As the fourth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor is a film that takes Norse mythology and science-fiction and blurs the line between them. The Asgardians are a race of aliens who were deified by the Vikings. Back in present day, the newly crowned king of Asgard and god of thunder, Thor (Chris Hemsworth, The Cabin in the Woods, Snow White and the Huntsman) launches a pre-emptive strike on the Ice Giants. But after this goes wrong, his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs, Dracula) takes his power and banishes him to earth. Here he meets the astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman, Black Swan, V for Vendetta), while back at home, everything isn’t as calm as it seems…
There is so much that could have gone wrong with Thor, but thankfully director Kenneth Branagh just about manages to pull it off. It might seem like an odd type of film for someone like him to direct, but he treats it like a Shakespearian drama. This is reflected by the quality of the acting and the intense focus on the dramatic scenes. Not only do the leading actors stand strong, but Thor also features a good supporting cast. This ranges from the likes of Idris Elba (The Wire, Luther) playing a sullen Heimdall, the gatekeeper to Asgard, to veteran actor Anthony Hopkins as Odin. Even the chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman works, even though their characters have only known each other for a few days.
But the star of the show here is Tom Hiddleston (War Horse, Midnight in Paris) as the films primary antagonist Loki. He is a deceptive, behind-the-scenes villain fuelled by jealousy and greed. But because of this, he sadly suffers in a lack of direct confrontation, so that has a negative lack of action sequences. After the first thirty minutes or so, the action slows down, with even the climax becoming lacklustre. But Hiddleston makes up for this by the smooth performance he gives.
On the whole, Thor is an enjoyable blockbuster that has a high calibre of acting. Unfortunately, the action scenes fall a little short, but it comes together well and works and a great introduction to the most difficult of the Avengers to do.