Parallel worlds of mayhem
Director Kenneth Branagh breaks out of his familiar Shakespearean mould with his adaptation of Marvel's Thor. In the movie, the bull-headed god Thor (Chris Hemsworth) reignites a war between Asgard, his kingdom, and Jotunheim and its population of frost giants. As punishment, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), his father and king of the gods, banishes him to Earth to live among the mortals and learn from his hasty actions.
Thor crash-lands on physicist Jane Foster's (Natalie Portman) research van - of course, romance is in the offing. But with Thor gone, his scheming brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) hatches a plan to seize the throne.
The drama in the movie unfolds on two different levels - Earth and the mythical realm of Asgard - in a jarring back-and-forth. At times it looks as if characters have stepped out of a set with green screen only to enter a rom-com set. While Asgard gatekeeper Heimdall (Idris Elba) looks impressively menacing, with his mighty armour and sword, you dread the moments when he opens and closes the portal between lands - the machine noises and psychedelic CGI often border on overkill.
That said, Thor is a fun film. The dynamics between Odin and his two sons are riveting, and Hemsworth is a likeable Thor. With its latest offering, Marvel has the makings of another successful franchise on its hands.
If Thor is anything to go by, Marvel's highly anticipated The Avengers is going to be well worth the ticket price.