So, I'm a dork and a total sucker for comic book movies. Truthfully, my most-anticipated movies of the summer are Thor, Captain America and Green Lantern.
What I liked...
I thought that choosing Kenneth Branagh to direct was a truly inspired choice. Looking at his previous movies, you don't know how he'd do a big-budget, comic book movie. His name has become synonymous with Shakespearean adaptations. But the good comic book movies are less about the effects and more about the story, the characters and their relationships. That's why Spider-Man, Iron Man and The Dark Knight are fun. It's why Green Lantern could really suck. And ultimately, it's why Branagh succeeds with Thor. Though there are plenty of breathtaking CGI sequences, there seems to be a concerted effort on characters. And there's plenty of Shakespeare in Thor. You have betrayal and deception. You have nefarious plots by family. You have revenge. You have star-crossed lovers. You have family conflicts. It's all handled and balanced well.
I loved the casting and acting. The producers of Thor took a gamble on Chris Hemsworth. Hemsworth was previously most-known as Captain Kirk's father who died in the first 15 minutes of Star Trek. He shined in Thor. He owned the movie and brought out Thor's swagger, and good for him. Thor's got Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, and a bunch of "I knew that guy!" guys. The acting (especially the Asgardians) was just terrific. Idris Elba's Heimdall's presence was awesomely absurd.
And the chick who plays Sif is really hot.
What I didn't like... The story made sense, but the stakes were meh. Nothing we cared about was threatened. Thor encounters The Destroyer. If he loses, the Destroyer will destroy the world... I guess. But until then, he's destroying a tiny town in New Mexico that looks like it was constructed out of paper a couple of weeks ago. (It was a nice contrast to Asgard, but one must wonder if they ran out of money.) Thor gets beaten up pretty badly, but there was never any suspense that he was actually in danger. The movie's called THOR, for fuck's sake. So, after he destroys the Destroyer, he goes to fight his brother to stop his brother from destroying the world of the Frost Giants. So, what if Thor lost? In the movie, we encounter three realms, and the one we give the least fuck about is in danger. Douchey-mc-bro-bro would kill a world of Frost Giants. It's genocide, and genocide sucks, sure... but would anyone give a crap? I'd walk out of the theater thinking it was pretty fucked up, but I wouldn't lose sleep if the evil, fictional Frost Giants died. Earth wasn't threatened. Asgard wasn't really threatened... Meh.
There's an inherent problem with origin story movies, and it's that the movie is only about the character's origin (which is very necessary with a hero like Thor). I guess, in the first movies, the hero has to fight himself. Here's hoping it gets enough box office to see Thor fight a bigger bad.
In general, Thor is a great, fun way to start off the summer.
I give Thor 7 out of 10 Swans a Swimming.