Thor

2011, Marvel Studios

I'll confess here and now that I thoroughly enjoy Thor, which can be attributed largely to Chris Hemsworth, who's possessed of an irresistible, earnest, indomitable charm. But much credit must also go to many of the other characters inhabiting the strangely delightful mythological universe conjured by Stan Lee, most notably Tom Hiddleston as Loki, and the legendary Anthony Hopkins as King Odin. Director Kenneth Branagh imbues all of the silly proceedings with such noble gravitas that it comes off as (unintentional?) high camp; I'm also perpetually amazed at how the actors—Hemsworth in particular—can spout utter nonsense with such conviction that it all totally works. Plus, the enormous, lavish sets create the perfect stage for such a broad spectacle. Bravo!

       

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CRAP

MEH

WOW

Thor: The Dark World

2013, Marvel Studios

Alan Taylor rendered a rather different take on Thor than Kenneth Branagh, although it still totally works; the lighter touch made the characters more human and approachable—in particular, Chris Hemsworth's charm is allowed to blossom. But, as so often happens in such franchises, the plot becomes more complex, the effects more dominant. All the same, it's still a great way to spend two hours.

       

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MEH

WOW

Thor: Ragnarok

2017, Marvel Studios

One look at the dazzling, colorful promotional artwork should illustrate the wondrous new direction Taika Waititi has taken the franchise. Although I've not yet seen Ragnarok, from what I've gleaned about it, I've little doubt it will peg my score meter at full-on WOW. I'm quite anxious for the DVD release!

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