I wasn't too sure about Thor when I first heard about it. I know the Marvel universe has plenty of mystical things about it, and I haven't devled into them so much myself, but for the last member of the upcoming Avengers, Thor just has little in common with his Earthly companions Iron Man and Captain America. Still, I needed to be all caught up for next year when they all get together.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is the son of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), who is king of Asgard, part of the nine realms. What are they exactly? I don't really know, it's never really fully explained. But there are mystical realms, one of which is populated by Frost Giants, who are apparently evil because they want to kill everyone. Anyway, Thor is about to be pronounced king when some Frost Giants sneak into Asgard and attempt to steal the Casket Of Ancient Winters. This pisses Thor off because it goes against the peace treaty and interrupted his coronation. So against his father's best wishes he goes and kicks their asses, and starts a war. Odin isn't very pleased with this, so he banishes Thor to Earth where he meets up with astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who is especially interested in the kind of storm that brought Thor from his home realm.
Sound confusing? Well. it kind of is. There is some backstory, but not too much. It probably helps if you know what the nine realms are and all the background of the mythology, but it's not too important. All we need to know is Thor has gone through a magic portal to Earth and he wants to go back through the magic portal to get home. Unless he, you know, actually starts to feel a connection to these humans, especially this one woman.
Of course, that's what does happen. Thor is a man away from home, without his powers, so he has a lot to learn about life on Earth and what it means to find humanity. Well, I assume that was the plan, but instead we're treated to scenes of Thor eating vast amounts of food, getting drunk with a guy, and getting horny over this attractive woman who is interested in him because not only is he muscular and handsome, he's a bit weird too. The character development is pretty bad, either that or I missed the entire relationship that blossomed between Thor and Jane that made them want to be together. There is a villain in the form of Thor's brother, Loki, wbut his agenda changes so many times it's hard to figure out whether he's evil or not.
The special effects are decent, I'll give it that. The fight scenes are well done, with whooshing winds and devastating blows, but in the period between when Thor loses his powers and the climax of the movie, it's all a bit boring. While other Marvel movies have a slow bit at the beginning where the hero discovers their powers, Thor already has his hammer, which does things that are never clearly explained. It seems like he can just do whatever he wants most of the time. But the lull in the middle of the film breaks up the action, and without much substance it really dragged the movie down for me.
So yes, I was a bit dubious about the mystical elements of Thor when I first saw the trailers, but it turns out they're the best parts of the movie. The locations are stunning, especially when compared to the dusty New Mexico town Thor lands in, and the characters are more rounded, especially the Gatekeeper who opens the bridges between realms, he's awesome. So while Thor could have been a great movie if it focused more on the right things, the big expanse of stuff not happening in the middle dirtied my overall view. There is a lot of potential though, as shown in the major action scenes and the inclusion of S.H.I.E.L.D., and hopefully this will be explored in The Avengers and the upcoming Thor sequel.
My rating: 2/5