'Thor': What the Critics Think

Paramount Pictures

Reviews for Thor are starting to appear and the word is ... it's pretty good.

First, the quick download: The movie is part of Marvel Studios' film series leading up to next summer's The Avengers, an all-star collection of superheroes and actors. It's also the first of two Marvel movies, the second one being Captain America. (Thor opens May 6, while Cap Am opens July 22.)

The quick no-spoiler plot: Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth) is banished to Earth by his father (Anthony Hopkins) for having anger issues and must learn humility, just in time to save the day.

The consensus among early reviewers is praise for Hemsworth and director Kenneth Branagh, while earning minus-points for the brevity of the Earth sequence and the action scene involving a metal-being called the Destroyer (seen in the commercials).

"The ultimate accessibility of Thor's fantastical world is due in no small measure to the good-humored direction of Kenneth Branagh, a man with a highbrow history who knows his way around an epic tale, and a star-making turn from Chris Hemsworth," writes The Hollywood Reporter.

Hitfix also praises Hemsworth: "(The actor), best known to audiences as Kirk's father in that powerful opening scene to Star Trek, is just as good a fit for the character of Thor as Robert Downey Jr. is for Tony Stark, and that one thing goes a long way to making the film a pleasure to watch."

Variety follows a similar playbook, noting Thor's smackdown with the Destroyer is all too brief and anticlimactic when stacked up against the spectacularly rendered rumbles in other dimensions. Though Thor's romance with Jane is passable, thanks largely to [Natalie] Portman's sterling work in a thinly written role, the couple isn't given enough alone time or meaningful dialogue to raise the relationship above the ordinary.

Says IGN: "The biggest problem with the earthly story line isn't its tone or setting, but rather the brevity of Thor's stay there. He's basically in town for the weekend and in that time he learns the error of his ways? ... Exile ain't what it used to be."

But these are quibbles that don't take away from the enjoyment of the movie, which is also drawing praise for the action. (Hitfix comments, "When superpowered beings fight in this film, there is a sense of power and force that we still haven't seen in many of these movies.")

And more importantly, if successful, it'll allow for different comic book characters than the usual capes to hit the screen.

"It kicks open the door to so many other characters," says Collider. "If audiences respond (which they should), over the next few years, look for many other larger than life characters on movie screens.