Friday, November 22, 2013

Thor: The Dark World [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]


It has been a long awhile since I hunkered down and did some reviews. Never fear though, over the next week, and end of 2013, I'll be doing my best to get this blog up to 100 total posts. I know it's a lot of work on my part, but if you keep reading, I'll keep writing. Deal? Deal. Onto to main attraction. Now I haven't seen all that many movies actually IN the theater this year. But, ever since the current crop of Marvel, and really superhero in general, movies have been hitting theaters, I've made a point to go see them. Thor: The Dark World is no different as I'm a huge sucker for Marvel movies. Thor has always been a sneaky like of mine, and everything I was reading said that this was overall a better movie than it's predecessor. Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and Natalie Portman reprise their roles in the last big comic book movie of 2013. And I must say, it wasn't bad.

Thor: The Dark World takes place after The Battle of New York which occurred in The Avengers. To begin, we are shown a battle of titans that took place eons ago. In this battle Oden's (Anthony Hopkins) father Bor, clashes with and defeats the plans Dark Elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston). Malekith seals away a dark power, the Aether, and flees into suspended animation with a select few Dark Elves. Present day, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has been returned to Asgard and is facing Oden. Due to the compassion of his mother Frigga (Rene Russo), he is speared from execution and sentenced to jail. While this is happening Thor (Chris Hemsworth), alongside Fandral, Volstagg, Hogun and Sif (Zachary Levi, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano and Jaime Alexander), are fighting a battle to bring peace to Vanahiem. Thus bringing peace to the Nine Realms, as the Biofrost has been reconstructed. Meanwhile in London, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is taken to an abandoned building by her intern Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings). In said building, items have been breaking the laws of psychics. Jane goes off to explore on her own and is transported to where Malekith hid the Aether, and is infected. The Asgardians begin learning about the Convergence. A rare occurrence where all of the Nine Realms align, and portals connecting them appear at random. Malekith is awakened when Jane is infected by the Aether, and begins a quest to reclaim it from her. In the process we learn that he is trying to destroy the Nine Realms and bring the universe back into darkness. Thor, with help from Loki and Jane, must stop Malekith before the universe is destroyed.

This movie can easily be split into two categories. 1. Anywhere other than earth. 2. Out of place shenanigans on earth. Now I like comedy and laughing as much as the next guy, and Marvel usually has a pretty good sense of humor in their movies. But, this movie has way too much of it for me to take any scene taking place on earth seriously. Aside from the climax of the film. I was expecting fleshed out characters played by Kat Dennings and even Stellan Skarsgard. What I got were almost caricature's of what we got in the first movie. There's a ton of unneeded "comedy" between Kat Dennings and her intern, even though she's an intern. Haha? All the while Stellan is thrown into a bit where's he's turned into a crazy guy jailed after streaking. All of this is a distraction and I was not a fan of the way they portrayed the supporting characters on earth during the movie. On the flip side of this, the portrayal characters in Asgard, Svart√°lfar, Vanahiem and the rest of the Nine Realms is fantastic. Tom Hiddleston, as Loki, commands the screen in any scene he is in. I love Loki's character and it's probably (to me) the most well written role (albeit not a ton of screen time) in this area of the Marvel movie universe (aside from Iron Man). Natalie Portman, as Jane Foster, slips into the caricature mode when on earth. But while she is away, she is a great on-screen presence with Hemsoworth, Hiddleston, Russo and Hopkins. Speaking of Chris Hemsworth, he reprises is role as Thor very well, and is really growing into the character. Even getting a little bit of growth and digging a bit deeper into it with Dark World. There's not a lot of other standout or distracting characters. Christopher Eccleston is as good as you can get with Malekith I suppose. While Thor's team, alongside Idris Elba and Anthony Hopkins, are relegated more to the background as they focused more on Thor, Loki and Jane in this.

The action in Thor: The Dark World, and almost any Marvel movie is pretty fun. You have Thor absolutely demolishing baddies, which is part of the charm of his character now. Thor and Loki doing their best WWE impersonation and forming a tag team was cool as well. There's some cool set pieces throughout, and weaved throughout the story line there's enough mind numbing action to wet anyone's appetite. I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to things like action and comedy as well. So I know I'm always in for a good time watching these types of movies. Like in the above paragraph, the writing can be split into those two areas. But overall it does a much better job than the first movie. Sure the overbearing scenes set on earth are out of place, but even in that the story is progressed well. Meanwhile the characters and plot are engrossing when it comes time for a scene in one of the other realms. It's a tough job blending all the things going on in this movie. But it's presented well enough to not confuse the hell out of the audience.  I really liked the way they dove into Thor's mind in this and gave him a bit more than "Thor, smash." Sorry Hulk, it had to be said. Meanwhile, Jane Foster goes from seemingly lost scientist in the first movie, to Thor's main squeeze in this. It nice to see they didn't forget about her despite only mentioning her in The Avengers. Finally Loki is given yet another dimension. We've seen the power hungry and the wanting to be ruler in Thor and The Avengers. We now have a Loki that's tapped into his emotions, and is a perfect blend of relateble guy, misunderstood genius and complete psychopath. It helps that Tom Hiddleston does a ridiculously good job of embodying everything the Loki is. The CGI looks good throughout. The pull in/out shots of Asgard are fantastic. As well as the funeral scene that was done beautifully. While the desolation of Svart√°lfar is oddly creepy. I didn't see it in 3D, but what really stood out to me, was there not being many points where I went, "There's where 3D would be if I was watching in it." The music and score are fine throughout, adding drama, tension, etc, when needed. There's a fantastic cameo that I won't spoil, alongside Stan Lee making his annual appearance. Both of which I enjoyed.

Thor: The Dark World isn't going to be a movie that will convince people to jump on the Marvel bandwagon. Show them Iron Man 3, show them The Avengers, that's what draws people in. This movie bridges gaps, builds characters, and gives a lesser known character, in Thor, the time to shine. Full of action, humor (even though a lot is out of place, there's still great moments) and a capable story, Thor: the Dark World is a nice addition to this film universe. It'll tide the comic book fans over until the likes of Captain America: Winter Soldier, X-Men Days of Future Past, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy next year. While providing a capable, late in the year action movie, that people can go see over the Thanksgiving holiday. Did I mention that I love Tom Hiddleston as Loki? I don't think I did enough. Solid stuff Marvel, keep it up, and I'll keep watching.


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