Thor 5*

Preview. Norse god grows up to be a man. 2-5* starts at Puente Antiguo (Old Bridge in Spanish, Bifrost bridge to Norse Heaven) New Mexico boonies. Astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman tiny 5'3"), student Darcy (Kat Dennings) and prof Erik (Stellan Skarsgård), chase storms, but Jane crashes into big stranger, twice. Slapstick comic moments amid cataclysm. Rating lowered by high-noon confrontation, one big kiss. Epic suits big screen. Sequel hopeful?

Flashback to Norway 965 AD, Viking god Odin Allfather (Anthony Hopkins) with two eyes and army conquers evil Frost Giants and their Ice Age. Forward to Asgard, eye-patch lectures two sons arrogant blond first-born and sly dark-hair. Forward to today, coronation interrupted by defence breach, repulsed.

Now grown, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) incites Thor (Chris Hemsworth divinely muscular 6'3" Australian) to investigate the invasion with good-looking under-used team Warriors Four: Sif (Jamie Alexander), Fandral (Josh Dallas), Hogun (Tadanobu Asano), Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) - I'd gladly see more.

Gigantic special effects: dimensional travel, frozen wasteland, flaming explosions, towering monsters. The scope is so big, the subtlety of fine acting is overwhelmed. Goddess Freya (Rene Russo) doesn't even show off talent, even partial face of Gatekeeper Heimdall (Idris Elba) has voice accentuated.

Odin boots out Thor, his power, his hammer. Lodged firmly like Arthur's sword, the weapon waits for a strong enough master. Government men in black SHIELD, led by Coulson (Clark Gregg) interfere, like villains, with Jane and Thor.

Surprise twists between Loki and Laufey Frost King (understated, Canadian Colm Feore inside 6-hour makeup), Odinsleep, how hammer first responds to Thor, the final promise and choices of Thor and Loki. Can disbelief suspend far into the Nine Realms? Human can fall for god, god may want human, but forever? How can the arrogant war-lover learn to rule with humility, negotiation, generosity? Will heroes sacrifice all to save others? Will force triumph -

Spoiler: - even over love? After-credits scene has Erik, Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson), artifacts glow with unlimited power, background whisper from Loki, links to the overall Avenger team series theme (Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, more to come).

Extra Commentary Trivia by Director Ken Brannagh: Stan Lee cartoon genius has cameo as trucker pulling Molinjar hammer. Water Tower says Welcome to the Home of the Vikings in small town film built near Santa Fe. The sniper above Thor and Molinjar is Avenger Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).

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