Movie #225 Thor
(2011, UK/US, d. Kenneth Branagh)
Thor is a film I walked in expecting to dislike. After all, any story that revolves around mythic characters and planets unknown to the human spectrum is difficult to get into, least of all root for. But Branagh’s work here is surprising in its effect, for not only did I enjoy this film, I also thought it made for quite good cinema. There are two elements that really sold the movie for me: the visuals and the performances. Harris Zambarloukos’ camerawork is nice, but it’s the art direction here that excels. The world we see is new, but it is also fantastic. It shimmers and shines in its glory and its magnitude to the point where the audience looks at one another and asks, “How did they do that?”. Surprisingly enough, therefore, it was not the scenes that take place on Earth that were as close to being as interesting as the scenes that took place in Asgard. Secondly, this is the sort of movie where if the actors don’t really believe in their characters and in their lines, then the whole thing can become campy very quickly. However, every performance here seems honest and believable. Granted, what do you expect when famed Shakespearean actor Kenneth Branagh assembles a cast? But still, for a tentpole summer flick, this movie has surprising depth. Chris Hemsworth, though, who plays the lead character of Thor, gives a truly star-making performance here. He’s funny, arrogant, smart, witty – but most of all, believable.