By Marc S. Sanders

Chris Hemsworth is the God of Thunder who must learn to grow up if he is to inherit the throne over the land of Asgard from his father Odin (a welcome Anthony Hopkins), and more importantly become worthy of lifting his mighty hammer. Hemsworth is great; full of cocksure assuredness, humor and heroics. Chris Hemsworth makes you believe he’s the only guy who could play Thor.

Thor’s adversary is the God of Mischief, Loki played by one of Marvel’s best actors, Tom Hiddleston. This is a guy who plays so many different levels. If one didn’t know the story of Thor and Loki, I’d argue they might be shocked at some of the turn of events Hiddleston masterfully orchestrates with simple facial expressions and passiveness that progressively switch over to madness, obsession, jealousy, envy and deceit. Hiddleston effectively spins all the plates perfectly.

Natalie Portman plays the love interest carrying the torch of least significance that Liv Tyler and Gwenyth Paltrow held in prior Marvel films. That’s a pattern the Marvel films will begin to improve upon with the next film in line.

Director Kenneth Branagh is the right guy for this movie. Inspired Shakespearean settings and dialogue overlap with modern day America. Branagh brings a nice balance to it, and he also directs his actors well. A great exchange of dialogue and performance occurs midway through between Hiddleston and Hemsworth. Branagh gets good close ups of both actors as the conniving villain manipulates the naive hero. The camera angles move at a slant almost evoking a necessary confusion between what is true and what is a lie. Moments like this allow Thor to be more than just an action film. There are nice opportunities for acting as well, and because of that Hiddleston especially has become quite treasured among loyal fans.

Compliments must also go towards the setting of Asgard. I normally frown on immersive CGI normally. Not here though. Asgard is as regal as anything Peter Jackson offered in his Tolkien films, complete with a striking rainbow bridge and towering structures. I want to tour through that whole land. It’s that spectacular. Characters also work well with the CGI, especially the fire breathing, metallic Destroyer.

Thor is a great introduction to the legendary comics character. The film offers a character arc of change much like what was captured with Tony Stark in the first Iron Man. The character must grow and learn about his identity over the course of the film in order to have legs for future installments. This film accomplishes that feat, and thus Chris Hemsworth has become a box office draw while his most popular character to date has become a screen favorite.

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