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Thor (3D Blu-ray Review)

9 Sep, 2011 By: John Latchem

Street 9/13/11
Box Office $181 million
$29.99 DVD, $44.99 Blu-ray, $54.99 3D Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence.
Stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings, Anthony Hopkins, Rene Russo, Clark Gregg, Idris Elba, Colm Feore, Ray Stevenson.

At first glance, Kenneth Branagh would seem an odd choice to direct a superhero movie, but take a closer look at the material. Thor is a story of gods among men.

As could probably be expected, Branagh treats it like a Shakespearean epic, the tale of a king and his two sons, one destined to inherit the throne, the other a master manipulator with his own thirst for power. Odin (Anthony Hopkins) has named Thor (Chris Hemsworth) as his successor to rule the mystical realm of Asgard, but he finds the boy too arrogant to trust with power so he banishes him to Earth as a mortal to teach him lessons in humility. But soon Odin falls ill, leaving the mischievous Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in charge.

Interestingly, Branagh in his quite good solo commentary at first downplays the Shakespearean connections, referring to the film more in terms of general mythology, and then spends the rest of the movie comparing everything to scenes and characters from Shakespeare. However, Branagh’s sense of pride about his work on the film comes through so well that it helps build a greater appreciation for the film as a whole.

The end result is a solid piece of entertainment and one of the more fun comic book adaptations to come around in a while, fueled in large part by Branagh’s skilled hand and great music by Patrick Doyle, who imbues his regal themes with a sense of otherworldly adventure. The 3D is kind of jumpy in spots but works best in the climactic battle sequences.

It’s also quite evident, now that The Avengers is in production, how the producers are tightening the strings to create a bigger sense of inter-connectedness in preparation for next year’s big crossover movie being directed by Joss Whedon.

References to the bigger Marvel Universe are laced throughout Thor, from Iron Man’s Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) name-dropping Tony Stark, to a cameo by Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, and a post-credits sequence directed by Whedon that centers on a key plot element from Captain America: The First Avenger.

The Thor Blu-ray adds to this mix an awesome little short film called The Consultant that calls back all the way to a key cameo in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. It’s dubbed a “Marvel One-Shot” to enhance the mood that this is all one big cinematic comic book series.

The disc also includes a three-minute Avengers preview that’s kind of half trailer and half featurette.

Rounding out the loaded Blu-ray are deleted scenes, some of which are extended sequences with partially completed visual effects, and 50 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes.

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