This attempt at turning Thor, the most popular Norse God and a long-dormant Marvel property, into a 3-D Era hero seemed destined for glory — he has a 12-pack and a blustery accent and a cape and he smashes the crap out of things with a magical flying hammer, how could this not work?! Turns out Kenneth Branagh has figured out how to whiff on this lazy pitch down the middle by constantly supplanting what the God of Thunder does best (kick mythic ass) with what he does worst (talk ... and "understand").
Thor, played with plenty of cocky energy by Aussie Chris Hemsworth, is booted from shiny Asgard by his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), landing on Earth and into the lap of timid, fond-of-flannel astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Stripped of his powers and forced to coerce with humanity due to his hothead streak, he doesn't "get" the customs of puny humans right away — haha, he just smashed a coffee mug at a diner instead of simply asking for a refill, oh Thor! But then, by some universe-slicing stroke of Valhalla, he becomes utterly comfortable in his mortal skin, getting all philosophical with Jane and cooking scrambled eggs (?!) for her wiseacre intern (Kat Dennings) and befuddled Scandinavian mentor (Stellan Skarsgard, obviously).
You'd think Thor's one area of immutable appeal — flattening people and objects with his hammer while yelling "Ha-HA!" — would be Branagh's primary focus here, but heavy action is outweighed by boring politricks (ooh Loki, you're so cunning!), thickheaded, Angels & Demons-caliber faith-vs.-science debates, drawn-out S.H.I.E.L.D. scenes (egregious setup for The Avengers) and a bunch of administrative nonsense about a rainbow bridge operated by Idris Elba. Lacking the crowd-pleasing structure and charisma of the Iron Man or X-Men movies, Thor fails because it knows what its audience wants and still doesn't deliver it.