Branagh's smash film ‘Thor' as strong as ‘Iron Man'

Friday, May 20, 2011

Click here to enlarge this photo
Submitted photo
Chris Hemsworth, right, stars in "Thor," Paramount Pictures' 3D superhero film.

It only took about 10 minutes into "Thor," the latest Marvel Comics book turned into a feature film, for a wide smile to form across my face at the realization that "oh, man they got it right!"

Another 30 minutes in, I was thoroughly convinced that Marvel has a brand new summer movie franchise. By the time the credits were over, I was already awaiting the sequel.

In the wrong hands that don't get the source material, i.e. dumbing it down for the audience, Thor could have been a catastrophe and a "how-to" on the ways to not make a superhero movie. With the proper guidance, however, you've got the superhero version of "The Lord of the Rings" — minus Frodo.

Enter Oscar-nominated director Kenneth Branagh, who has honed his craft directing and acting Shakespeare's "Henry V" and "Hamlet" and could handle the task of delivering a fun, summer blockbuster with the necessary amount of drama to make "Thor" as viable a character as "Spider-Man" and "Iron Man" before him.

It helps to have a cast with Oscar-winning actors Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman and on-the-rise actors in Chris Hemsworth ("Star Trek") and Tom Hiddleston ("Wallander"), each ready to achieve superstardom with breakout performances.

Rather than a long, tedious origin setup before getting to the fun, comic-book action, Branagh's opening act features a massive battle between the Frost Giants and the Asgardians, led by their ruler, Odin (Hopkins). Odin retells the tale to his sons, Thor (Hemsworth) and Loki (Hiddleston), who long for the chance to prove to their father that they are worth successors to the throne.

Branagh shows the full power of Thor, who topples one giant after another with the aid of his invincible hammer, Mjolnir, and brashly taunts his foes for a real challenge.

Just like the two "Iron Man" films and "The Incredible Hulk," "Thor" continues setting the stage for next year's heavily anticipated "The Avengers," which might be the biggest summer blockbuster ever considering how great the setup for it has been.

"Thor" strikes a mighty blow to the summer blockbuster season and will charge up audiences just like the first "Iron Man."

Don't miss it!

"Thor" a comic book, sci-fi film, is rated PG13 and is 114 min. The director is Kenneth Branagh The cast includes Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings, Clark Gregg, Colm Feore, Anthony Hopkins