Thor 

I’m thinking it were either the unnecessary 3D, the half-hour its 114-minute running time didn’t need, or a combination of the two. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, I enjoyed it more than expected, holding no love for the Marvel Comics character.

Chris Hemsworth (“Star Trek”) is Thor, god of thunder: arrogant, reckless and cut like a paper snowflake. The heir apparent to the ancient kingdom of Asgard, his brash nature gets him banished to this place called Earth, crash-beamed to modern-day New Mexico. His powerful hammer follows him, only to get stuck in a desert crater, à la “The Sword in the Stone.”

An underwritten, unconvincing romance with an astrophysicist (Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”) plays out as Thor is sought out by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and toyed with by his jealous brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston, TV’s “Wallander”).

More muscle than Method, Hemsworth has little charisma, which is why “Thor,” opening Friday, feels like the weakest link in the superhero chain that will lead to next summer’s all-star wet dream of “The Avengers.” This lead-in lacks the sheer giddiness of “Iron Man” and the emotional heft of “The Incredible Hulk.” But it does have cameos from two of his future fellow Avengers.

Actor Kenneth Branaugh (“Valkyrie”) is an odd choice for director, more attuned to Shakespeare adaptations, until one witnesses how much the Asgard sequences play like bad Shakespeare — a silliness he certainly didn’t intend. The New Mexico portions are different. Its fish-out-of-water elements are welcome, granting a light, comedic touch to a character who, in his four-color source materials, is nothing but stone-cold sober.

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Rod Lott

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