Directors of 2011: 2 - Kenneth Branagh

FemaleFirst, 2 January 201
By Helen Earnshaw

Kenneth Branagh returned to the director’s chair this year as he tackled the big budget blockbuster for the very first time as he helmed "Thor".

Yes Branagh stepped into the Marvel universe as "Thor" was brought to the big screen for the very first time in what was his first directorial outing since Sleuth back in 2007.

While there was plenty of experience on the cast list in the form of Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman, Branagh chose to cast a virtual unknown, Chris Hemsworth, in the title role.

Despite Branagh having never directed a big budget blockbuster movie before you would never know it as this is one of the finest Marvel movies to grace the big screen in recent years.

"Thor" is a fast paced movie that delivers action, comedy as well as a very human and often touching tale - not to mention that Asgard looks absolutely stunning.

And Branagh's lack of experience in this genre of film actually works in "Thor"'s favour as he never loses sight of the characters and the story - a movie that could so easily get carried away with special effects, gimmicks and action set pieces never strays from telling the tale.

"Thor" is perhaps the trickiest characters of "The Avengers" line up to bring to the big screen but Branagh has grounded the story in reality and nothing ever seems too fantastical or over the top. But at the heart of this big budget blockbuster is a story about a young man who learns humility, the importance of family and finds love for the very first time - these lessons never being lost.

The film was one of the most successful of the year as it grossed in excess of $448.5 million at the global box office. And with that sort of success it doesn’t come as a surprise that a sequel is in the pipeline - sadly Branagh will not be back in the director’s chair, which is a real shame.

Branagh returned to the day job last month when he took on the role of Laurence Olivier in "My Week With Marilyn". The movie followed the relationship between Oliver and Marilyn Monroe during the filming of "The Prince and the Showgirl", a movie that Olivier starred in and directed.

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