Being the kid of a king is pretty cool, but being the kid of a king who's also a god must be about the greatest job there is.
Arrested for drunk driving? Not a problem when dad can snap his fingers and turn back time. Or just transmute all that whiskey in your blood into everyday, boring water. Of course, it probably stings a bit to get spanked with a lightning bolt, but I am still thinking the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
On the other hand, you would probably turn out to be an awful person. Paris Hilton ended up bad enough without being raised with the power to command the beasts of the sea or to shoot lava out of her mouth. In Thor, the scions begin as pretty crummy people, but it turns out even the gods are capable of personal growth.
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Chris Hemsworth (as Thor) is set to be crowned king of Asgard by his father, Anthony Hopkins. But when the hated frost giants sneak into his homeland, Hemsworth arrogantly leads a fact-finding mission to their world, sparking a war between the two people.
Furious at his son's hotheadedness, Hopkins strips Hemsworth of his powers and exiles him to Earth, where he's taken in by astrophysicist Natalie Portman. Back in Asgard, his brother Tom Hiddleston has taken the throne -- and intends to turn the kingdom over to their mortal enemies.
A curious thing about Thor: it's directed by Kenneth Branagh. No, not Kenneth Branagh the chimney sweep, we're talking about the Kenneth Branagh who directs all those films of old plays with the men who wear tights. Which, okay, now I'm seeing why someone thought he was qualified to direct a superhero movie, but still: strange choice.
And it works. First off, Thor gets an A for its graphics. In fact, it gets a 108% that wrecks the curve so bad that X-Men: First Class and Super 8 waited for Thor in the alley after school and then held it down and gave it a purple nurple. Everything in Asgard seems to glow; the frozen wastes of the frost giants' world are beautifully hellish. CG has gotten so good that the exceptional is now expected, but Thor stands out.
It's a little less grand in the story department. I wasn't bugged by the extended flashback, even when it stretched out to Dragon Wars-esque lengths. Overall, the plotting is solid, a good mix of unexpected turns among traditional elements such as "son of privilege who probably crashed his dad's longship as a teen learns a little something about responsibility."
But it's maybe a little too old-hattish. If this story were any more Hero's Journey, it would get stolen by George Lucas. I didn't particularly buy the romance between Portman and Hemsworth, either, possibly because among all the frost giants, laser-bots and Stringer Bell with a sword, they really don't get all that much time together.
This robs Thor of a little of its intended strength. But Thor is mighty! And in its might, it is not afraid to tell the occasional joke. Then it is right back to bonking things with hammers. Lively, gorgeous, and armed with a small but welcome sense of humor, Thor is a strong new entry in the superhero pantheon.