‘Thor’ sets bar high for summer movies - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Arts & Life

‘Thor’ sets bar high for summer movies

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Posted: Thursday, May 12, 2011 6:00 pm | Updated: 9:42 am, Wed Jun 6, 2012.

Up until recently my only knowledge of Thor was through the little girl in "Adventures in Babysitting" who idolized the character. In terms of comics, Thor never intrigued me as much as icons like Batman or Spider-Man. When I heard Thor would be getting the big screen treatment, I honestly wasn't expecting to be blown away. I'm content to declare, however, that the mighty Thor's feature film debut is nothing short of sensational, leaving me to believe that I've severely underestimated the character all these years.

Chris Hemsworth delivers a star making performance as the God of Thunder himself. Thor resides in the realm of Asgard where he is to ascend the throne from his father Odin, played by the great Anthony Hopkins. Thor proves himself unworthy to be king though, when he travels to the realm of Jotunheim and declares war on the fierce Frost Giants. Infuriated with his son's recklessness, Odin strips Thor of his power and sends him to earth. With Thor banished, his younger brother Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, usurps the throne. Little does anyone realize that the slimy Loki has dastardly plans for Asgard.

While Thor still has the skills and instincts of a warrior, he is now mortal and can no longer wield his hammer, the Mjolnir. He ends up in New Mexico where a scientist named Jane Foster, played by Oscar-winner Natalie Portman, accidentally hits him with a car. Along with her mentor, played by Stellan Skarsgard, and sarcastic lab assistant, played by Kat Dennings, Jane attempts to help Thor get back on his feet. This leads to some of the film's funniest sequences as the godly Thor adjusts to being mortal in a world of humans. It has the same wit of "Enchanted" or the French comedy, "The Visitors."

"Thor" is as good-looking as any superhero movie ever envisioned. Thor describes Asgard as a world where science and magic are one in the same. The art direction perfectly matches Thor's description with sets that look like a cross between Middle Earth in Peter Jackson's "Lord of The Rings" pictures and the city in Fritz Lang's "Metropolis."

But the real triumph of "Thor" is in its story, which mixes action, romance and comedy with elements of Norse mythology. The themes of sibling rivalry and redemption almost feel Shakespearian, which is no surprise, seeing how the film's director is Kenneth Branagh, who has done feature interpretations of "Hamlet" and "Henry V." Hemsworth, who was briefly seen as Captain Kirk's father in the "Star Trek" reboot, is perfect as Thor, finding just the right blend of humor and depth.

"Thor" is one of several films building up to "The Avengers" in 2012. Like the two "Iron Man" movies though, "Thor" never feels like a preview of better things to come. The summer movie season has several other superhero pictures in store for us, from "Green Lantern" to "Captain America." While I'll go see those movies with an open mind, it will not be easy for any of them to top "Thor." This is suburb entertainment that has set the bar quite high for summer blockbusters.

Nick Spake is a college student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for five years, reviewing movies on his website, NICKPICKSFLICKS.com. Reach him at nspake@asu.edu.

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