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In 965 AD, Odin, king of Asgard, wages war against the Frost Giants of Jotunheim and their leader Laufey, to prevent them from conquering the nine realms, starting with Earth. The Asgardian warriors defeat the Frost Giants and seize the source of their power, the Casket of Ancient Winters. In th...
Thundering into the Marvel filmverse comes Thor, the Norse god of thunder, to save the day in not one, not two, but THREE different worlds. A sort of coming-of-age tale with the bar set Asgardianly high, the film follows Thor's (Christopher Hemsworth) development from a naïve, brash, young warrior to a noble deity who respects the value of all life, eventually making the ultimate sacrifice to protect it.
The crown jewel of 'Thor' is Tom Hiddleston's performance as Loki, half-brother to Thor and son of the treacherous Laufey, king of the frost giants. Given his particular background and upbringing (raised by Odin after he conquered the frost giant's land Jotunheim), one can't help but sympathize with him despite his villainous shenanigans. All he wants is to feel like he belongs, is that so much to ask? Apparently so for Thor, who thwarts Loki's attempt to destroy Jotunheim and Thor's friends. Sympathizing with the villain is always a tricky film trope to pull off, but director Kenneth Branaugh did an excellent job making sure we didn't despise or adore Loki too much or too little, but just enough to see where he's coming from.
Thor and Loki aside, the supporting cast was equal parts epic and disappointing. Two figures that stood out for me were Heimdall (guardian of the Bifrost Bridge) and Odin (who needs no introduction). Heimdall's character, made infamous by certain conservative groups, is played by African-American actor Idris Elba. It may seem counterintuitive to cast a black man as a Norse (read: white) god, but this was definitely a good casting choice. Elba shows Heimdall's grim countenance to a T, delivering some of the film's best quotable lines, including my favorite:
Thor: “I have no plans to die today!”
Heimdall: “None do.”
Odin, played by the venerable Anthony Hopkins, was given a disappointing amount of lines for how great of an actor he is. However, it is for that reason that he figuratively drops the mic after every line delivery. It reminds me somewhat of the guy who played Winston Churchill in Tarantino's 'Inglourious Basterds'; they put so much work and research into their roles for a scant few lines. It's that kind of dedication that keeps me respecting Hopkins.
As for the Lady Sif and the Warriors Three, I felt that they were under-represented. The casting of Fandral the Dashing, Hogun the Grim, and Volstagg the Valiant also fell under some scrutiny, as Hogun is played by Tadanobu Asano, but once again the directorial choice despite ethnicity worked well with the film. Action sequences were action-y, lines are delivered with skill and timing, and the visual effects are stunning, especially the establishing shots of Asgard and Jotunheim.
Overall, 'Thor' is cast well, written well, and stays faithful enough to the original Marvel comics/Norse mythology canon that any oversights or shortcomings are easily forgiven. After all, it's hard notice mistakes when you're so captivated.