Reel Critics: Power of 'Thor' effects will strike audience

Kenneth Branagh comes from a Shakespearean background in acting. He is now the unlikely director of "Thor," a big-budget superhero movie. To his credit, he successfully blends his classical training with the more mundane demands of a comic book action flick.

It doesn't hurt that he has Oscar-winning actors Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman in the cast. But he also has the relatively unknown Australian hunk Chris Hemsworth playing the mighty Thor. He brings a welcome boyish charm and naïve innocence to his role as the Norse God of Thunder.

The palace intrigues and character flaws of the gods reflect the Shakespeare influence. The whiz-bang special effects are right out of the Marvel comics tradition. The predictable events in the formula plot will please action hungry fans. The target audience should end up exactly where the producer's want them to be: waiting for the sequel that's sure to come.


'Something Borrowed,' nothing new

Rachel likes Dex. Dex likes Rachel.

They grin stupidly at each other for years until Dex meets her BFF Darcy, the only one of the trio gutsy enough to just go for what she wants. Dex and Darcy are soon engaged.

Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Dex (Colin Egglesfield) remain friends without benefits until one crazy night when she confesses her feelings. Clearly, these two are meant for each other: They're both lawyers and about as passionate as Barbie and Ken (in their original packaging).

Only Kate Hudson's Darcy, with her brassy blonde beauty, lends any spark to this tepid and contrived rom-com. Rachel and Dex should be wracked by guilt and lust, but we're not feeling it. Endless close-ups cannot make up for a bland script.

John Krasinski ("The Office") has a thankless role as Rachel's friend in an attempt at comic relief. Again, the writing brings more groans than giggles.

"Something Borrowed" is nearly two hours of "what to do, what to do?"

We should care. But we don't.

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator.

SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa.

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