THOR (Kenneth Branagh)
THOR works for me mainly because: 1. it doesn't feel like a comic book; 2. the hero does not conceal his identity to other people, and; 3. the heroine does not get kidnapped by the villain. In short, Branagh's adaptation of Marvel's THOR is a comic book film that is anti-comic book.
Most comic book film adaptations have a template that is used and reused- the protagonist gets a supernatural power, the love interest gets kidnapped, and the villain is usually the hero's friend. No disrespect to the Spiderman trilogy which was pretty enjoyable, but THOR for me ranks along THE DARK KNIGHT and IRON MAN. THOR is funny where it counts ("We have Xena, Jackie Chan, and Robin Hood"), and the action is not gratuitously excessive (hello, TRANSFORMERS 3!). Kenneth Branagh creates a comic book movie identity on his own by focusing on character development and an easy to follow plot.
The movie heavily emphasizes the sibling rivalry between Thor and Loki and takes it as a central plot; Chris Hemsworth is tailor fit as Thor; he is tall, muscular, and he manifested pretty well Thor's arrogance and ego and eventual reformation.
Natalie Portman as his leading lady Jane could have been just another cardboard character, but Portman glimmers with enough enthusiasm and curiosity that she becomes more than a leading lady, into an integral character altogether.
Anthony Hopkins as usual provides an element of authenticity to the character of Odin, and he has that characteristic where we actually believe everything that he says. The price of being a veteran thespian.
I just wished there was more screen time for Rene Russo as Thor's mother. THOR is a highly patriarchal movie, but Branagh could have also highlighted the role of women in Asgard, and in society in general, since he already explored the issue in passing via Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander).
Another plus is the presence of Jeremy Renner, who will be returning in 2012 for THE AVENGERS. I almost did not recognize him.