I’m not a religious guy, but confess this time of year I do sometimes issue a silent prayer, “Please exceed my expectations.” Looks like maybe one of the Norse Gods was listening. Thor is enjoying good early buzz from online cynics, and has a tentative 93% on RT from mostly UK critics (the film already opened last week in several overseas markets.) Megan Lehmann at The Hollywood Reporter embraces Thor too.
It‚Äôs a noisy, universe-rattling spectacle full of sound and fury with a suitably epic design, solid digital effects and a healthy respect for the comic-book lore that turned a mythological Norse god into a founding member of the superhero team known as The Avengers… The ultimate accessibility of Thor‚Äôs fantastical world is due in no small measure to the good-humored direction of Kenneth Branagh, a man with a highbrow history who knows his way around an epic tale, and a star-making turn from Chris Hemsworth.
Branagh may convey a lofty intellect to the Shakespearean interplay of feuding fathers and sons, and co-stars Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman the actorly gravitas. But the 6-foot-3 Hemsworth adds the winning ingredients, bringing a lusty Viking charm to his rumbling Olde English line readings, a towering physicality and biceps that look forged in a furnace. Verily, he is ripped.
(ok, easy there, Megan. I said you ’embrace’ Thor. Not wrap your legs around him.) Chris Hewitt at Empire ranks it in the B+/A- range, and says Thor “is tremendous fun, and further proof that Marvel Studios knows how to handle its back catalogue.”
“…the sweep of the material, with vast tracking shots through stunning Asgardian landscapes, is by far the biggest thing Marvel has attempted; this is fantasy on a cosmic scale… And when it comes to making Shakespearean material ‚Äî and the relationship between Thor, Loki and Odin positively reeks of the Bard ‚Äî work on the big screen, Branagh has no equal.
once you‚Äôre up to speed, the film yanks Thor off to the modern day and tackles the thorny issue of his near-omnipotence by separating him, and his powers, from his enchanted hammer, Mjolnir. There‚Äôs a neat tonal shift, as human beings meet Thor (and, later, in the film‚Äôs funniest moment, the Warriors Three and Sif) and find everything he does or says ridiculous. Here, Hemsworth ‚Äî the Australian actor who impressed so much with his one-scene cameo in Star Trek as Kirk‚Äôs doomed dad ‚Äî comes into his own, adding new layers of humility and humour to his blustering God Of Thunder. “