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Thor 3D (Blu-ray + DVD)

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Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy - Fantasy / Suitable for 12 years and over / Director: Kenneth Branagh / Actors: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgard ... / Blu-ray released 2011-09-26 at Paramount Home Entertainment

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      02.05.2012 21:15
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      A great movie, and a worthy addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe

      After Marvel Studios had great success in bringing Iron Man, a character perceived to be only popular in the comics, to the big screen, they began working on other solo hero projects with the overall aim to produce The Avengers; the first time a movie would be made using multiple characters from individual movies to share one universe. The Avengers movie is out now as I write this, so it prompted me to watch one of the earlier movies to see how the two link together.

      Thor is another one of Marvel's lesser-known characters outside the comic-books, compared to the likes of Spider-Man and Wolverine. Based loosely on the Norse legends, which are referenced in the movie as being inspired by the fictional Asgardian race, which is a nice bit of confusing 'chicken and the egg' theorem. Thor lives in Asgard with his father, Odin and brother, Loki, and acts as protectors of the nine realms across more insidious races such as the Frost Giants, but when the fragile truce between the Asgardians and Frost Giants of Jotunheim is threatened by Thor's strong-minded techniques, the Asgardian prince is banished to Midgard, better known to me and you as Earth.

      I was unsure whether I would like the Norse mythology aspects to the story, but the film manages to make it seem convincing by portraying the Asgardians as otherworldly gods that inhabit another 'realm' as opposed to being spiritual. The mixture of magic and technology that is showcased in the frankly stunning CGI city of Asgard helps us identify with the characters and grounds them nicely into our world, explaining that the more primitive humans in the past had to explain their technology away as being Gods, which created our myths and legends.

      The action scenes were very entertaining, and there was a healthy sense of humour to the proceedings too, which made the film very enjoyable. The 'fish out of water' scenes with Thor on Earth were handled well, but it was the sequences on Asgard that were the most visually and dramatically stunning. While I understand that the film needed to be set on Earth to both help the audience identify with the storyline, and secondly set up the forthcoming Avengers film, I do wish there had been more sequences in the fantastical Asgardian worlds. Perhaps a sequel would explore this area more, since it is something seldom shown in comic-book movies, which are so determined to set things in 'our universe'.

      The cast is really strong, with great performances from Chris Hemsworth (Thor) who manages to start the film as brash and impatient, but evolves into a charming and thoughtful character. I also liked the calculating and sly Loki, played by Tom Middleston, who is so subtle in his performance that those watching the film unaware of the characters histories would not expect him to change allegiances throughout the movie. He also plays Loki much more complicated than I would have expected.

      As a relatively novice to Thor (but not to comics), I really enjoyed this and found that it didn't require any prior knowledge from the comics, as it explained all of the characters well, and their relationship with each other. The robotic villian known as The Destroyer was actually quite threatening, despite looking too similar to Iron Man (something that is poked fun at in the dialogue, when The Destroyer first appears) and the Ice Giants didn't look quite as visually interesting as they could have been, so for any sequels, I would appreciate more varied designs for the enemies drawing on the fantastical elements of Thor's mythology once more.

      I watched this film on the 3D Blu-Ray version, and whilst the high-definition special effects were amazing, I did not find too much awe in the setpieces, and even forgot that I was experiencing it in 3D at one point. Whereas some movies, particularly animated ones, benefit from the 3D effect, this was not one of these and could easily be enjoyed in a plain Blu-Ray format.

      There were some neat special features, such as the special mini-movie, "The Consultant" which focused on Agent Coulson, the cameo SHIELD agent who has appeared in both Iron Man films and now, Thor. With Coulson said to be appearing in the Avengers movie too, along with Nick Fury, it was fun to see this short video delving into his history and tying the Marvel Cinematic Universe together.

      There was also a Digital Copy with my Blu-Ray, which unfortunately crashed on my PC, but through previous experiences they are very simple to install, especially using iTunes, but unfortunately because my disc had some smudges on the rim, it would not install the digital copy, and typically I cannot find the receipt. But for less clumsy disc handlers, I'm sure the digital copy installs perfectly and easily, then is able to be viewed on iPod, iPads or iPhones at ease.

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