Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 07 May 2011
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for Lasvegasroundtheclock.com
It’s hammer time! Stan Lee’s helmeted superhero nails the big screen in 2D, 3D, and IMAX versions, all of them showcasing the blond Norse god with the hair-trigger temper.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is the son Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and heir to the king’s throne. Younger brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) seems supportive, but harbors a rivalry with his fierce brother. Thor has a posse of warrior friends comprised of the lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander), Fandral (Joshua Dallas), Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano). His Mother Frigga (Rene Russo) is the cause of his blond good looks; Odin is full of dignity but graying and missing an eye.
On the day of Thor’s succession to the throne, Asgard’s sacred hallway is breached by the Frost Giants, ancient rivals who want (what else?) dominion over all they survey. Furious, Thor assembles his gang and, along with brother Loki and the transportation talent of Heimdall (Idris Alba) Asgard’s gatekeeper, the sextet hurls themselves into the Frost Giant realm of Jotunheim. This escapade takes place against Odin’s wishes.
There, hotheaded Thor confronts Frost Giant King Laufey (Colm Feore) and the little group is quickly outnumbered by enormous red-eyed gargoyles until Odin intervenes. The result is a banished Thor, relegated to earth as a mere mortal. Loki begins to reveal himself to be a surprisingly envious and deceitful sibling with a secret.
Meanwhile, Thor and his hammer Mjollnir are hurled to earth as meteors, their activity picked up and investigated by astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her mentor, Professor Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and assistant Darcy (Kat Dennings). These three discover an incoherent Thor in the middle of the New Mexican desert.
Naturally, the U.S. Government gets involved, full of dark suited, humorless, by-the-book S.H.I.E.L.D. agents led by Coulson (Clark Gregg) whose main job is to intimidate Foster and her team and provide endless obstacles to Thor reuniting with his hammer. Wait, that must mean Coulson and his team of agents have custody of the hammer. They do, but no one can move the weapon from where it landed.
Of course, there’s the long journey we have to take with Thor as he tries to get his story told while coping in a human world which considers him insane. Loki wheels and deals, Odin ails, evil alliances are formed, and battles are fought.
Along the way, Jane, the astrophysicist, loses her intellectual capacity every time she comes into close proximity with Thor, giggling coquettishly as scientists are known to do (yes, that’s snark). Professor Selvig is from Norway and remembers all of his Norse fairytales, lending credibility to Thor’s tall tale at important junctures. Darcy provides wry quips so that the younger generation of viewers can remain engaged enough to care what happens to the big blond guy who’s so out of his superhero element that he thinks he can run into a pet store and order up a horse.
To his credit, Chris Hemsworth plays down his looks, preferring to promote Thor’s integrity-filled machismo and not his flowing locks or ponderous pecs.
Sir Anthony Hopkins is believable as the wise Odin, complete with metal eyepatch.
Natalie Portman plays Foster with a silly, wide-eyed, disingenuousness, erasing all of the female scientist’s academic background in nearly every scene. Stellan Skarsgard’s Professor puts the credibility back into the team with his scientific and historical knowledge, while Kat Dennings plays the same smartass character in yet another role. Rene Russo, once a Cosmo Girl, now plays a cosmos woman, albeit without much to say.
Tom Hiddleston’s Loki provides a stark contrast to Thor with his slick, black hair and willowy countenance. Idris Alba creates a convincing and formidable Heimdall. Stan Lee makes a quick cameo, as does Jeremy Renner in an uncredited role.
Director Kenneth Branagh shows his Shakespearean savvy in this epic tale, full the Bard’s favorite subjects: honor, betrayal, father/son conflict, brother against brother rivalry, and even love (sort of). Scenes of Asgard and Jotunheim take the viewer to distant realms which are not as predictable as those on Earth. Thor is a fish out of water, so we expect idiosyncratic behavior. We can’t predict what the Frost Giants will do – well, we know it will be something cold – but it’s good to visit other worlds and Branagh makes a splendid tour guide.
This is escapism in its grandest form, and whether in 2D, 3D, or IMAX, you’ll THOR-oughly enjoy the Avenger with a tool so big, he’s named it. Not even the X-Men can say that.