I just saw this (on DVD) and felt the need to express my opinions.
As usual, I’ll give the synopsis first, then my opinions. Warning, this is a near-complete description so if you don’t want to be spoiled DON’T read it.
In this movie, the Norse gods are actually superhuman beings from a world called Asgard, it’s just that ancient people on Earth thought they were deities. After an introductory sequence, the story properly begins with the ceremony where Thor was going to be crowned by his father King Odin. This is however interrupted by their enemies, the Jotun aka Frost Giants, who snuck in trying to steal a magical object (which was taken from them by the Asgardians in battle.) They are discovered by its magical guardian, the robot-like Destroyer, who, well, destroys them.
This causes a big fuss because there was supposed to be a peace treaty with the Jotun- also how the giants got in is a worrying mystery, since the only known way to Asgard is through “Bifrost the Rainbow Bridge”- which in this movie is actually an artificially-produced wormhole- which is guarded by the god Heimdall, who can literally see anything. Thor wants to strike back but Odin refuses until the matter is investigated, he doesn’t want to restart the war with the Jotuns. Thor however decides to go investigate on his own (possibly convinced by a little reverse psychology from his brother Loki; it isn’t clear) and his friends the Warriors Three (Volstagg the Voluminous, Fandral the Dashing and Hogun the Grim) plus the warrior Lady Sif (and Loki) decide to go with him.
Unfortunately the only thing they achieve in the Jotun’s world (besides several cool action scenes) is getting the war restarted. Odin is so P.O.'d he turns Thor into a mortal and banishes him to Midgard (Earth) apparently to teach him to be humble. He does also send in Thor’s hammer, which can bestow the power the Thor to whomever is worthy of lifting it.
Thor lands near the town of Old Bridge, in the New Mexico desert, and promptly gets hit by a van, driven by the young Doctor Jane Foster, who was there researching strange phenomena. Feeling responsible for him, she decides to help take care of him (despite, you know, him being a total stranger who rambled about being a god.)
The hammer itself crashes several kilometers away. People start trying to pick it up but fail. (Pay attention: you can see Thor co-creator Stan Lee in one his movie cameos in this scene.) Then SHIELD, the secret agency from the Iron Man movies shows up, cordons off the area and turns it into a makeshift lab to study the hammer.
Meanwhile, in Asgard, Loki confronts his father with a fact he discovered in Jotunheim: he’s a frost giant too! Odin explains that he was a forsaken baby so he adopted him, but Loki is still mad at him for not telling him the truth and accuses him of just using him as a bargaining tool. Odin collapses during the argument (this is because he periodically needs the “Odin Sleep” to regain his powers.) In his stead (with Thor gone) Loki becomes King of Asgard. He orders Heimdall not to open the Bridge again.
On Earth, with Jane’s help Thor manages to sneak his way into the makeship lab and gets a hold of the hammer… and fails to lift it. He’s so shocked by this fact that he lets himself be arrested by SHIELD. He’s visited by a (disguised) Loki who tells him Odin is dead (a lie) convincing him not to try to return to Asgard.
The Warriors Three (and Sif) decide to go to Earth and find Thor. Fortunately for them Heimdall is on their side and “accidentally” leaves the bridge open for them. Loki soon finds out however, and after freezing Heimdall, sends the Destroyer to stop them. He also invites the King of the Jotuns to kill the helpless Odin (it was Loki who let them into Asgard in the first place, through some secret passageway.)
Thor is released by SHIELD after a friend of Jane’s tells them he’s just a crazy relative. Thor then begins to bond with Jane and her human friends. The Warriors Three soon find him but so does The Destroyer, who starts tearing the town apart to get to them. Unable to stop the machine, Thor accepts to let it to kill him to spare the others.
…And after a brief “don’t die, Thor!” scene, of course, having proven himself worthy of his powers by this sacrifice, the Hammer returns to him and he’s a “god” again, completely healed btw. He destroys the Destroyer, and then return to Asgard thanks to a (conveniently unfrozen) Heimdall.
Surprisingly Loki kills the Jotun king (who btw was his real father) and saves Odin’s Life. But Thor arrives and exposes his treachery. Then Loki tries to use Bifrost to destroy Jotunheim (which he claims was his true goal all along, to prove himself worthy) but Thor destroys the bridge rather than allow the genocide. Odin arrives in time to see Loki fall down into the “abyss” below Asgard.
The movie ends with Thor longing to be reunited with Jane, Jane working to try to find a way to do that, and Loki on Earth, investigating the Cosmic Cube (from the Captain America movie) in SHIELD’s possession.
My Opinions: Despite being a comics fan (including of Thor at one point) I wasn’t expecting much from this movie. The Fish-out-of-Water plot sounded lame, though I had no doubt there would be lots of action and SFX. And it was exactly how I expected… except that the acting was better than I thought. Even if I couldn’t really believe Thor and Jane would fall for each other so easily, the chemistry between them was great. And so was the Thor/Odin/Loki relationship. In particular, I was surprised they didn’t show Loki as outright evil… even the revelation that it was he who allowed the Jotuns in to Asgard in the first place isn’t that bad- he just wanted to ruin his briother’s coronation, not start a war. It’s only when he finds the truth about himself that his world shatters and he starts lying and attacking directly. (note than in the comics Loki knew he wasn’t a true Asgardian all along. )
A lot of stuff was changed from the comics. In particular, Jane and Thor broke up a long time ago (he’s with Sif now.) She was also a nurse. But I admit this is more interesting.
The Destroyer got severely nerfed (its indestructible) AND it cannot act by itself, it needs a soul to operate it. I can see the changes were needed for it to play the role it does in the movie, but they could’ve used something else. Oh well.
Also, Thor (and Odin, and Loki) can all travel to Earth on their own. But using Bifrost as the only (known) gate was an interesting twist because it expanded Heimdall’s role from the comics, giving him several cool scenes (and no, I don’t care that they cast a black actor in his part.) He was another interesting surprise. Turning Bifrost into a weapon may have been too much however.
The scenes in Jotunheim seemed a bit too long. And what the heck was that monster? It was cool, but I can’t remember if its based on anything from myth or the comics. (I guess they wanted something cooler than just endless waves of Jotun for Thor to fight). Anyone know?
Also, other than the fact they wanted to set the film in America, why did Bifrost lead to New Mexico instead of Northern Europe?
I call BS on Asgardian magic being a form of superscience. Since it worked exactly like magic, why bother with that anyway? Wormhole by butt.
My single biggest nit to pick would be all the coincidences in the movie. Jane running over Thor (twice!), Odin falling into the Odinsleep just as Loki found out the truth,Thor’s friends finding him so quickly, Heimdall unfreezing in time to help Thor return in time to expose Loki JUST as he pulled his “I saved Odin’s life!” trick. And of course having to destroy Bifrost so Thor and Jane wouldn’t end up together (yet.) YES, I know it’s movie based on a comic based on mythology- I don’t resent these things so much as think “they could have done that more logically”. And there were just too many of them. But that may be just me.
Overall, THOR is exactly what it set out to be- a big SFX summer movie that introduces the Marvel Movie Universe’s version of the character to be used in next year’s THE AVENGERS. Which I’m starting to fear won’t live up to all the hype, it’s got a lot of things set up for it over the years to deal with… but given that both this movie and Captain America’s were better than I expected, I’m still have hope.