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By Michael Calleri

Sir Anthony Hopkins plays Thor's infuriated father in the new adventure based on the Marvel comic book. Hopkins has such a great time chewing the scenery that you wish the movie had been called "Thor's Really Angry Dad."

Although "Thor" is harmless fun and, I should add, relatively forgettable (unless you're a pre-teen, for whom this material is nirvana), it doesn't exactly have much going for it in the realm of acting chops.

Yes, Natalie Portman is in it as a scientist, and she's OK, but she's back to her usual wide-eyed fawn-in-the-headlights stare.

Thor is played by Chris Hemsworth, yet another Australian who trained at the Royal Academy Of Tight Abs and Beefy Pecs. I don't know what Hemsworth does after this stint, but he certainly won't lack for getting dates. Whoever is plucking these buff gentlemen from Down Under and bringing them to Hollywood is doing yeoman's work, and probably earning a pretty penny as well.

The movie looks terrific, especially the scenes on Asgard, where Thor and his father, Odin himself, have a raging falling-out. Odin is so mad at his son that he casts him through a wormhole into the New Mexico high desert.

So we go from an incredible-looking fantasy world to a dull and drab, brown dirt and dried scrub netherland where Thor speaks stilted English and a team of astrophysicists, including Portman, are fascinated by this massive male creature from who the heck knows where.

Meanwhile, on Asgard, the Frozen Giants are popsicle plunderers and Thor's brother Loki wants dad to like him better.

"Thor" is directed by no less than the Shakespearean scholar and acting genius Kenneth Branagh. This is the 12th feature he's helmed, including some of the Bard's works, but it's Branagh's vastly underrated 1994 "Frankenstein" that has an energy that is most comparable to "Thor." In that one, Branagh plays the good doctor and Robert De Niro is The Creature. If you've never seen it, find it.

The director has a real eye for visual excitement, and "Thor" genuinely dazzles on occasion, thanks to Branagh and his talented team, including cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos and production designer Bo Welch.

Thor must cope with being on Earth, outfox government officials eager to examine him (Clark Gregg is a key operative), and eventually find his way back to Asgard. He also has to retrieve his mighty hammer, without which Thor isn't as strong as he should be, bulging biceps and flowing golden locks notwithstanding. The guy is thirsting to unleash his power.

The film's dialogue isn't anything to write home about and is generated by a team of five people, and who knows how many others.

However, for what it is, the movie is entertaining and comes with a PG-13 rating for the usual noisy chases and violent swordplay. Skip the post-production 3-D version.

Also PG-13, but not for children, is "Something Borrowed," a romantic comedy so dull that it's really not much of a winner for adults either.

The picture is based on a novel by Emily Griffin and directed by a non-entity named Luke Greenfield, who doesn't bring much of a personal style to his movie. Jennie Snyder wrote the crammed screenplay, which is wildly overloaded, as if she tried to jam everything that happens in the book into the film.

What you've got is a group of well-to-do adults, early-30s types, some of them go-getting lawyers (although no one seems to do any work), who live in fabulous New York City apartments and party in the Hamptons.

Darcy is a dim-witted social animal, who is drunk most of the time and is engaged to marry Dexter Thaler Jr., a comfortably well-off preppie with a spoon-fed pedigree.

Dexter went to law school with Rachel. The two are still friends, but in school they never got together sexually, which is blatantly absurd considering how close they were and how adorably cute each of them is. In a truthful story, there would have been some major bone-jumping going on.

Ethan is the levelheaded writer, who probably should have been everyone's gay best friend, but he only pretends to be gay in order to avoid the clutches of the relentlessly clingy Claire, another Manhattan-Hamptons denizen.

Then there's Marcus, who is a skirt-chasing lummox with a muscular build and even more muscles between his ears. He has a line of patter that virtually guarantees he will bed every shallow woman who crosses his path. I'm still not sure what he did for a living.

Regardless, everyone has money and time, and soon enough a pocketful of problems. The biggest problem is that Dex and Rachel will have sex together before his wedding because they probably really do love each other, although he's so pretty and bland he probably could marry himself and not have to worry about having anyone with whom to converse.

This sets up Act Three, in which Darcy has to deal with her feelings for Marcus, and Ethan has to deal with his unrequited love for Rachel and his being the fifth wheel most of the time.

The above description tells you exactly what's wrong with the movie -- too much plot, and poorly handled at that. This, coupled with the fact that director Greenfield has limited talent and only one of the cast members brings a discernible personality to the proceedings, means there are long stretches of unexplored ennui. Don't get me wrong, I like ennui -- it's my favorite word -- but only Italian movie master Michelangelo Antonioni knew what to do with it. Greenfield is no Antonioni.

Rachel is played by Ginnifer Goodwin, who is perky, but so is Katie Couric, and we all know how she ruined the CBS Evening News. Colin Egglesfield is Dexter, and he's a talking mannequin. John Krasinski, as the mellow Ethan, has talent and tries to amp up the comedy, but he's under-directed, just as a manic Steve Howey as Marcus is over-directed. Kate Hudson, as Darcy, is so shrill and hard-edged that she whittles away at any romance with which moviegoers might identify. Darcy is set up to possibly fail, and that cheats both the film and the audience.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com May 10, 2011