The debut of a comic-book icon
Direction: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman
It’s quite a deviation for Kenneth Branagh. After all, an epic fantasy adventure isn’t normally associated with the director of intimate Shakespeare adaptations (Henry V, As You Like It).
The heartening news is that the big-screen debut of the Marvel comic-book icon is crammed with action, humour and even Shakespeare-style tragedy.
You don’t have to be well-versed in Norse mythology to appreciate Thor. Branagh succeeds in bringing the thunder god to visible life in this $150-plus extravaganza. The story is told with an admirable degree of craftsmanship and clarity.
Cast out of the heavenly realm for disobeying his father (Anthony Hopkins), the reckless hammer-wielder (Australian hunk Chemsworth) ends up in present day New Mexico. Accompanied by an astrophysicist (Portman), they must confront the forces dispatched by his villainous brother (Tom Huddleston) to annihilate mankind.
The son-et-lumiere spectacle hurtles along at a brisk pace. The production design, including a translucent glass bridge that links the cosmos, is techno-chic.
On the whole, Thor whets the appetite for the future installments suggested by the cameo scene by Samuel L Jackson after the end credits. Do stick around.