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Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgard, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Kat Dennings, Jeremy Renner, Idris Elba, Jaimie Alexander, René Russo, Samuel L Jackson, Ray Stevenson, Clark Gregg, Colm Feore
Director: Kenneth Branagh
In many ways, such costume blockbusters as Thor are the natural successors to the sword-and-sandal epics of the 1940s and 1950s. Here, after a preamble in modern times, it's the 10th century, and the Norse gods, led by Odin (Hopkins, now an all-purpose father figure in such sagas) are in a permanent state of fragile peace with their age-old enemies the frost giants.
After a frosty infiltration of the gods' HQ, Asgard, Odin's headstrong son Thor (Hemsworth), wielder of a powerful magic hammer, determines to take revenge on the frosties, accompanied by his three knights, the warrior Lady Sif (Alexander) and his seemingly devoted brother Loki, who, as played by the slightly shifty-looking Hiddleston, is clearly destined to be the villain of the piece.
The resulting disaster from the ill-judged expedition causes Odin to banish Thor from Asgard, landing him in present-day Earth, where he is knocked down by a jeep driven by scientist Jane (Portman, further tarnishing her Oscar reputation).
The action then switches from Earth - where government agents soon become involved - back to Asgard, where Loki swiftly seizes power.
The present-day scenes are pretty uninteresting, while the Asgard dramas, boosted by Bo Welch's amazing production design, at least contain more character and action - until Thor's fantastic four land on Earth to rescue him.
Not much here that we haven't seen before in fantasy-land, this is about mid-range in the Marvel cannon, with decent special effects, and serviceable acting, especially from Hiddleston and Hopkins. Unfortunately, the ending mimics the one recently seen in Tron: Legacy.
There's a lengthy scene after the credits, which serves as a teaser for the coming sequel The Avengers.
USA 2011. UK Distributor: Paramount. Colour by deluxe.
114 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.
Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.
Review date: 23 Apr 2011