Sunday, 8 May 2011

Thor Blimey, Guvn'r! THOR dir. Kenneth Branagh (for it is he): review

Just your average scientists
So there you are, minding your own business, which particular business happens to be noticing anomalies in particles, when a bearded man falls out of the sky and you run him over. You (who happen to be Natalie Portman playing a scientist called Jane, since all particle physics scientists are beautiful girls with limpid eyes) are with your geeky assistant (also played by a beautiful girl with limpid eyes, my pin-up, Kat Dennings) and some other chap who looks a bit more like you'd expect a scientist to look like; you take this man to a hospital, where he shouts things like 'Do not touch the mighty son of Odin!' and 'Puny humans!' He is mad, clearly, or he's drunk a bit too much mead. It's Thor!

So what's a girl to think? Well, naturally the obvious assumption is that you would immediately fall in love with this man (who is played by Chris Hemsworth). I mean, when he takes his top off it's like being in a whole locker room full of male Dolce and Gabbana models. He's so muscled you could actually wash clothes on his abdominals. Thwoooar! thinks Jane. (Her assistant, on the other hand, Tasers him, which is probably why she finds it difficult to form relationships.)

'We've only got 24 hours to save the universe!'
Thus begins Thor, which should definitely be Thor! with an exclamation mark. We then cut back to the land of Asgard, with some typical narration in a deep voice ("and thus it was that the land of the Xes was overrun by the Ys; until the day did come when Z destroyed their power and it was hidden until the time of W"). Thor is, naturally, the son of Odin (played by Anthony Hopkins who looks as if he isn't quite sure whether to be a butler or a psychopath. But he's got one eye, so that's all right, because so does Odin). There's been a bit of a hoo-ha in Asgard (which is basically an enormous Emerald City but made in Gold, with some mysterious floating bits and lots of people wearing armour and Idris Elba as the bouncer. They have bags of technology - 'Magic!' - but still use horses. Clearly not so smart) as Thor has, in the arrogance of youth, gone to attack the Frost Giants, thus imperilling a fragile peace; Odin exiles him to earth, where he is to learn the value of humility etc etc. Meanwhile, back on Asgard, Loki (a beautifully tortured Tom Hiddleston) is plotting and counter-plotting to gain the throne whilst learning uncomfortable things about his own nature.

There are some gloriously funny moments, as when Thor smashes a cup on the ground (he likes the drink), then later barges into a pet shop and asks for a horse. 'We only have dogs and cats and birds.' 'Well give me one of those large enough to ride.' There are some gloriously Flash Gordon moments, as when Thor's four ridiculously ill-assorted friends (one a bearded quaffer, one a maiden, one an effete Englishman, and one - of course - a Japanese Samurai. Perhaps he was on holiday) land in an American town. 'We've got Xena ...' says one of the police officers. There are also some moments of power, as when Thor tries to pull out Excalibur I mean the Hammer from the stone and fails and he looks all wounded and sweet and angry in a classic 'NOOOOOOOO!' moment.

Thor eventually seems to learn humility etc etc first by handing around plates, and then handing some people into a car; then by offering himself as a sacrifice, but it was clearly the courtesy that did it. He also seems to find his eternal love in Jane having spent no more than about a day with her. But never mind. He wins the day (of course). My only real complaint is that Loki's twisted nature was traced back to the fact that he was a bastard. No King Lear is this; but then that's Kenneth for you. The plots and counterplots may be silly; but for once it can be forgiven, as this film is aiming to do nothing more than entertain, which it does, in flagons.

Now I ask you all to sing with me: Thor! -o-oor! He saved everyone of us!

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