Thor He’s a Jolly Good Fellow
Kenneth Branagh isn’t a name you’d link to a fresh foray into Marvel’s cinematic universe, but for the Shakespearian actor and director, the gig has a classic appeal, not immediately apparent to its target audience. He’s on record, comparing the story, with its passing King, warmongering heir and clash of kingdoms, with the Bard’s Henry V.
If you’re Branagh, who drinks tea from a Yorick skull and petitioned Marvel to change the titular character’s name to Thou, the opportunity to make a fantastical version of this classic story while indulging in a schoolboy regression, must have been too good to pass up.
It’s odd then, that watching the undeniably enjoyable result, recalls a different Branagh adaptation, that of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, for in Thor Branagh has crafted a very modern Prometheus; an unlikely fusion of Gary Goddard’s Masters of the Universe and Mike Hodges’ Flash Gordon.
Like Goddard’s cartoon hero, Thor, chiselled from a block of arrogance by Chris Hemsworth, is a super-human colossus, who’s marooned in small town America and invites its destruction when his galactic foes arrive to finish him off. The film flits between this Earth bound, God out of water low comedy – Thor walking into a pet shop and demanding a horse for example, and superior scenes on his home planet of Asgard.
It’s within Asgard’s gold and ornate confines, which owe much to the Mongo of 1980, that Branagh can indulge himself and let loose with florid language, duelling warriors, internecine warfare and thick camp spread over a lavish computer generated landscape. This is the meat of the film and it shows; its melodramatic, in the Shakespearian mould, epic in scale, thanks to the computing power unleashed, and often exhilarating.
Branagh has more trouble with the Earth bound scenes, which, like Goddard’s similarly troubled He-Man flick, threatens to be the flabby mid-section, bookended by otherworldly mayhem. It suffers for lack of incident. Thor is found, taken to the nearest town by a team of scientists, makes them breakfast, tries to retrieve his hammer, fails, gets drunk, goes back to the town and gets attacked – that’s it. Worse, the film relies on this inactive spell to facilitate the movie’s big, climatic emotional moment, in which Thor is faced with a dilemma, namely does he sever the connection between Asgard and Earth or not?Pages: 1 2