Throwback Review: “Thor” (2011)

In honor of the release of the first episode of the newest Marvel show on Disney Plus this week, “Loki,” I’m revisiting my 2011 review of the movie that saw the first appearance of the mischief-maker played by Tom Hiddleston:

I’ve noticed over the past few years that the majority of superhero movies are one of two things: either immensely entertaining or incredibly overdone. Kenneth Branagh’s “Thor”, based on the series of Marvel comics, is sort of a strange hybrid of these two qualities.

Chris Hemsworth as “Thor”

Part of the film is set in the realm of Asgard, which is controlled by the god Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Odin has two sons, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Thor is destined to inherit the throne from his father, but his arrogance leads him and his people into a conflict with the frost giants in a neighboring realm. Odin banishes Thor to Earth, taking his powers from him as well as his mighty hammer. When Thor crash lands on Earth, he is discovered by physicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her colleagues Darcy (Kat Dennings) and Erik (Stellan Skarsgard). Realizing that he may be the key to an important discovery she’s about to make, Jane takes Thor under her wing. Meanwhile, agents from S.H.I.E.L.D try to hinder them, while the treacherous Loki takes over Asgard.

Between S.H.I.E.L.D, the physicists, and Asgard, there’s kind of a lot going on in this movie. It actually works better as a prequel to “The Avengers” movie yet to come from Marvel, which Thor will be a part of, as the story doesn’t stand up well on its own. Regardless, it’s about as entertaining a superhero movie as you could hope for. The whole person from a strange land thrown into the real world plot may be overdone, but it never gets old, and Thor trying to communicate with people on Earth in his overblown, arrogant manner is pretty funny. And there’s a ton of action scenes both set on Earth and in Asgard that are sure to please fans looking for a summer blockbuster.

Tom Hiddleston as Loki in “Thor” (2011)

At the same time, it’s hard to believe that Thor’s manner could change so much in just a couple days, and the inclusion of a ton of A-list actors, including Portman and Hopkins, doesn’t do much to improve the quality of the film, mostly because their characters aren’t given much to do. Perhaps the most entertaining character is Darcy, to whom Dennings brings a smart-alecky wit that gives the movie a lot of humor.

Of course, you can’t have a superhero movie without special effects. Unfortunately, “Thor” goes into CGI overload, particularly with the scenes set in Asgard. Everything has a glossy look to it that is so obviously computerized. At times it is a bit overwhelming—and I didn’t even see the movie in 3D.

Overall, “Thor” is an entertaining movie for those looking to escape for a couple hours, and will likely get comic fans more psyched for “The Avengers”. But if you’re looking for a quality superhero origin story along the lines of “Spider-man” or “Iron Man”, keep looking.

“Thor” is currently streaming on Disney Plus. Runtime: 114 minutes. Rated PG-13.

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