Sunday, November 10, 2013

Movie Review: Thor-The Dark World

It's Hammer Time...Again (Sorry for the lame pun).

Picking up after the Battle of New York and the previous destruction of the BiFrost, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is cleaning up and bringing peace to the other Nine Realms while still thinking about Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Back on Earth Jane makes discovers a temporal disturbance and finds herself zapped by a mysterious energy that causes to disappear from the site of the all-seeing Heimdall (Idris Elba). Concerned, Thor finally makes it back to Earth and finds Jane, who has a force flowing threw her. No not that one, rather a force called the Aether, a force that was once sought by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), the ruler of the Dark Elves, who following his defeat has been in a stat of suspended animation but now awakes. And when Thor takes Jane to Asgard, Malektith follows, bringing death and destruction. Disobeying his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), Thor decides that there is only one way to defeat Malekith and his minions...and he's going to need help from Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to do it.

Yeah that's a lot of story and depending on where you sit an asset or a flaw. For this reviewer-and fan of the first Thor film and the comics-its sort of a flaw. Part of the problem is that again, like so many of the Marvel films, the plot hinges on a Macguffin that the bad guys want and the good guys have to stop them-in this case the Aether. After a lot of exposition about their early defeat, temporal portals and a lot of running around, you would think the screenwriters could come up with something new or less predictable. Also the film suffers from too much deja vu, and not just from previous Marvel movies. The opening with Malekith's troops and their ships reminded me of the opening melee of Man of Steel, a fight on the home planet of Hogan the Grimm resembles a leftover fight from The Lord of the Rings while the attack on Asgard and Thor and Loki's escape looks like someone had studied Star Wars too much. I know some people were not thrilled by Kenneth Branagh's handling of the first film and probably hoped that new director Alan Taylor would bring a more gritty take on the material (especially after his run on Game of Thrones) but personally I miss Branagh's more deft hand when it came to the action and spectacle.

That's not to say that Thor-The Dark World is a complete loss. In fact it has much to recommend it, starting with the performers. Hemsworth brings a more toned-down attitude to Thor here, now a man struggling with his personal feelings towards Jane while maintaining his duty to Asgard. There is some fun-if too brief turns-by Rene Russo and Elba, and some welcome comedy from Stellan Skarsgard. The humor also extends to a comic "cameo" from a fellow Avenger and the big finale. In fact it's the last part that kicks in and saves the movie, finally putting the exposition away and focusing on the action. The film's biggest asset though is Hiddleston, who again steals the movie as a spiteful and angry Loki, who still brims with resentment towards his brother and father but shows some touching moments with Russo.

If I'm making the film sound bad it isn't. It just doesn't capture the fun spirit of the first film. That said considering the rest of this year's comic book crop (Iron Man 3 was fun while Man of Steel went overboard in the wrong way) Thor-The Dark World manages at least to fit in between. At least there is no annoying computer girls (thanks Agents of SHIELD for delivering the most annoying TV character of the past decade).

I'm giving the film a *** out of 4 with reservations. The good parts are that good and I might change my mind later so I'll leave it for now. Just leave any comments below.

1 comment:

Dan O. said...

Great review. Cool to see a stand-alone Marvel movie actually acknowledge the fact that yes, the Avengers did happen, and that they still exist in this universe, even if they aren't always popping-up to say hello or kick some butt.