Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hey! We Saw a Movie! - Thor: The Dark World

 For today’s review we travel back in time… or forward to the future… or I guess laterally toward the strange futuristic middle ages world that is Asgard and its hunky, muscular, vaguely Australian hero named Thor. Wait, is Asgard a world or a city? They talk like it’s an entire realm, but it just looks like an overly elaborate city on film. What’s the deal? If that’s all there is to Asgard, what do they eat there? Or do they just go to other realms via the rainbow bridge and pillage their crops and livestock? That seems more likely, being Viking gods and all. Anyways, here is our review of Thor: The Dark World.

As always, there will probably be spoilers, but don’t worry. The secret that the smoke monster is actually Titus Welliver is safe with me!

Toaster’s Contribution: To adequately critique the new film, I think I need to explain our problems with the last one. Jonny and I have 2 big gripes about the previous Thor installment. The first is the same as any superhero film; you have to spend time to give the back story of the characters. In Thor’s case, the filmmakers had to donate a lot of time to the back story. After all, it’s a little harder to explain a magic hammer wielding god from outer space as opposed to, say a meek soldier given a secret serum to make him into a superhuman. I think that having to give the origin in the first film is why the sequel to (most) superhero franchises is better. The second, and bigger problem, is what the first Thor film did with the rest of their time. The movie had a dumb, quite under-whelming plot that saw Loki with an evil plan that made no sense (he was going to win Odin’s love by doing the same thing Thor got yelled at for?), the extremely intelligent Jane Foster become giggling girl putty at the sight of a nice set of abs and Thor change his entire perspective on life, honor and what it means to be a king in, oh, about an afternoon. The highlight of the movie was the Destroyer, which by comparison really wasn’t a long enough segment.

Now this is a point of some contention, but Jonny and I really didn’t think Loki was used (or directed) well in the first Thor. Honestly, we thought Tom Hiddleston was completely miscast… that was until we saw The Avengers. Loki was perfect in that movie. We then decided Kenneth Branagh simply didn’t know how to direct the character as clearly Joss Whedon hit it out of the ballpark. So, that is an additional problem that we had with the first film.

Thor: The Dark World didn’t have these problems and as a result was able to tell a compelling and action-packed story. In fact, a lot of complaints one may have had against the first movie were improved upon. Natalie Portman’s character actually served a major purpose to the story. Kat Dennings got much more screen time. Thor’s Asgardian allies, such as The Warriors Three and Sif, were all given the spotlight at certain points. Even Heimdall, played by the always awesome and underrated Idris Elba, was given a chance to show how much of a bad ass he could be. Loki was used to excellence, his character given a major part in the story. We also got to see a lot more of the realm of Asgard, with its weird mix of medieval weaponry, magic, laser cannons and spaceships. That’s a really weird mix. Sometimes I thought I was watching He-man. Hey, that would be a cool battle… Thor vs. He-man!  (Thor may have the edge in that one given that he can fly.)

If I had to complain, it would be about the amount of time spent with the movie’s villains Malekith and the Kursed. Let me start off by saying that Malekith’s army, the Dark Elves, looked extremely creepy in those lifeless, black-eyed masks. Those could haunt my nightmares. The 9th Doctor himself Chris Eccleston played Malekith, the leader of the Dark Elves who had a serious obsession with a universal force known as The Aether and it’s ability to help him plunge all of existence into permanent darkness. (Maybe like Mr. Burns he owned a nuclear power plant and stood to make a killing without sunlight!)

Eccleston made for a great baddie. At times he commanded a Terrence Stamp Zod swagger along with his booming voice. I would have liked more time with Malekith though. I also would have liked more of his uber-minion The Kursed. (Think if the Batman villain used his venom, but instead of becoming bigger and stronger, he became Doomsday!) The Kursed was awesome, a near-unstoppable force that was resistant to almost any weapon and whose touch would suck the life from you. His battle with Thor felt too short, though. Granted, I’m not sure how long Thor could have stood up to the monster, but such a build-up deserves an epic battle. In contrast, Thor’s final battle with Malekith was pretty great. It was given a good amount of time and felt every bit as epic as it should have. I just would have liked some more scenes with Malekith leading up to the climax to further cement his presence as a threat. Loki, who wasn’t really even a villain in The Dark World, had way more screen time than both Malekith and The Kursed combined!

That said, my complaints are pretty small. Thor: The Dark World definitely earns its place as one of Marvel’s best superhero films, possibly ranking third after Avengers and the first Iron Man. Of course, we will have to see how Captain America: The Winter Soldier ranks. The trailer to that movie looks incredible!

Alright, I have received a message from Jonny Prophet from deep within his volcano lair in the South Pacific. I will attempt to translate it for you…

Jonny’s Contribution: I love Loki and would totally want to be in his kingdom. Thor 2 corrects many of the problems with the first film, but I still have 3 questions… 1. Why didn’t Doctor Who just use his Tardis? 2. Why didn’t S.H.I.E.L.D. get involved in London? And 3. Why no Beta Ray Bill?… no Beta Ray Bill, no peace. Creepy elf masks rule!

Jonny went on to proclaim that Jaimie Alexander would make a great choice to play Wonder Woman. We would still love Gina Carano, but Alexander would be amazing. Her portrayal of Sif definitely won us over as a candidate for the Amazon warrior princess.

As for those questions, I’ll bet I can answer them for him. 1. Because he’s not Doctor Who, he’s Destro! 2. S.H.I.E.L.D. was too busy not going after the Mandarin in Iron Man 3 & 3. Weird horse-headed space Thor requires more time to explain than this movie would have allowed. I mean, just imagine…

Thor – Come on, we have to fight the evil Dark Elves before they destroy the universe! Oh wait, a weird robot horse head guy oddly dressed like me has arrived to help.

Beta Ray Bill – ‘Sup.  

Until the next review… Stay Strange!

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