The mighty Asgard is celebrating the crowning of their new king, Thor (Chris Hensworth), but an unexpected attack by the ice giants has put a halt on the crown.Odin (Anthony Hopkins) forbids his sons from retaliating, but Thor disobeys and brings Asgard to the brink of war. Odin is forced to exile Thor and send him to the mortal world. Odin sends Mjolnir to earth but cannot be lifted by Thor until he learns his lesson and earns his place back in Asgard.
This year has been busy with comic book and superhero adaptations with the likes of X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern, Captain America: The First Avenger, etc. but Thor appeared to be one of those stories that were simply rich and complex at the same time. Thor is among many characters in the Marvel roster that has a rich story that intertwines in between two different worlds and in each there’s something affecting him. Thor’s mythological background made him an even more difficult character to bring to the big screen given Hollywood’s mostly horrible interpretation of mythology, but Shakespearean director Kenneth Branagh brought this piece to life in a very simple and effective manner.
Kenneth Branagh and his writers Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, and Don Payne created a film that was enjoyable and smart for a comic book film. Writers did a wonderful job creating a character that’s both charming and easy to root for by the end of the film. It wasn’t an easy task, but the writers cut down some of the comic book’s silly dialogue and turned it more simple. Even though there’s the dialogue is great, there’s a few lines that sound silly. The film ties perfectly into the plans of Marvel and The Avengers film, the story is kept simple with the main characters fighting his own inner quarrels. Thor’s journey to earn his way back Asgard is great as we see his inner struggle as searches for wisdom and a way to return home. Loki doesn’t truly reflect the evil from the comics instead he appears more like some two timing deviant.
Before they could put this piece together filmmakers had to find the right person to play Thor. Not an easy task, but Chris Hensworth was the chosen one and he did a fantastic job. Chris Hensworth really fits the character of Thor, he really brings this charm to the character not to mention Thor’s arrogance. Hensworth really does the trick. Tom Hiddleston and Natalie Portman were also good matches for their roles, I honestly feel that casting was spot on. I would have to say the film was very well put together, the set design was not bad and even when Asgard was nothing but CGI it looked amazing. The costume design was also very well done with incredible detail and taken directly from the comic, slightly altered, but retaining the essence of the comics.
Thor arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG4-AVC encode framed at 2.35:1. This is a film with two version that are at opposite sides of the spectrum in quality. One one hand you have the 2D version which looks excellent and on the other there’s some real problems with the 3D version. For starters let’s concentrate on the 2D version and we’ll get to the 3D later.
The 2D version features a pristine image which is expected from a digitally shot film. Colors are bright and vivid especially reds and yellows. Black colors appear to be very deep and inky. Dark scenes do not appear to overwhelm the image especially the scene in Jotunheim where in a few instances it’s hard to see what’s happening. Detailing is excellent throughout especially the character’s armor, the rugged small town of New Mexico, and even the close up shots are incredibly revealing. The CGI portion of the film doesn’t always look clear, but these instances are only a few and it shouldn’t distract the viewer from enjoying the film.
The 3D version of the film arrives with a 1080p MVC encode framed at 2.35:1. First and foremost I feel compelled to let you know that Thor was never filmed in 3D. The 3D aspect of the film was a post-production conversion and just like many of the recent films, Thor has suffered some serious quality. I know 3D is becoming a trend, but why sacrifice quality to gain a few more Dollars? I read about the issues and complaints during the theatrical run with the 3D presentation and was hoping they would at least try to revisit and attempt to fix some of the problems. But even with some fixes I doubt this version of the film would have been any better. The image really suffered a considerable amount of details. Scenes like that of Jotunheim (that was already dark in the 2D version to begin with) appears darker with missing detail. Thor 3D appears to suffer the same fate in different parts of the film where it’s either too dark to see details or there are other factor impacting the overall look of the film.
If any of the statements above aren’t enough, the film also has some issues with ghosting. You don’t have to have an eagle eye to spot it. Ghosting was a real issue that was sometimes annoying that left me wondering if they even watched the final piece at the studio. Even though there are some issues with this 3D version I have to say there are some scenes that demonstrate great detail and video quality. Although it’s hard to mention it all and fully try to convince anyone why the 3D version is best when you got problem dwelling in the picture. The 3D effects offer some dept in a few scenes and sometimes the models actually look like you can just touch them, but those are far less than I expected. I can tell you that the menu before you start the film is really cool, the 3D effect there is great as you are flying through space. If I have to grade the 3D video quality I would say it deserves a 2 out of 5 for effort. It’s not the worst Blu-ray 3D out there, but there’s definitely some work that needed to be done prior for consumers to begin buying.
Thor arrives on Blu-ray with a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless track. The dialogue is clean and clear throughout and it is never overwhelmed by the action on the screen. The surround are active creating a nice sound field. The fronts feature some good directionality. The LFE output is not as accurate as I’d had hoped. The track itself it’s extremely loud and it only gets louder as the action intensifies. I don’t particularly mind this as I enjoy loud tracks, but the accuracy of the track is a bit off. Overall, some may like it some may don’t but you can’t deny the thunderous power of the track.
Audio Commentary – Featuring Kennet Branagh. This is a good and solid audio track, the director is thorough providing all sorts of information. Very good track and highly recommended.
From Asgard to Earth – See how the filmmakers put together the two realms of Asgard and Earth. The filmmakers talk about all the challenges to create the designs and sets for the mythical city.
Our Fearless Leader – The actors talk about what their experience was to work with Kenneth Branagh during the filmming of the movie.
Assembling the Troupe – Filmmakers talk about the casting process for each of the main characters of the film.
Hammer Time – Filmmakers and actors talk about Mjolnir the mythical weapon of Thor.
Creating Laufey – Filmmakers discuss the process to create Laufey and the frost giants.
Music of the Gods – Viewers are invited to see a look behind the creation of the score for the film.
A Conversation – This features a brief conversation with Stan Lee.
Marvel-One-Shot: The Consultant – Features a quick piece about the Hulk. Similar to all those shorts at the end of every Marvel film from recent times.
Road to the Avengers – Joaa Whedon talks The Avengers. I am still not sold on Mark Ruffalo…
Thor was a great superhero action flick not the best out of the series of Marvel films, but I can tell you that it met and exceeded my expectations. We know where it is headed and for that I am glad Kennet Branagh along with his writing crew paved the way for more adventures to be created. The film was enjoyable, entertaining, smart, and witty from beginning to end. The Blu-ray was a complete contrast between the 2D and 3D version of the film, the 2D version of the film looks great and there’s really no issues. The 3D version of the film is problematic with some issues that are difficult to ignore. The audio is loud and enjoyable, it’s simply what we come to expect from a film such as this one. The supplements are filled with lots of goodies including a great audio commentary featuring Kenneth Branagh that’s definitely worth your time. With all this being said, I would suggest you acquire the 2D version at the very least unless you find the 3D version around the same price. Regardless of the version you choose, it’s a must own.