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Thor (**)
directed by Kenneth Branagh
written by Ashley Miller & Zack Stentz and Don Payne from a story by J. Michael Straczynski and Mark Protosevich based on the comic book by Stan Lee, Larry Leiber, and Jack Kirby
Principal Cast
Chris Hemsworth -- Thor
Natalie Portman -- Jane Foster
Tom Hiddleston -- Loki
Anthony Hopkins -- Odin
Stellan Skarsgård -- Erik Selvig
Kat Dennings -- Darcy Lewis
Clark Gregg -- Agent Coulson
Idris Elba -- Heimdall
Colm Feore -- King Laufey
Rene Russo -- Frigga
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

When a major high-brow director makes a movie based on a comic book, it does not usually turn out well: witness Ang Lee's Hulk and now Kenneth Branagh's Thor. I love Branagh's Oscar-winning film of Shakespeare's Henry V. Thor, not so much.

The story is loosely based on the Jane Foster storyline from Marvel's Silver Age Journey Into Mystery comic book, the Warriors Three back-up feature in the Thor comic, and the recent story of Thor losing his hammer by J. Michael Straczynski. Also, I suspect that Branagh has seen Neal Adam's comic book art, with its many tilted panels (though not when Adams drew Thor), because in this movie the camera is often tilted to one side and occasionally upside down. The upside down camera to indicate the point of view of an upside down person is a movie cliché, but anyone who has actually been upside down knows that an upside down person sees the world right-side-up. The inner ear knows.

The movie isn't bad, but it never thrilled me the way the Jack Kirby comic book did. The special effects are expensive, but seldom dramatic. The transformation, over the course of a few days, of Thor's character from mindless brawler to sensitive lover is not convincing, to put it mildly, nor is the transformation of his language from Stan Lee Norse to modern slang.

The best superhero movies have good dialogue and memorable characters. Here there are too many characters, who only stand out if you already know them from the comics, and no dialogue that sticks in my mind.

The most interesting character is Loki. My interest perked up whenever he was on screen. But in the climactic battle between Thor and Loki, Loki is so obviously overmatched, it's like watching Superman battle Aquaman.

And Volstagg the Magnificent is several orders of magnitude too thin. Given that Orson Wells is dead, there are surely some really fat actors among the living.

Even the post-credit scene is a cookie-cutter credit cookie.

Copyright © 2011 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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