This past summer was a big gamble for Marvel. They got lucky with Iron Man a few years back and already had years to familiarize the audience with Hulk, but now it was time to introduce some of the lesser known characters to the masses. Guys like Thor and Captain America would finally be getting their own movies to help kick-start The Avengers, which blasts its way to cinemas next year. Thor was always the biggest gamble because of his origins. He isn’t some guy in a high tech suit or some scientist who messed up on an experiment, oh no, Thor is from another realm. He is no doubt the hardest comic book sell in recent memory because of his mystical background. He’s more Lord of the Rings than Batman or Spider-Man. But Marvel was smart and gave the directing duties to Kenneth Branagh, a seasoned director who has worked on such films like Hamlet and Frankenstein. Branagh really knew how to balance the fantasy heavy Thor with human characters and even a bit of comedy to help lighten the mood.
The dialogue was delivered with force and passion thanks to Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and Anthony Hopkins. The first part of the film spends most of its time in Asgard setting up what looks like a routine story of jealously. One brother is soon going to be taking over his father’s crown and the other brother is jealous and plans an evil plot. Branagh could have gone the normal route and made us instantly root for Thor (Chris Hemsworth) while shunning out the evil and nasty Loki (Tom Hiddleston) but that wasn’t the case. Loki is a jaded character, but not for no particular reason. Actor Tom Hiddleston really helps add purpose to a usually flat character. He’s not just an evil brother that we don’t care about, but instead he’s a brother that only wants good for everyone around him, but due to his past realizations he is full of conflicted emotions. While Thor is the main character I still feel that Loki is the most interesting and most fleshed out of the bunch, which really helps balance the film.
Thor‘s story is simple; he goes against his father’s wishes, resulting in banishment from Asgard. He’s stripped of all his mighty powers and cast out to Earth. While Thor is trying to regain his humanity on Earth, Loki is brewing up destruction back home in Asgard. Odin (Anthony Hopkins), the father of Thor and Loki has fallen into a deep sleep, which leaves Loki with the thrown and Thor with nothing.
All of this is set up really nice thanks to Branagh’s eye for good dialogue. Thor plays out like a really good mystical sci-fi for the first half, with everything taking place in Asgard, but once he is sent to Earth the whole film switches gears really fast. We’re introduced to Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings). The first being the love interest, the second being the logical scientist/astrophysicist and the third being the comedic relief. Thor mingles with these characters briefly while trying to find his powerful hammer. Various action scenes get inserted and most of the character building is put on hold for bits of laughter. While Thor‘s second half is entertaining and enjoyable, it isn’t nearly as well fleshed out and interesting as its first half. Most people found this rapid change of pace to be offsetting, but I thought it made for a fun popcorn flick with a little more going for it than the usual crop of films.
Thor‘s main problem is the relationship between Thor and Jane. It never feels truly authentic, even though both performances are great. There is some chemistry between Hemsworth and Portman, but it never feels like it’s fully explored. I would have loved for Branagh to spend another 25 or 30 minutes on Earth, but I’m sure the film would have felt a little bloated at that point.
Even the small dip in quality in the second act couldn’t stop Thor from being an overall success, both in quality and financially. Thor has a powerful leader and a whole slew of great actors and actresses that help make it a unique comic book movie. It was a tough sell, but Branagh managed to sell it and the audience ate it up. The action is great, the camera work is just fine and the characters are for the most part interesting. Hemsworth and Hiddleston really stole the show as Thor and Loki thanks to their chemistry and dimensional characters. Portman does the best she can with such a small and shallow role. I don’t blame her for the lacking role, but I do blame the writers! Thor is one of my favorite Marvel adaptations because of how unique it is. It knows how to be serious one moment and silly the next. It was a blast in theaters and it’s a great movie to own and re-visit on Blu-ray.
Check out my full theatrical review of Thor right here.
