Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thor: The Dark World

Get out your lightning-hammers and space canoes, we're reviewing Thor: The Dark World!

When Malekith (Chistopher Eccelston), leader of the Dark Elves, returns and wants to destroy the universe with the help of a weapon called the Aether, it's up to Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) to stop him! Can they “Turn Off the Dark” with the power of hammers and science?

So, Thor 2 is pretty good. Thor 2 feels like the Iron Man 2 of the Thor series, in that it's trying to tie in and hype up not only the Thor sequel, but all of the new movies coming out soon in the Marvel universe. Also like Iron Man 2, there's way more fighting and it feels super-fast. And boy do they go full-on crazy with the space opera!

This starts off with a not-entirely-unnecessary explanation of the Aether and Dark Elves, and it occurred to me that there's a very real possibility that the Marvel movies might one day be as convoluted as the Marvel comics. And I really hope that doesn't happen, because then, in order to enjoy any of them, you'll basically have to see ALL of them. Then again, if that's their endgame, it is a devious business plan.

If you enjoyed the first Thor, there is no doubt you'll enjoy this one! In his debut movie, you could argue they were trying to go pretty light on the space-god craziness, because they were wondering if audiences would really go for an alien Viking god fighting ice giants on a rainbow bridge. But now they know that as long as Chris Hemsworth takes his shirt off they've got a full pass to go crazy with the space-god stuff. And it's great! I wish there was MORE crazy space-god stuff. Once you have winged-laser Viking space canoes why bother going back to the real world?

There is a ton of great action stuff. Lots of pew-pew space lasers, and black-hole grenades, and laser swords, and Thor bringing down the hammer – all kinds of crazy stuff! I really liked the enemy ship designs - some were basically just flying knives. More flying knife ships, I say! I also liked Sif and the Warriors Three, but I wanted more than the obligatory, "You go, we'll hold them off off-screen!" Also, why is the only Asian guy in the Warriors Three taken out of the picture like twenty minutes in? Honest question! I have no idea. But at least there's more Idris Elba being a badass! Heimdall!

Another honest question, do Asguardians poop? Because I did not see a toilet in Loki's cell. Unless he's pulling off one hell of a messy illusion...

Speaking of Loki, his fans will not be disappointed. There are tons of great Loki scenes, and especially “Loki and Thor bein' bros” scenes. I thoroughly enjoyed their interactions, quipping at each other and loving how they seemed to grow. Of course, that will probably all change by the next movie, when they'll need them both to be in the exact same place they started. But Tom Hiddleston is great, Chris Hemsworth is great, and they have as much chemistry as ever. I like this version of Thor too. Like in Iron Man 3, he's changed by the events of the first movie and of The Avengers. (Will Avengers 2 start off with all of them in group therapy?) No longer the party god, Thor's now more humble and trying his damnedest to do what's right for his kingdom and the entire universe, while also trying to figure out how to live on earth with Jane Foster. It’s a great place to start a great story.

Speaking of women, well – it's complicated. On the one hand, Thor: The Dark World has probably the most badass females of any Marvel movie, until Miss Marvel finally gets her own film. We've got Thor's mom, Frigga (Renne Russo), showing some awesome swordplay; Sif (Jaime Alexander), being awesome in battle as always; Jane Foster, being the cool science person; and Darcy (Kat Dennings), being the comedic center of the movie. On the other hand, Jane Foster is a damsel in distress for at least half the movie; Sif barely gets any screen-time, and when she does there's supposed to be a subplot of her fighting with Jane over Thor, like a couple of cats, and one of them gets stuffed in the fridge; but Darcy is still cool, gets shit done, and is hilarious, so I'll count it as a win. Plus, Bechdel test: passed!

The effects are fantastic and the battles range from incredible to slapstick-funny. The 3D isn’t great, though, so I wouldn't go out of your way to indulge that extra feature this time around. The score is appropriate, but nothing I'd write home about. All in all, it's a really fun movie! It does feel a little fast – there's a lot of stuff going on – and it ends in a weird way. You'll have to stay through the credits, even though the very last scene at the end of the credit roll could have easily been put as the last scene of the movie instead, but whatever. Overall, it's a petty great film and a step up from its predecessor. 

THE GOOD: Great visuals, great fight scenes, great acting, badass females, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, shirtless Hemsworth, Kat Dennings, fun crazy space opera stuff

THE BAD: Kind of need to see all the other Marvel movies to appreciate it, 3D not great, feels fast, women in refrigerators and damsel in distress sort of. 

THE VERDICT: $$$$ See it! It's a great film. It's super fun, and lots of shipping to be had. 

MOVIES LIKE IT: Thor, Flash Gordon, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: The opening battle has Sif and the Warriors Three, along with a bunch of Asguardians, fighting a bunch of random bad guys trying to take over a world. Not much explanation, just throws you into the battle. And then Thor comes, but Thor is different. Instead of enjoying the battle, he wants to end it as quickly as possible. 

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