I've never been a huge fan of Marvel's Thor. This is interesting because I have always been very interested in Norse Mythology, particularly modern takes on it. Neil Gaiman's American Gods remains one of my favorite books of all time. I've never had much use for the comics versions though. I never really liked mixing Gods with superheroes. Having a God on your team leaves too much room for "deus ex machina" endings, pun intended. The only incarnation of Thor in the comics that I really liked was the Ultimate version, because it was pretty ambiguous as to whether he was in fact a God or just some nut who got his hands on a fancy hammer. I was hoping they would play that angle for the movie, but they didn't (not really). So I went to this movie not out of love of the character, but more of a slavish devotion to comic adaptations. Also, other reasons...
So, cutting to the chase, did I like the movie? Considering it was the one I had the lowest expectations for, I was pleasantly surprised. You could tell that Kenneth Branagh did not write this off as a campy comics story for kids and phone it in (cough-Fantastic Four-cough) but actually crafted a good story. This was a fun movie. If you don't know the plot, go look up a better written review. Basically, Thor get's banished to Earth until he learns to be less arrogant, falls in love with pretty girl, has to fight his evil brother. Along the way he tangles with S.H.I.E.L.D. and learns a little humility along the way. The special effects were for the most part top notch, though there were a few shoddy parts. Asgard looked cool but sometimes it reminded me of a Saturday morning cartoon. Maybe it was the rainbow bridge, it seemed like something right out of Gem or something. Also, I prefer my Asgardians to look a bit more medieval than gold trimmed.
These are personal peeves, however, and you might not even notice them. Overall, it was a great looking movie with an enjoyable story. I particularly appreciated the little cameo by one of Thor's fellow future Avengers. I'm guessing it was thrown in a little late to promote next year's movie, but I'm not complaining. The clip after the credits was also a nice little tie in (at least I hope).
The acting was pretty solid, which was expected. Let's go down the list. Chris Hemsworth pulled it off as the title character. Thor's transformation from arrogant prince to selfless hero was believable and fun to watch. Natalie Portman did her job and fell in love as planned. The fantastic Stellan Skarsgard, the only actual Scandinavian, provided the exposition while Kat Dennings provided the jokes. Tom Hiddleston's Loki was probably the best character, despite his motivations being a bit murky at times. He was obviously torn between his ambitions and his love for his family, and he was constantly duplicitous (until the end when he went completely off the rails, for some reason). Anthony Hopkins could have played his role of Odin in his sleep, and luckily, he was awake (for the parts he was supposed to be, anyway). Rene Russo was wasted as Frigga, as she didn't have many lines. Maybe she wanted it that way though. Also wasted was the great Ray Stevenson as Volstagg. It's understandable that not every character could have that much screen time, but I just wanted more of the Warriors Three. They all played their parts fine, though, and Jaimie Alexander made one wonder exactly why Thor was so easily wooed by some mortal girl when Lady Sif is waiting at home.
As I mentioned before, I had low expectations for this movie going into it, which were met and exceeded. It was a fun popcorn flick, a good way to start the summer. It wasn't perfect, but at least it wasn't campy. I give it a B+.