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Thor Is No Bore--But one Expects More

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The not quite Marvel-ous Thor from self-proclaimed comics afficionado Kenneth Branagh (who it seems, was only biding his time with all his Shakespeare movies), is the most schismatic superhero movie since Will Smith’s Hancock (Is it funny? Is it tragic?—What!!) The lesser part of Thor (in every way) is set in an outerworldly realm with a one-eyed king (Anthony Hopkins in regal warrior mode), his hotheaded, arrogant, hawkish son (the mighty Thor played by the seemingly mighty and fairly likable Chris Hemsworth) and his quietly brooding brother.

Thor earns a forced exile to Earth, having defied his father’s orders by confronting the kingdom’s enemies, notably monsters who can turn men to ice. On Earth (or more specifically-New Mexico), Thor runs into some scientific researchers led by the always interesting Stellen Skaasgard and the always-present Natalie Portman (is there any movie she’s not in). Their banter, the evolving relationships among the three–and the culture clash between a not-yet chastened Thor and the good–and not-so-good people of New Mexico are far more entertaining than the power struggles and betrayals that are crippling Thor’s homeland Asgard (by this time, Hopkins’ character has sunk into a coma and the other son is hardly man enough to carry the villain role). The New Mexico sequences contain more than a modicum of energy and humor–and the earthly action sequences–notably when Thor tries to reclaim his Mighty Hammer–pack a real punch. On the whole though, the movie needs to do a lot more if Thor is truly to stand alone as a potential franchise–and the filmmakers seem to know this, since a post-credits sequence give you a little teaser about his future adventures–as part of The Avengers.

Just one more thing: while I appreciate the occasional 3-D movie, the use of 3-D in Thor seems decidedly like a cynical ploy on the part of the studio in order to squeeze more sheckels out of the moviegoing public. Nowhere did I feel that the use of 3-D in this film enhanced the cinematic experience in any way–in this instance, it indeed left me feeling a little poorer.

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Mike Peros

Mike Peros is an author whose new book, DAN DURYEA - HEEL WITH A HEART, the first biography of classic Hollywood's iconic villain, was recently published by the University Press of Mississippi.  He is  also an educator with a passion for movies ever since he saw John Wayne riding toward the bad guys, reins between his teeth, in TRUE GRIT.  Some of his favorite films include THE BAND WAGON, THE WILD BUNCH, OUT OF THE PAST, THE SILENT PARTNER, IT'S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER ( a great musical--if you're a Gene Kelly fan, what are you waiting for?), and KONGA with the great Michael Gough.

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