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'Thor': A Fratty Hero, With Plenty Of Norsepower

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'Thor': A Fratty Hero, With Plenty Of Norsepower


'Thor': A Fratty Hero, With Plenty Of Norsepower

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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And as Rob mentioned, Marvel's Norse god Thor is the latest comic book hero to muscle his way into theaters and the first in a summer that promises a new pair of tights every few weeks.

"Thor" has already opened overseas and earned more than $100 million. Given the loyalty of his fans here in the States, a review may be beside the point, but Bob Mondello has one anyway.

BOB MONDELLO: It's origin-story time again at the multiplex: Superhero falls from sky and gets adopted by earthlings, in this case after they nearly run him over in the desert.

(Soundbite of film, "Thor")

Ms. NATALIE PORTMAN (Actor): (As Jane Foster) Do me a favor, don't be dead.

MONDELLO: That's astrophysicist Natalie Portman.

(Soundbite of film, "Thor")

Ms. KAT DENNINGS (Actor): (As Darcy Lewis) Whoa, he needs CPR because I totally know CPR.

MONDELLO: And her assistant Kat Dennings. And that's Chris Hemsworth as Thor, he of the type-A personality.

(Soundbite of film, "Thor")

Ms. DENNINGS: (As Darcy) Are you all right?

Mr. CHRIS HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) Hammer. Hammer?

Ms. DENNINGS: (As Darcy) Yeah, we can tell you're hammered, pretty obvious.

Mr. HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) What realm is this? (Unintelligible)?

Ms. DENNINGS: (As Darcy) New Mexico.

Mr. HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) You dare threaten me, Thor, with so puny a weapon?

MONDELLO: It was a Taser.

(Soundbite of film, "Thor")

Ms. DENNINGS: (As Darcy) What? He was freaking me out.

MONDELLO: They take Thor to the hospital while the film heads for Asgard, from whence he fell.

There, we meet Thor's trickster brother Loki and his seriously annoyed dad, Odin, played respectively by Tom Hiddleston and Anthony Hopkins, both of whom are trained classical actors. So is the movie's director Kenneth Branagh, who's conjuring thunderbolts straight out of "King Lear."

(Soundbite of film, "Thor")

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. ANTHONY HOPKINS (Actor): (As Odin) (Unintelligible) of your king. You've woken these peaceful realms and innocent lives to the horror and desolation of war.

MONDELLO: With Hopkins, Hiddleston and Hemsworth, hurricanes hardly happen. Sorry, that's a "My Fair Lady" reference. But in my defense, this is sort of a "Pygmalion" story: a Thor loser learning humility when he's not throwing hammers.

Anyway, on Asgard, hurricanes frequently happen, if by hurricanes you mean windy dialog.

Mr. HOPKINS: (As Odin) I now take from you your power, in the name of my father and his father before. I, Odin of (unintelligible) cast you out.

MONDELLO: Odin also casts out Thor's hammer, which lodges in a stone, Excalibur-style, and can only be pulled out by someone who's earned the right to be king.

The comic's originator, Stan Lee, has a quick cameo trying to extricate it, as do some governmental men in black aided by Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye in another blink-you'll-miss-it cameo, this one designed to set up next summer's Marvel movie "The Avengers."

But the dude with the blond mane and bulging biceps clearly owns that hammer. And when the screenplay gives him something besides arrogance to work with, he owns the movie too.

(Soundbite of film, "Thor")

Unidentified Woman #1 (Actor): (As character) You know, for a crazy homeless person, he's pretty cut.

MONDELLO: A frat-boy god-out-of-water, amusingly clueless about when throwing his weight around is manly and appealing and when it just makes him a jerk: in a diner, say, smashing coffee cups.

(Soundbite of film, "Thor")

Mr. HEMSWORTH: This drink, I like it. Another.

Unidentified Woman #2 (Actor): (As character) This is going on Facebook. Smile.

MONDELLO: In the Marvel Comics firmament, Thor qualifies a second-tier superhero, and despite having a classy director, his film's kind of second-tier, too.

But it does have that slab of beefcake with a blazing smile at its center. Hemsworth looks and acts like a comic-book superhero come to life, no 3-D or special effects required.

I'm Bob Mondello.

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