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Thor

Year: 2011
Studio: Paramount
Director: Kenneth Brannagh
Writer: Ashley Edward Miller/Zack Stentz/Don Payne/J Michael Straczynski/Mark Protosevich
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings, Rene Russo

I must be getting sicker of superhero movies than I thought – the rest of the world's audience and critics have loved this latest adaptation of a Marvel character. I just saw all the familiar elements so common to all of them (and I'm not going to list them here, I've done it a million times), many of them – like the CGI – turned up way too much. The scenes of Thor's (Hemsworth) Asgard home were as close to a cartoon as I've seen in a film.

There were way too many flashing lights, rainbow bursts of colour and fantastical structures and shapes. It was also too loud by half, from the fire-shooting robot thing that staged the climactic fight to the cannon thing that opens the bridges between worlds. And if anyone had to play the role of the older sage who issues profundities of wisdom every time he opens his mouth, I'm glad Anthony Hopkins was available.

In fact all the scenes in Asgard left me sniggering to myself. Like much of Clash of the Titans , I'm responding less and less to movies where the characters inhabit a supernatural realm and (because they're all deities or lords of some sort) every word they speak sounds like it's come from a US Presidential speechwriter.

Back when they did the Daredevil movie I reckon they were scraping the bottom of the barrel, but who was really interested in the Norse God of Thunder who comes to Earth in his own comic book movie? After shattering the peace his father Odin (Hopkins) has forged against the Frost monsters on their planet, Thor takes his crew to go and bust up their hood after a security breach, sparking a new mood of war.

For his transgression, his father casts him out to another realm called Earth, where he'll be just any other man. In fact the highest point of the story is in Thor's Earth days because of the fish out water comedy of an everyday schmoe thinking he's a God. He declares that he likes the drink he's just had in a roadside diner (coffee) and smashes the mug to the floor, shouting 'another!', then goes into a pet store demanding a horse to ride against his enemies.

His love interest is astrophysicist Jane, Natalie Portman continuing her campaign to storm the box office in much more audience friendly movies, and Aussie heart throb Hemsworth is appropriate man flesh for the title role, but the most interesting creative personality is Kenneth Brannagh behind the megaphone. It seemed a very weird choice to have one of the world's foremost Shakespearian actor/directors doing a popcorn blockbuster and much was made of the richness of characterisation Brannagh would bring to the film as a result.

Don't believe a word of such studio bluster. The dialogue is serviceable by a bunch of studio scripters-for-hire and you can tell Brannagh's had marketing execs looking over his shoulder approving the tone and structure every step. When you look at his recent CV, the acclaim of Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing are far behind his recent flops, which does more to explain his presence here.

The most interesting thing about the whole movie, if you're prepared to dig a little deeper, is the sexual subtext. With his rigid, heavy hammer in his hand Thor is the ultimate warrior – unshakable in his masculinity and confidence. When he's bought down to Earth and can't even pull it out of the mud from where Odin's thrown it he can be overpowered and his declarations of godhood are the subject of ridicule. He needs the love of a woman to coax him to become the man he's supposed to be and when he does so he gets his hands back on his iron-hard hammer and can conquer the realms again. What else is the whole story but a metaphor for the fear of sexual impotence?

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