Thor (Kenneth Branagh, 2011)

What's it about? Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the hammer-wielding Norse God of Thunder, is banished by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) from his homeworld of Asgard to Earth, where he stomps about looking for his hammer and catches the eye of astrophysicist Jane (Natalie Portman). Meanwhile, back in Asgard, his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has his eye on the throne and is up to no good.

Is it any good? Asgard is my witness, it's not too bad. Where many comic-book adaptations aspire to be about wider themes and issues, Thor is happy to be simply a story about a man hitting things with a big hammer. And it does that reasonably well, with everyone involved seeming to realise that it is all a bit silly and opting to play it with tongue-in-cheek and with a nice comic touch throughout as it gets good mileage from the fish-out-of-water scenario. Newcomer Hemsworth makes an appealing lead (his gratuitous topless scene will no doubt win him legions of female fans) and Branagh keeps the whole thing moving briskly along so we don't have time to dwell on the messy plot, which involves Frost Giants, otherworldly realms and some guff about astrophysics. It reminds me of one of those talent show acts that is neither serious enough nor good enough to be particularly memorable, but has enough charm about it to make you warm to it, at least until something more substantial comes along. Unforgivably though, it doesn't feature the Trini Lopez version of 'If I Had a Hammer'.

I don't trust you. What do others think? Despite some misgivings about plot and lack of invention, it won most punters and critics over and delivered another box office hit for the Marvel Studios following the Iron Man films (watch out for a pretty funny Marvel in-joke about Tony Stark), being successful enough to guarantee an inevitable sequel. Before that, though, Thor and Loki will both turn up again alongside Iron Man, Captain America and The Hulk in Marvel's flagship 2012 super-hero film The Avengers.

Anything else I should know? Hemsworth didn't just get that physique overnight, you know. Here he talks about the punishing fitness regime involved. Poor fella.

What does the Fonz think? Fonzie's away on holiday this week, so our special guest summariser is MC Hammer.
What does MC Hammer think? Stop! Hammer Time.

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