That annoyance aside, I did go into the theater expecting to love this film, and it far exceeded my expectations. The beginning's a bit awkward--starting with Thor's arrival on Earth, then abruptly backtracking to how he got there and replaying the opening scene, but from there on, the pacing is excellent.
A prince in his own realm, heir to the throne of Asgard, Thor is a young man in desperate need of some anger management counseling. This prince's temper is measured on the Richter scale. When his coronation is interrupted by the intrusion of beings from another realm, Thor seeks revenge--and re-ignites an ancient war. This leads his angry and disappointed father, Odin, to banish him to Midgard--Earth--to teach him a lesson in humility. Thor must live as a mortal man until he can prove himself worthy. Then, and only then, will his magic hammer, Mjolnir, be returned to him, along with his power and his immortality.
Mjolnir has also been sent to Earth--trapped in a Sword in the Stone-type scenario in the New Mexico desert. (Look for Thor's creator, Stan Lee, in his obligatory cameo as one of a crowd of rednecks trying to withdraw the mystical hammer from the stone. Good thing Stan can afford to buy a new truck!)
The fish-out-of-water aspect of the story is humorous without being over the top. In Thor's first twenty-four hours on Earth, he's hit by a car twice (three times if you count the replay of the opening scene), had a hypodermic full of tranquilizers shot into his butt, gone drinking with Jane Foster's mentor, Erik Selvig (and had to carry him home when he passed out), and takes on a platoon of S.H.I.E.L.D. guards surrounding Mjolnir.
It was those moments of humor I enjoyed most--and that price-of-admission scene of a shirtless Thor (when the film comes out on DVD, that scene's going to get a lot of replay action). Chris Hemsworth portrays Thor with the regal bearing of a prince, the ferocity of a warrior, and the good humor of a regular guy. The budding romance between Thor and Jane (Natalie Portman), however, didn't get enough screen time to convince the audience it was true love. Note to screenwriters: SHOW, DON'T TELL! The audience needs to believe Thor has made enough of an emotional bond with Jane and others here on Earth to overcome centuries of arrogance on his part.
As Thor comes to terms with his exile, trouble is brewing in Asgard. Odin has fallen into a coma and Thor's younger brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), is taking over the kingdom. Thor's loyal friends, the Lady Sif and the Warriors Three, defy royal decree and head for Earth to find him and bring him home. In a confrontation with a gigantic destroyer from their realm, the five of them join forces to defeat the enemy. And when Thor makes the decision to sacrifice himself, caring more for Jane and the others than for himself, his powers and his immortality are restored.
The dialogue is sharp and witty. In one scene, future Avenger Hawkeye observes Thor's battles with S.H.I.E.L.D. security and asks Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) if he should take him out "or are you going to send out more guys for him to beat up?"
When Thor's Asgardian buddies walk down the town's main street in search of their friend, a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative reports to Coulson, "We have Xena, Robin Hood...."
And then there's the scene in which Thor goes to a pet shop to get a horse. When he's told they only sell dogs, cats and birds, he says, "Give me one big enough to ride."
There are also not-so-subtle nods to other Marvel superheroes. When the Asgardian destroyer arrives on Earth, Agent Coulson is asked, "Is that one of Stark's?" To which Coulson responds, "That man never tells me anything." In another scene, a reference is made to a scientist working on the effects of gamma radiation (that would be Dr. Bruce Banner, The Incredible Hulk).
I won't give away the ending, difficult as it is to resist, but it's both spectacular and bittersweet. If you want a movie that's fast-paced, exciting, fun and even romantic, look no further. This is it!