'Thor' Is Competent, But Nothing Special

“Thor” is a comic-book movie in 3D – no more, no less.

In its own way, it’s eye-pleasing, exciting and entertaining. In the bigger sense – the world of movies as a whole – it’s competent but nothing special. Put it this way: If you’re a fan boy, you’re already predisposed to like this. If you’re not comic-book movie lover, this one won’t convert you.

Directed by Shakespearean auteur Kenneth Branagh, “Thor” is a fairly standard origin story. Which means that, while there are adventures had by the central character – Thor, Norse god of thunder – this movie is more about establishing who he is and what he’s about.

In that sense, it’s a lot like the first films in the “X-Men,” “Spiderman” and “Iron Man” series. You get the feeling that there’s a lot of revving the engine before Branagh actually engages the gears.

Except, in this case, the costumes are a lot more elaborate or, depending on your point of view, a lot sillier – particularly the headgear. I think I saw a member of the British royal family wearing the same hat the Loki, the trickster, does in this film.

To thumbnail it: Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the headstrong and arrogant son of Norse god Odin (Anthony Hopkins), is banished to Earth and stripped of his powers by his father. So he’s got to prove that he’s worthy to be Odin’s successor as king of the Norse gods – and save Earth (and his new Earthling lady love, a geeky scientist played by Natalie Portman) in the process.

To his credit, Branagh seems to get what 3D is about. He keeps his camera moving, which means the viewer is riding that camera crane right along with Branagh. But he avoids making it a white-knuckle ride; instead, it feels like you’re plunged into the image.

Still, once upon a time, filmmakers achieved that in 2D just by shooting and telling the story with skill and vision. There’s nothing about “Thor” that screams, “This MUST be in 3D.”

Nor does “Thor” say much of anything else, other than, “Look at all the commercial tie-ins we’ve got.”

3½ stars out of 5

Read the whole "Thor" review here

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