Video: Thor comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p transfer, thanks to Paramount Pictures. The film takes place in three visually different locations and each one is represented perfectly on this Blu-ray disc. The image is always clean and crisp. The darker scenes are full of cold and ugly blues and blacks and the bright scenes always feel warm and soft. Detail and skin texture are always clear and a fine layer of natural grain covers the film.
Audio: Thor features a very loud 7.1 DTS-HD MA audio track. I don’t recall the last time I heard such a loud and active track. All of the battle scenes really shine with the extra 2 audio channels. Thor’s hammer flies around all of the speakers during the first battle in Jotunheim. Every single explosion or action sequence just pounds across the channels in a very detailed manner. Dialogue is easy to understand when it comes across the front channels.
Thor‘s special features are a little lacking, but some of them are still worth checking out. Here is a list of the features, all presented in high definition.
- Audio Commentary: Director Kenneth Branagh delivers a very informative and evenly paced audio track that is a great listen for fans. He gives plenty of details on his film style, structuring and general knowledge of the film.
- Marvel One-Shot: The Consultant (HD): A mini movie that ties in with the rest of the Marvel universe leading towards The Avengers. It covers a few loose ends left in The Incredible Hulk.
- From Asgard to Earth (HD): An interesting documentary that touches up on the various set designs and comic book inspirations.
- Our Fearless Leader (HD): The cast talks about director Kenneth Branagh.
- Assembling the Troupe (HD): A short look at assembling the cast, which includes Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins.
- Hammer Time (HD): A back story on the famous hammer of Thor, along with discussion on getting the design for the movie established and how important it was.
- Creating Laufey (HD): A brief look at the design of the main Frost Giant.
- Music of the Gods (HD): A look at composer Patrick Doyle and his music for the film.
- A Conversation (HD): Stan Lee, Craig Kyle and J. Michael Straczynski talk about Thor.
- Road to the Avengers (HD): A short compilation of clips from various Marvel films that all lead towards The Avengers.
- Deleted Scenes (HD): Various visually unfinished deleted scenes. Thankfully these were all removed because I didn’t really see anything worthy of making the cut. Lots of simple dialogue scenes. It was really weird seeing these scenes without the finishing visual touches done to them.
- Trailers (HD): Several trailers for Thor and its animated counterpart.
- Digital Copy
I really can’t recommend Thor enough. If you’re a fan of Marvel or comic books in general then you owe it to yourself to check it out. It manages to infuse a mystical tale into the modern world of comic book movies. Thor can proudly stand next to Tony Stark and Bruce Banner when it comes to popular Marvel characters. It’s a good film that makes great use of its cast and talented director. The dialogue is good, the action is fun and the whole film has such a grand visual style. Asgard is beautiful and really something I’d like to know more about and while the Earth scenes aren’t as good, they serve a good enough purpose to keep the film flowing.
Thor is a comic book movie that manages to balance its tones perfectly. It can be serious one moment and funny the next without ever feeling too silly or over serious. I’d love to see a sequel to Thor because the character is genuinely interesting and godly!
Paramount has given the Blu-ray disc knock-out video and audio transfers. The visuals change drastically when it switches realms and the 1080p transfer really benefits from the switch up in color. It’s full of both bright and dark colors. The audio track is a great recreation of the theatrical experience with 7 full channels! The first half is dialogue driven and not a word is missed and the second half, which features most of the action is going to wake the neighbors! While the special features aren’t that interesting I’d still recommend checking out a few of them. The Marvel One-Shot is a must view for anyone hyping themselves up for The Avengers and Kenneth Branagh‘s audio track is very informative.
The film is also bundled with a DVD and a Digital Copy for anyone looking to watch it on other formats. The Blu-ray for Thor is worth every penny. The film is great and it’s the type of film that really benefits from a high definition transfer, both in terms of visuals and audio. Plus, it comes with a small spread of decent special features and several formats of the film to watch it anywhere! Well worth it!
Movie – 8.5/10
Video – 9/10
Audio – 9/10
Special Features – 7/10
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