Thor

For summer movies, the first rule of fight club is that testosterone trumps estrogen. Hear it. Learn it. So does that mean Kristen Wiig and her bouquet-wielding bridesmaids will fall under the hammer of the mighty Thor, the mythical Marvel Comics prince played by Chris Hemsworth like Don Draper on steroids? Not so fast. There may be surprises.

Peter Travers reviews Thor in his weekly video series, "At the Movies With Peter Travers"

Thor, for all its digital sound and 3D fury, is a guy movie unafraid of showing its feminine side. As Norse gods go, Thor (Hemsworth) is quite the studly specimen who can fly among the clouds bending thunder and lightning to his will. But when Thor’s anger-management issues force his big daddy, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), to banish him from the mystical planet Asgard, Thor is in for a rude awakening. No sooner does the powerless prince land with a thud in the New Mexico desert than he goes all weak in the knees for Jane Foster, a research scientist played with smarts and a shy smile to die for by Natalie Portman.

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What to do when a Black Swan Oscar winner crushes on you? If you’re Thor, you learn to be tender even while plotting revenge on Loki (Tom Hiddleston, all gleaming, seductive evil), the jealous brother who turned Dad against you.

Thor cleverly has it both ways, heft and heart, only occasionally tripping on the speed bumps in the script by Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz and Don Payne. Directed by noted Shakespearean Kenneth Branagh with a class-act grasp of how action works best when it defines character instead of obliterating it, Thor comes on like thunder, delivering epic fireworks that don’t neglect the dramatic sparks ignited between father and son, brother and brother, and lovers from two different worlds.

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Hemsworth, an Aussie actor with a vocal command to match his heaving brawn, doesn’t just play the role, he owns it. I’m expecting both sexes will feel his impact. Teaming Thor in the upcoming Avengers with other Marvel heroes (Iron Man, Captain America and others) sounds like a party suitable even for ladies’ night.

From The Archives Issue 1131: May 26, 2011