While it’s obvious a lot of money and effort were spent to bring Thor to the big screen, none of it helps explain why we need yet another superhero story, not to mention the type of origin story that has become dominant since Batman Begins and Iron Man. Those films weren’t perfect, but their strengths—strong leading men (particularly Robert Downey Jr., Due Date) and memorable villains (Jeff Bridges, TRON: Legacy)—put them in a class above Thor. On the plus side, Thor is a lighter, less intense film than those origin stories, and is helped by a strong directorial hand. Shakespearean actor Kenneth Branagh (Henry V) shows skill behind the camera, using canted angles to give the film a comic-book-come-to-life quality, even amid Thor’s opulent visual effects.

Like Iron Man, Thor works best when it lightens up and has a little fun with its hero, but those moments compete with the heavily trod elements we’ve seen multiple times. How many more of these stories will audiences demand before the tales grow stale?

It’s to the credit of Branagh and his stars that they manage to make Thor feel fresh at times, mainly during Thor’s stint on Earth. Hemsworth might not be a great actor, but his sculpted torso does as much to create an effective Thor than do any of his line readings. Portman, fresh off her Oscar-winning performance in Black Swan, is a lovely leading lady, although the most memorable lines are reserved for Kat Dennings as the witty Darcy, a bright new star in this intergalactic story.

Thor is a “PG-13” summer movie with no big drawbacks working against it. Fans of the Marvel movies will find much to enjoy in Thor, while family audiences won’t be confronted with excessive violence or sexuality (read the “Cautions” below for more detail). The biggest obstacle to enjoying Thor is the feeling that its success will lead to more of the same stories, told over and over again, at the cinema.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity: Several “Oh my Gods”;“da-n”; “dumba-s”; “what the hell.”  
  • Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: Darcy says she can tell Thor is “totally hammered”; beer drinking; two characters down the same drink simultaneously.
  • Sex/Nudity:Thor is shown shirtless, and Darcy wishes she could perform CPR on Thor when she first sees him; kissing.
  • Violence/Crime:Frost giants kill people by encasing them in ice; sword fight; Thor turns over a table in anger; brawling and fisticuffs; stabbing; Thor kills large adversaries; Thor is hit by a car twice; Thor is Tasered; Thor fights off hospital personnel and is given an injection by force; Odin’s eye is injured in battle; Thor slapped; cars destroyed.
  • Religion/Morals: Norse gods; a reference to worship of “deities”; asking of forgiveness from another person.

Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@hotmail.com.