Kenneth Branagh shifts from Shakespeare to comic books in “Thor,” his whiz-bang 3-D adventure film about the hammer-wielding Marvel superhero loosely based on the Norse god.
The movie is an entertaining blend of action, humor and computer effects. It’s also considerably more intelligent than most other big-screen versions of Marvel characters, with the notable exception of the original “Iron Man.”
Australian Chris Hemsworth has the bodybuilder physique and bad-boy charm needed to play Thor, a vain warrior from the mystical realm of Asgard who is banished to Earth by his father, King Odin (Anthony Hopkins), after recklessly igniting an interplanetary war.
Natalie Portman, who seems to be in every other film this year following her Oscar for “Black Swan,” portrays one of the scientists who find Thor after he crashes in the New Mexico desert. After a bumpy start -- twice, she accidentally hits him with her SUV -- they join forces as Thor battles the Destroyer, a giant metallic robot controlled by the hero's villainous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston).
Meanwhile, Thor desperately seeks to reclaim his mighty hammer, which is imbedded in a rock under the heavy guard of a secret government agency that’s trying to figure out what the mysterious object is.
The confrontation climaxes with a “High Noon” showdown between bearded Thor, who’s built like a steroid-pumped professional wrestler, and the Destroyer, who looks like a skyscraper in an armored suit.
“Thor,” from Paramount Pictures, is playing across the U.S. Rating: ***
The title of “Something Borrowed” sums up its major drawback: There’s not a shred of originality in this somnolent romantic comedy about a lovelorn 30-year-old attorney who has an affair with her best friend’s fiance.
It borrows heavily from films with similar plots (recent example: “The Dilemma”) without finding new or interesting ways to explore the themes of betrayal and romantic yearning.
“Something Borrowed” stars Ginnifer Goodwin as Rachel, the usually goody two-shoes lawyer who has a fling with her hunky former law-school classmate Dex (Colin Egglesfield) even though he’s engaged to her lifelong pal Darcy (Kate Hudson).
Based on Emily Giffin’s chick-lit novel, the story plays out in the comfy Manhattan neighborhoods where the characters live and work and the ritzy Hamptons, where they chill and party with friends including earnest Ethan (John Krasinski) and rowdy Marcus (Steve Howey).
Screenwriter Jennie Snyder Urman and director Luke Greenfield try, with little success, to milk laughs out of the yin-yang contrasts between Darcy and Rachel. (Darcy is a not- too-bright party girl who lives in the moment, while Rachel is whip-smart and overly cautious.)
Hudson is too cutesy and Goodwin (who played the youngest wife of a polygamist on HBO’s “Big Love”) too phlegmatic. Egglesfield, a former fashion model, does a good impression of a mannequin.
“Something Borrowed,” from Warner Bros. Pictures, is playing across the U.S. Rating: *1/2
What the Stars Mean: **** Excellent *** Good ** Average * Poor (No stars) Worthless
(Rick Warner is the movie critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)
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