Year Released: 2011
Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston
(PG-13, 130 min.)
"There goes Thor’s own Hammer, Cracking the dark in two!" Rudyard Kipling
Unleash your inner Viking and embrace Thor, the Norse god overflowing with macho charm and bulging pectorals. It’s enough to make you wonder why you even bothered to look at all those skinny metrosexuals taking over the airwaves as well as considerable portions of New York City.
No, Thor, played with just the right amount of Fabio abandon by Australian Chris Hemsworth, is no dithering Danish prince fretting over “to be or not to be.” He’s itching for battle, so much so that he risks a hard won peace with the Frost Giants to exact revenge upon them for sending a small emissary into his realm of Asgard on his would be coronation day.
While it is his physical powers that are emphasized, Thor does have an uncanny ability to persuade, as he uses his utter self-confidence to urge his small band of loyal warriors with him on this mission in defiance of his father, the King Odin (Anthony Hopkins).
And it is this exuberance, this lost art of Norse braggadocio so celebrated in epics like Beowulf that seems almost a tonic to many of us tired of pseudo intellectual fodder that is taken for gravitas in our modern world. Thor is a bigger than life hero, unburdened by politically correct shibboleths such as saving the environment, eking out revenge against a ruthlessly corrupt CIA, or unmasking the evils of corporate greed. He has lots of Tony Stark’s arrogance, some of his charm, only a small portion of his genius, but 100 percent of his willful determination.
Thor is on a mission to get his hammer back, which has landed unceremoniously just like Thor, but at a certain distance from the former god who has been stripped of his standing and power and thrust down upon earth, or more specifically, New Mexico.
Unlike his better-known Alien immigrant, Superman, Thor lacks that empathy for human kind, and sees it as none of his business to cater to or protect them. Of course, he is full-grown when he lands here, in the fullness of his overweening arrogance, not Superman’s orphaned toddler from Krypton. And he’s not into rescuing damsels in distress either. Thor’s more of a man’s man. He is most comfortable on earth when he is slinging back Boiler Maker’s with Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and carting the inebriated scientist back home over his very ample shoulders.
Of course, a certain hesitancy toward earth’s “gentler sex” may be understandable, since Thor first encounters scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) when she smashes her SUV into him. Then, staggering to his feet, he blinks at the blinding headlight beam in his eyes: “How dare you threaten me, Thor, with so puny a weapon?” Lab assistant Darcy (Kat Dennings) responds with her taser. Without even bothering to say, “Don’t tase me, bro!” he drops unceremoniously to the ground.
This is but the beginning of a series of small humiliations that the god, now stripped of his superhuman strength, must endure. Perhaps the most unsettling is his attempt to wrest his hammer from where it is semi buried in the earth. After battling his way into a tent city fortress quickly erected by the FBI, muscle–bound Thor is helpless to retrieve his weapon, kind of a tragic reversal of the young unknown Arthur easily pulling an embedded Excalibur from a stone.
Of course, Thor ultimately learns to depend on others for help, which is of course, part of the purpose of his exile on earth. Portman’s Jane Foster – is her first name a purposeful echo to Tarzan’s jungle companion? – is there to assist. She is cute but a little on the Geeky side, and eminently more likeable that the tangled neurotic of Black Swan, and a welcome return to wholesomeness from that strident tribute to hedonism, No Strings Attached, which lost me when she screeched in the trailer, “Why can’t we just have sex?” (Incidentally, Thor is better than its trailers, which only catch the action and some snatches of its humor, but miss its idealism and grandeur.)
Anthony Hopkins as Odin, often overlooked because we have come to take his oversized talent for granted, as perhaps he has as well, commands with just a look of his eye, and that is just as well, because by the time the film begins he is down to one. Tom Hiddleston plays Loki, the God of Mischief, with a kind of Heathcliff truculence (from the Emily Bronte novel, not the comic strip) hidden under his protestations of brotherly love and loyalty. We suspect he is a bad lot right from the beginning, but Hiddleston manages to put some texture into his portrayal and encourages just the slightest hint of empathy for his Loki.
The battle scenes, in particular those on Thor’s realm when he picks a fight with the Frost Giants, are exhilarating. With their pale skin, their blood red eyes, and the ability to render their opponents into ice with a single touch, they are indeed frightening adversaries. That Thor and his small band pick a fight with them on their home turf speaks to both his courage and foolhardiness. But it’s a great excuse to see his mighty weapon at work, hammering the bad guys. By the way, I was perfectly fine without the expensive 3D enhancements, which I am beginning to find an annoying gimmick to separate us from our wallets.
With its professional cast as well as our exciting Australian newcomer and a tongue in cheek humor that checks any overreach, this is the first must see film of the summer. And don’t forget the popcorn.
One of the funnier scenes of culture clash when Thor lands on earth concerns his appetite. He eats a complete box of pop tarts and then settles down to a full plate of eggs, bacon, and all the fixings at a local diner. It is so good, he wants more, and he discreetly signals the waitress of his desire by smashing his coffee cup on the floor.
Here is a past recipe for Swedish Pancakes that might fill up some of you with Thor’s appetite.
I am opting for another recipe dating back to Viking times. This is an eggnog called Eggedosis, although this Norwegian version is served in a dish and eaten with a spoon. It is a favorite on their Independence Day, May 17th, the equivalent of our Fourth of July. Make some and celebrate. You’re just a day or two off. Of course, today is Thursday, named in Thor’s honor.
Eggedosis is the national dish served in Norway on May 17, a date that corresponds to our 4th of July. It is a thick egg cream, eaten from a dish with a spoon. The grownups cheer their Eggedosis with a little brandy. Eggedosis is served with cookies. It is best made with an electric beater, since beating the eggs is the main trick. Eggedosis means special occasions.
- 12 egg yolks
- 2-egg whites
- 12 Tbsp, sugar
- Cognac and vanilla
Beat the eggs and sugar until very thick. Flavor part with vanilla for the children and the rest with Cognac or sherry for the grownups.
Recipe Source: TheVikingsWorld.com