By Mark Greek 

Before we judge Thor as a standalone piece of work, we must admire the glorious mosaic that awaits us right before Armageddon in 2012. I’m not talking about a remake of the Ben Affleck/hurtling meteor flick; I’m talking about The Avengers, due out seven months before the Mayan calendar ends, so we should have plenty of time to enjoy it.

Understanding that Thor is meant to be the foundation for something larger, we can excuse things like corny dialogue, and a less-than-Oscar-worthy performance from Natalie Portman. That is not to say it is not a great film; actually it’s quite competent as a standalone origin story for one of Marvel’s greatest heroes. Unfortunately, we know that bigger and better things are on the horizon, so if Thor must be looked upon as a necessary stepping stone, at least it’s a shiny one.

Chris Hemsworth, previously seen for four minutes as Captain James T. Kirk’s father in 09’s stellar Star Trek, is cast perfectly as the Norse god of thunder. Thor is portrayed as a vain, muscle-bound, arrogant muttonhead and heir to the throne of Asgard, exactly as he was in the original comic book. The Odinson leads a band of friends on an unsuccessful and unauthorized mission into Jötunheim, land of the Frost Giants, and proceeds to kick some serious ice.

His other friends, though warriors, are not so lucky, and his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) comes to their aid. The allfather banishes Thor to Earth to find his hammer and humility. He meets the inexcusably attractive astrophysicist Jane (Portman), her annoying friend Darcy (Kat Dennings of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist fame) and Erik the obligatory Norwegian mythology expert (Stellan Skarsgård).

Successfully portraying mythology as a realistic alternative to our own dimension is not a new concept. Stan Lee and the rest of the geniuses at Marvel have been doing it for ages. And in many instances, combining them to create awesome situations where Thor can team up with Hercules. Taking these concepts and putting them on film could have been difficult, but director Kenneth Branagh handled it very well. The special effects were well done and believable, which was very important considering the outlandish subject matter.

Comic fans and Thor enthusiasts will either love or hate the adaptation, even if they’re just biding their time till The Avengers. Casual viewers will appreciate the action, if not the story. Fans of attractiveness will enjoy Hemsworth and Portman accordingly, no one will appreciate Kat Dennings and many will be counting the days until the release of Captain America this July.