Evening Express (City Final) - The Guide - - FRONT PAGE - By Da­mon Smith

KEN­NETH Branagh re­turns to the di­rec­tor’s chair for a spe­cial ef­fects-laden romp based on the pop­u­lar Marvel Comics su­per­hero Thor. This is cer­tainly his most tech­ni­cally de­mand­ing film to date but the mi­asma of dig­i­tal trick­ery and py­rotech­nics doesn’t ap­pear to faze Branagh, who bal­ances the slam bang thrills of a sum­mer block­buster with ten­der ro­mance and broad com­edy. Chris Hemsworth cer­tainly pos­sesses the im­pos­ing phys­i­cal pres­ence of the tit­u­lar ham­mer-wield­ing god of thun­der, who is brought down to Earth – lit­er­ally – to learn about hu­mil­ity. A gra­tu­itous top­less scene pays tribute to the count­less hours he spent in the gym pre­par­ing for the role. He sen­si­bly leaves the emo­tion to Os­car win­ners Natalie Port­man and An­thony Hop­kins, who in­ject pas­sion and fury to a pre­dictable nar­ra­tive that jour­neys from AD 765 to the present day, in­cor­po­rat­ing el­e­ments of clas­si­cal Norse mythol­ogy to the un­der­ly­ing story of sib­ling ri­valry. In the fan­tas­tic realm of As­gard, ruled by Odin (Hop­kins) and his wife Frigga (Rene Russo), Thor (Hemsworth) is an ar­ro­gant heir to the throne. He acts first and thinks later, en­dan­ger­ing the lives of his trusty com­pan­ions Vol­stagg (Ray Steven­son), Sif (Jaimie Alexan­der), Ho­gun (Tadanobu Asano) and Fan­dral (Joshua Dal­las) by launch­ing a sui­ci­dal at­tack on the Frost Gi­ants led by the men­ac­ing Laufey (Colm Fe­ore). “You are a vain, greedy, cruel boy!” rages Odin, who strips his son of his pow­ers and his leg­endary war ham­mer, and dis­patches him to Earth as pun­ish­ment. The fallen god ma­te­ri­alises in the desert of Puente An­tiguo, New Mex­ico, where

“At­tack on the Frost Gi­ants”

he be­friends sci­en­tist Erik Selvig (Stel­lan Skars­gard), protegee Jane Fos­ter (Natalie Port­man) and in­tern Darcy (Kat Den­nings). The spark of at­trac­tion be­tween Thor and Jane is pal­pa­ble. But with­out his pow­ers, the fallen god must face the same tri­als and tribu­la­tions as any other mor­tal. Mean­while, back in As­gard, Thor’s brother Loki (Tom Hid­dle­ston) seizes an op­por­tu­nity to as­cend the throne and steer the king­dom in a new direc­tion. Thor is an en­ter­tain­ing in­tro­duc­tion to the mus­cle-bound hero and friends, who re­turn to the big screen in 2012 as part of The Avengers. Ac­tion set pieces are or­ches­trated at

Ed Helms is adorable as Tim Lippe.

SPARK: Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Port­man.


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