Friday, November 8, 2013
The Homeless Nerd Reviews: Thor: The Dark World
At a glance- superhero action [this Thor is more superhero than god], otherworldly special effects, some good comedic moments
What is it? Thor and Captain America were two Marvel heroes who I did not think would do well on the big screen (and have not in the past). Thankfully, I was wrong and both turned into excellent movies. Now, we need to see if Marvel can bring the magic again in the sequels to both characters. We'll have to wait until next April for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but Thor: The Dark World opened today (or, well, really last night). Once again we have the Nordic deity-turned-superhero ("There's no difference between us and humans... Except 5,000 years or so" as Thor and Loki banter in the movie) with his long-distance romance of an Earth woman, and of course evil threats from beyond time and space. One of the things I like about Thor is how it is the vast series in the Marvel universe, it takes place across different planets and the furthest reaches of the galaxy. That is a good epic backdrop for the scope that comic books have always had, but comic movies have lacked. And heck, the special effects do look great. This is where I'd usually comment on differences between the comics and the movies, but Thor was never really a favorite character of mine, so I honestly don't know his comic history very well.
The acting- We have a lot of actors reprising their roles. Chris Hemsworth is Thor, and does a great job of not just the look, but the almost Hamlet-like brooding and semi-archaic speaking. I think he has been great in the role. Also great is Tom Hiddleston as Loki, back again to wreak havoc and illusion. He has also managed to hit just the right note of multiple-personality disorder for the deity of chaos. Natalie Portman is Dr. Jane Foster, and while she has a bit of the 'damsel in distress' in this movie, she also does a decent job of being the 'save the day scientist.' She is watchable, but I really wish her character was defined a bit better than 'scientist love interest,' which is the fault of the writers, not her acting. Anthony Hopkins is Odin, and Rene Russo his wife Frigga. I do like that she has a cool scene in the film, though also a sad one. Stealing the show to me are Idris Elba as Himedall, who may not have much screen time but manages to look awesome during every second of it. And Stellan Skarsgård as Dr. Selvig, not quite right in the head from his last run-in with Loki in The Avengers, also makes his limited time seem like more than it is. New to the movie is Christopher Eccleston as our main bad guy (bad elf?), Malekith. He is okay, the role is a slightly over-the-top villain, but not particularly memorable (again though, more the fault of writing than acting).
The story- There's a short into explaining that before there was light in the universe there were the Dark Elves (who must have stumbled around a lot) and they had an evil super-weapon the Aether. They tried to destroy the galaxy of light to make it dark again (why didn't they prevent it in the first place, don't know) but were stopped by the Asgarians (Odin's father in particular). But of course the evil super-weapon couldn't be destroyed (they never can) so it was hidden where no one would ever find it again (which is about 20 minutes into the movie). Cut to the present where our love interest Dr. Foster is trying to go on a date and forget about Thor, who apparently never calls and never writes. While she is investigating The Convergence, a time when all 9 planets/ galaxies/ somethings line up (which is always a bad time, never like a time of great happiness or merriment or anything) Thor is off policing the realms with his trusty sidekicks. She stumbles across the evil super-weapon, he takes her home to meet mother in Asgard, and the evil bad guys wreak havoc, forcing Thor and Loki to team up, and ending with the final battle in London (nice to go across the pond since Avengers was in New York, still waiting to go to Canada for Alpha Flight though).
There is a lot of special effects, and they look great, of course (a small city's worth of animators will do that). The music was also nice, I thought it complimented the movie well (go London Philharmonic Orchestra). There is plenty of banter and some good one-liners, to break up the action. Not too many slow spots, it seems to move at a decent pace - for being almost 2 hours it didn't really feel like it. My only complaints would be that the evil Dark Elves don't really look that evil, they look like deranged Kabuki theater performers. And if the Asgardians have high tech like guns, why the heck do they attack everything with a sword and shield? That's just stupid. The mix of techno-fantasy doesn't always feel quite right, it might have been better had they picked one or the other. Still, for a few flaws it works well and is very entertaining.
This movie, being Marvel, has a clip after the credits, and like The Avengers it has two. Once the movie ends there is a short animated credits sequence, then a clip that sets up the future story (points if you actually know what character appears, and I was surprised at the actor), then there is the long text credits, and finally a really short but cute scene. So plan on sitting and chatting for a while after the movie itself. One thing I hated when I was working at the movie theater was how people would wait for something at the end of the credits when for almost all movies there isn't anything - it made us late to start cleaning.
My recommendation- worth full price (though don't unless you have to), even if you didn't see the last one odds are you'll get this easily; if you've liked any of the Marvel movies so far, this is just as good as the others.