There are two kinds of ComicBook-sourced Super Hero pics: ones for Fan Boys & Others, and ones for Fan Boys Only. Quality, originality, story, effects all take a back seat to that basic appeal; especially on the start-up films which get all the origin myth goodies. (It’s why these series constantly get ‘rebooted’ back to Episode One.) Happily, THOR falls into the ‘Others-friendly’ camp, with a bifurcated story that moves back & forth between Wagnerian family squabbles in space and a lighter Earthly tale of exile that tacks on a mortal family for extra audience-identification. Natalie Portman as Thor’s scientifically-inclined mortal gal-pal and Anthony Hopkins as his aging father, King Odin, apparently cashed their paychecks before filming began, but the rest of the big cast put out. (Well, all but poor Rene Russo, lost in the background as Thor’s mom.) Maybe they got character coaching from Kenneth Branagh whose Pop-oriented Shakespeare adaptations still leave him an odd choice as director on this. He leans too heavily on skewed camera angles & CGI dazzle, trying to cover up a serious lack of action chops. At least the techno-fights don’t go on endlessly. And of course Branagh spots how the sibling rivalry between the overly impulsive Thor & the strategizing Loki for a father’s approval (and the right of succession) mirrors the rift between Prince Hal, Hotspur & Henry IV, the backstory to Branagh’s acclaimed debut pic, HENRY V/’89.* (The reason he got the directing gig?)
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is easily the most interesting character in here, but in a new version of the HENRY plays/’12, he gets Branagh’s old role of Hal rather than Hotspur.