The journey down the path to Marvel's The Avengers movie next year takes another step with the arrival of Thor, director Kenneth Brannagh's - yes, the Shakespeare movie guy - big operatic take on the Norse God of Thunder. While generally epic in scale, it's held back by some thin writing on the Earthly side of the ledger.
Chris Hemsworth - best known until now as Kirk's ill-fated father in the prologue of J.J. Abrams' 2009 Star Trek reboot - is Thor. A brash, arrogant young god, he angers his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins rocking Christopher Plummer's metal eye patch from Star Trek VI), after he leads an attack on the Frost Giants world after a sneak attack on the day he was to be made King of Asgard. Stripped of his powers and hammer, he's cast down to New Mexico until he learns some humility and become worthy of the power of Thor.
I don't know why the trailers downplay the Asgard side of things because those are the best parts. Brannagh manages to take material that could go waaaaaaaay over the top and keep it appropriately over the top with more bacon than ham in the performances. Hemsworth is really good, playing the fish out of water/humbled god arc well, and Tom Hiddleston is interesting as half-brother (and full villain) Loki. Some reviews have claimed he almost seems sympathetic, but I don't see him that way. Yeah, he's got daddy issues and a case of ingratitude, but how hard has his life really been? Twit. And as the traditional post-credits scene indicates, he'll be back as the Avengers villain.
Where the film runs flatter is the Earthly portions with the wasted Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, upgraded from a nurse in the comics to an astrophysicist of some sort. (The way they dispose of the Dr. Don Blake facet of the original comics is a neat touch.) Her research isn't given any greater significance and while she's more plausible as a scientist than Liv Tyler was in The Incredible Hulk, it's a nothingburger of a part. Kat Dennings as her tart, slacker assistant is cute (though why cover up that body?) and delivers much of the comic relief. While on the subject of women, look for Jaimie Alexander, who is Sif, Thor's kickass warrior chick pal, to become a major nerd icon as she looks like a cross between Missi Pyle (Galaxy Quest) and Lucy Lawless, which leads to the largest LOL in the whole movie.
Overall, Thor, is entertaining and slick to look at with above-average performances. It's just that it feels like it could've been longer and punchier with more for Portman to do.
Score: 8/10. See on the big screen at a matinee. Don't bother with 3D; it's dark and fast-moving.
This trailer is rather mediocre in selling the spectacle.