Kenneth Branagh does the impossible with the movie Thor. He transforms a character from an insincere self-absorbed thrill seeking warrior into someone with frailty, honor, and kindness. The personality transformation of Thor in this film is believable and that is a testament to the acting talent of Chris Hemsworth as Thor. The story of the origins of the God of Thunder begins with Thor and his brother Loki as children being instructed by their father King Odin on what it takes to be a great king. King Odin tells his children that they have to be responsible with the power they will eventually be given and that a good king knows when to go to war with enemy factions. Neither son takes this advice to heart and each drifts in their own way from King Odin’s principles. Thor becomes a great warrior but is self-absorbed and cocky. On the day of his ascension to the throne a great power is stolen from his home Asgard and he decides to go the enemy planet and retaliate. The chain of events that follow his reckless actions lead to him being banished from the kingdom of Asgard and he is sent to Earth where he spends his time learning the culture of human beings and seeking out his hammer.
Usually if I knew that this was the whole plot of a film I would worry about the sanity of this film’s screenwriters but luckily both environments that Thor inhabits are fleshed out well enough for his journey to make sense. The arrogance displayed by Thor displays his impatience with not being recognized as the warrior he feels he is. I think that while this does not endear me to the character it allows for some humorous dialogue between Thor and Jane, one of the people of earth that he interacts with on Earth. He only realizes his true potential when he is told that his father has passed away and he cannot come home from his exile. The sorrow on his face is all I needed to understand the pain he was going through and root for his character to find a way to do the right thing when it came to saving the people of Earth. Thor is also the first movie by Marvel Studios to fully serve as a prequel to the Avengers film coming to theaters in 2012. The usage of S.H.I.E.L.D. in this film gives the viewers a sense that a much larger story is on the horizon. The only other actor who shines in Thor is Natalie Portman as Jane. While we are not given much in terms of her back story Jane is a character that has a love of science that ultimately grounds the earth portion of the story.
While Thor is a good movie I think its value will be determined by how strong the story for the Avengers movie is. I can only recommend this movie but I hope the sequel expands on the lore of this comic book hero.