By Bryan K. Alfaro
October 5, 2011
Marvel Studios released its latest super hero movie “Thor” (2011) on DVD last month; Kenneth Branagh directed the film based on the origin story from the Marvel Comic of the same name.
Thor is the God of Thunder in Norse mythology and the son of Odin, who is the king of the gods.
While Marvel’s version of the story is rooted in the mythology, writer Stan Lee took liberties with the original Norse tales, making Thor’s wife Sif into a comrade in arms and changing the color of the thunder god’s hair from red to blond.
Odin, portrayed by Anthony Hopkins, is ready to step down from the throne and make Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth, the king of Asgard, the home world of the gods.
However, their nemeses the ice giants break into the Asgardians’ castle and interrupt the coronation ceremony.
After Thor disobeys his father’s wish for peace between the two realms, he brings Asgard to the brink of war with the ice giants.
Trying to teach Thor a lesson, Odin banishes him to Earth and takes away his powers as well as his mystical hammer Mjolnir.
Although a hammer might not sound like much, this powerful weapon allows Thor to fly, use lightning as a weapon and punch holes through large beasts—to highlight some of the film’s action scenes.
Natalie Portman plays scientist Jane Foster, who becomes the love interest for the God of Thunder after he comes crashing down to Earth.
From that point, mortal Thor goes through some comical and trying times trying to adapt to life on Earth, before the mess he left behind in Asgard comes looking for him on Earth.
Some critics were a bit befuddled as to why someone of Branagh’s caliber would direct a superhero movie, considering his numerous well-received renditions of Shakespearean material.
But “Thor” isn’t his first action movie; Branagh played the evil Dr. Loveless opposite Will Smith in “Wild Wild West” (1999).
Branagh joined the Royal Shakespeare Company at the age of 23, and obtained the lead part in stage productions of “Henry V” and “Romeo and Juliet.” He also directed and starred in mainstream film productions of “Henry V” (1989), “Much Ado About Nothing” (1993) and “Hamlet” (1996).
In April Branagh told the New York Times, in a telephone interview from London, that “Thor” was a vehicle to show his storytelling skills on the biggest stage he has been offered to date.
“I wanted fantastical images and science fiction and the primitive world all to collide,” he told the Times. “I wanted the humongous challenge of that.”
It didn’t hurt Branagh to reduce that “humongous challenge” by having two academy award winners in the cast, both Hopkins and Portman. Branagh himself has earned four Oscar nominations for his film work.
The production of “Thor,” which had an estimated $150 million budget and grossed $448.5 million worldwide in box office sales, relied on a fair amount of computer generated imagery (CGI) for Branagh’s different worlds to collide.
The visual aspects of the film were generally well-received by reviewers, such as The Hollywood Reporter.
However, the DVD release offers fans a meager four deleted scenes and commentary by Branagh for special features.
The film is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence and has a running time of 2 hours, 10 minutes.