protected by a spell to allow only the worthy to wield it. The story continues from here as the viewer is treated to some brilliant story telling by Kenneth Branagh and Company and I shall stop spoiling it for those who have not watched it yet.

The film adaptation of Thor was in development limbo for several years before Marvel Studios signed Mark Protosevich to write its script in 2006. Matthew Vaughn was to direct the film in late 2008 for a release in 2010. Branagh replaced Vaughn in late 2008, and the film's release was rescheduled to 2011. The main characters were cast in 2009, and principal photography took place from January to May 2010. The film was converted to 3D in post-production.

On to the cast of the movie, and as you probably already know, Aussie Chris Hemsworth plays the title character. Hemsworth, who beat out his brother Liam among others for the role, looks completely ripped and I can see why many a female fan will want to watch the movie at least a couple of times. During interviews, Hemsworth has said he had to put on a lot of muscle for the role and the challenge was to keep it on. He was reportedly kept on a heavy diet of protein (chicken, beef, rice, eggs etc.) and made to wear a cooling suit to keep him from sweating the muscle away. Joining him as his love interest in the movie is Academy Award Winner Natalie Portman who plays Jane Foster. Portman plays the role brilliantly alongside Hemsworth, as the on screen chemistry between the two is very apparent and believable.

The other notable mentions in the movie are that of Tom Hiddleston who plays Thor’s brother Loki, Anthony Hopkins as Odin and Jaimie Alexander (of Kyle XY fame) as Sif, Thor’s childhood friend and battle companion. Hopkins is spot on with his portrayal of the old and wise King Odin of Asgard and I’m sure there wouldn’t have been a better actor to play the role. Hiddleston’s performance is also noteworthy as he brings out a different aspect to the plot with his highly successful portrayal of Loki. The movie has a healthy mix of breakout stars and seasoned performers,which not only help the movie but also helps the actors in their development. Hemsworth has said that he admired the performance of Anthony Hopkins and learned “a lot from him”.

Taking a look at the numbers, Thor was filmed on a budget of $150 million and is considered a box office success, currently raking in more than $275 million dollars worldwide. It placed second in its opening weekend in Australia, earning $ 5.8 million, just behind Fast Five. In the US, Thor placed first raking in $66 million in its opening weekend. With more superhero movies to come during the summer, Thor is sure to generate more interest and break the $500 million mark in the next few weeks.

A few surprises also await those who are very keen followers of the Marvel universe and the various references to it in the recent Marvel-based movies .Just as we saw in both Iron Man movies, we see subtle references to upcoming movies as well as other aspects of the Marvel universe. Of course there’s the usual post-credits stinger for those who hung around after the movie and the fans aren’t disappointed as this time it shows Nick Fury, Director of S. H. I. E. L. D. showing Erik Selvig (Skarsgård), the Cosmic Cube, which is a device of immense power. Selvig nods his head and the mirror next to him shows Loki, who is thought to be dead, is controlling him. Is Loki the villain in the next Avengers? We’ll have to wait and see. Very juicy indeed! Another Easter egg for all you Marvel fan boys is the cameo appearance of Stan Lee, creator of the Marvel universe. He appears as a redneck truck driver who tries unsuccessfully to remove Thor’s hammer when it is discovered in the New Mexico dessert. These are just a couple but the entire movie is riddled with such references and cameos, so watch out for them.

So after much hype, Thor is out and a brilliant effort by movie-makers to retell this story on the big screen. I’m sure die hard fans will love the movie, and will make a few skeptics go wow at the special effects. The movie is graphically intense with a lot the scenes depicting Asgard filmed in front of a green screen. The city itself is amazing with wide angled views giving movies goers their money’s worth. It’s definitely a movie you should watch, and is enjoyable by young and old alike. Watch it, be amazed by it, and await the next movie, Captain America, in the lead up to the Avengers next year. I know I can’t wait for it, can you?