The run-up to next year's "The Avengers" continues with "Thor", which boasts two Oscar winners in its ensemble cast supporting newcomer Chris Hemsworth as the Thunder God.
Thor (Hemsworth) is banished from Asgard by his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins, "Silence of the Lambs") after he defies the Allfather and breaks the truce between Asgard and the home of the Frost Giants. Stripped of his powers, Thor crashes---literally---in a small New Mexico town, his landing buffeted by a collision with an SUV driven by scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman, a recent winner for "Black Swan"). Mjolnir, the mystic hammer of Thor, has drawn the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D., which cordons off the entire area. Learning of its location, Thor seeks to retrieve his weapon, only to discover that even he cannot lift it, as Odin no longer deems him worthy to wield it. For now.
Meanwhile, back on Asgard, Loki, Thor's half-brother, learns of his true origins, as Odin had taken him from the Frost Giants when he was a baby. Thus, Loki schemes to overthrow Odin and rule Asgard himself. Fate intervenes during an argument between the two, when Odin collapses into the Odinsleep, which could take forever before he awakens. Forever, of course, could be all the time Loki needs.
However, Sif & the Warriors Three (Fandral, Hogun, & Volstagg), in defiance of acting monarch Loki, decide to travel to Earth themselves to retrieve Thor. Loki had told his half brother that Odin had died, a little white lie to be sure, but enough to convince Thor not to consider returning home. The by-play between the two half-sibs will remind some of the interplay between Lex Luthor & Clark Kent during the early years of Smallville, at least in this writer's opinion. In response, Loki sends the Destroyer to eliminate Thor once and for all. Thor opts to take steps to evacuate the people of the town and get them out of harm's way, and that act of selflessness is enough, once Odin awakens, to reunite Mjolnir with Thor, and even the odds.
Inevitably, romance blossoms between Thor & Jane, but after a final battle with Loki, the rainbow bridge of Asgard is shattered, seemingly beyond repair---at least until "The Avengers"---and that forces Thor to keep tabs on his new-found beloved from high above.
One more link to the "Avengers" surfaces in the form of S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), whom comics fans know as Hawkeye. Fans of the current Avengers cartoon on DisneyXD know that Barton eventually left S.H.I.E.L.D. to go freelance and eventually join with Earth's Mightiest Heroes, and that plotline will likely be replicated in the movie.
I saw the movie in 3D, my first ever experience with a 3D film, and, well, it wasn't anything special. Sad to say, but the theatre where I saw "Thor" had a little problem with their remote projector, such that when it was time for the post-credit teaser to lead into July's "Captain America: The First Avenger", the projector shut off, denying the few of us that were in the theatre (and I mean that literally; there were just 7 of us in the theatre) the next links in the chain, if you will.
There are going to be those who will accuse the venerable Hopkins of phoning it in, something that he's been accused of doing ever since he completed the Hannibal Lecter series of films, but that isn't the case here. Hopkins fits in perfectly, though Rene Russo ("Lethal Weapon 3") isn't given much to do as Odin's wife, Frigga. Ray Stevenson ("Punisher War Zone", "The Other Guys") is totally unrecognizable, buried under a fat suit and makeup as Volstagg. Idris Elba (ex-The Wire) is understated and effective as Heimdall, the guardian of the rainbow bridge, and will likely return.
Of course, the fanboys will try to rate this in line with the two "Iron Man" movies, but I disagree. I rate it below those films and "Incredible Hulk". For Chris Hemsworth, the true litmus test comes in "Avengers", where he'll rub shoulders with Hulk (to be played by Mark Ruffalo) & Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) as well as Capt. America (Chris Evans, "Fantastic Four"). Will there be a "Thor 2"? I wouldn't be at all surprised. After all, there is a love story to be told.......