Shocked by thunder? Marvel's favourite deity hammers his way from the silver age to the silver screen for the first time. THOR kicks off the summer with a super-hero sized blockbuster that does not disappoint.
Further expanding on the big screen Marvel universe THOR takes the audiences to all new worlds (or realms if you want to get technical). The film opens in Asgard, a mythical kingdom in one of the nine different realms. There Asgard`s king Odin is about to step down from the thrown to hand the kingdom to his first born son Thor when his coronation is interrupted by some old enemies of Asgard, the frost giants. An angered Thor retaliates against his father`s orders and reignites an old war between the two realms forcing Odin to strip Thor of his powers and banish his son to exile on Earth for his childish actions. On Earth, Thor catches the attention of scientist Jane Foster, and later by S.H.E.I.L.D., after his mysterious arrival in a small New Mexican town. Let the Marvel cross-over continue.
As awesome and action packed as THOR is for a blockbuster for its size, the film could also double as a comedy with Chris Hemsworth's brilliant performance of a god reduced to being a mere mortal. First off the guy definitely looks the part and is able to carry both the action and dramatic scenes for the film. But the most surprising and refreshing parts of the film are when Hemsworth adds that little bit of comedic relief to certain scenes. Hemsworth plays an 'out of his element' Thor perfectly with pin point comedic timing proving his talent extends well beyond looking good without a shirt on. Acting along sides the likes of Oscar winners Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins, Hemsworth does the hard work to join them in the spotlight rather than just have them hand it to him. Hemsworth wasn't a household coming into this franchise but after seeing his range in THOR I can't see him fading into Hollywood's background anytime soon.
Some of THOR's best parts (without giving too much away) have to do with the added presences of S.H.E.I.L.D. throughout the film. Clark Gregg reprises his role as S.H.E.I.L.D. agent Coulson for the first time outside of the Iron Man franchise and as more involvement with the film's main story. In Iron Man having a S.H.E.I.L.D. agent like Coulson was a nice little tease for the comic book fans but after Iron Man 2, and now with THOR, more time is obviously being devoted to setting up the Avengers movie next summer. Having S.H.E.I.L.D. in THOR as much as they do helps gives the character of Thor and this new franchise more legitimacy to those who may be unfamiliar with this section of the Marvel universe. Though an eye patched Sam Jackson doesn't make the trip with Gregg and the rest of S.H.E.I.L.D. to New Mexico a new member from the Marvel universe is introduced encase you weren't excited enough for the Avengers. I've already said too much, but some of Marvel's promotional trailers for THOR may have already ruined this surprise cameo for you already.
With this summer's movie line up being packed with superhero films Marvel's 'God of Thunder' quickly takes the throne to crush the completion. To these new Marvel film franchises like Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and (the soon to be released) Captain America: The First Avenger, THOR is uniquely different in a way that it only grounds half of it's film in a realistic reality. The other half of THOR taking place in the different mythical realms of Asgard and Jotunheim, made up mostly by CGI effects. Deciding to give these more fantasy based settings equal screen time was risky move for director Kenneth Branagh to take the film but THOR balances the two fantastically. In the approach to Thor, Odin, his brother Loki and all the other characters in the different realms other an Earth, the film takes them and their worlds seriously so the audience can as well. However, when the story shifts to a Thor exiled on Earth the film then is able to poke fun at how ridiculous the possibly of those other mythical realms are so it doesn't take itself too seriously at the same time. Seeing Thor as an alien immigrant of sorts, for a good part of the film, is the perfect way to treat this comic book material for its big screen debut. Doing so allows even the causal movie audiences to be introduced to these cosmic characters without them needing Thor's comic book history beforehand.
THOR may not have the same eccentric energy Robert Downey Jr. brings to his superhero franchise but Hemsworth has his own combination of brute force and comedic relief that audiences will really enjoy. The only down side to THOR will be the extra 3-4 bucks you will have to shell out for the 3D, as it looks like it isn't being shown in an optional 2D format. If you do decide to start your summer movie watching with the God of Thunder make sure you do stay all the way till the end. Yes, in typical Marvel fashion, there is a hidden scene after the credits role. I've said too much.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.