Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thor: The Dark World: A Review

   It's amazing to realize we live in a world where superhero movies are a common event.

   The latest entry into the category is Thor: The Dark World, which is based on one of Walt Simonson's concepts. (Thor is based, of course, on the original Stan Lee / Jack Kirby / Larry Lieber comic.)

   The Dark Elves, led by the powerful Malekith, hope to use the power of the Aether (this movie's mystical McGuffin) to destroy the nine realms and return the universe to its original state - complete darkness.

   We see a recap of the ancient battle that left the Aether in the hands of Asgard - but when Jane Foster stumbles across it, the Dark Elves arise and threaten all of existence. 

   Chris Hemsworth has playing the part of Thor down to a science - sometimes brash (especially in battle), often with a humorous twinkle in his eye, at other times thoughtful - it's nice to see this Thor is actually smart (though perhaps too smart for his own good sometimes).

   Natalie Portman plays scientist Jane Foster, and her studies, along with Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard, who gets to provide most of the lowbrow humor - or pantsless humor - in this one), drive the story along. 

   Thankfully, they brought back Tom Hiddleston's Loki back to give Thor someone to match wits with and bounce jokes off of (the gag as the two are walking back from the dungeon is a riot). He's a delightfully vile character - sometimes you love him, and sometimes you hate him.

   Anthony Hopkins makes a terrific Odin, of course, and gets a few choice scenes along the way. 

   Christopher Eccleson makes a excellent villain, though it would have been nice if he had a bit more to do. The same is true of the Warriors Three - Fandral (Zachary Levi), Hogun (Tadanobu Asano) and Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) - and Sif (Jaimie Alexander). They're great fun when they appear, but they just don't have enough to do.

   It's not a perfect movie, of course - the general plot is a bit muddy, and we're never sure exactly how Jane discovers the Aether in the first place. Also, in the battle over Asgard there are some dogfight sequences that seem a bit out of place (though they are fun). 

   In addition to the excellent action sequences, there are some heartfelt moments and quite a few genuine laughs (though not at the expense of the character), and I like that Thor is depicted as both powerful and smart - not just a surly jock.

   The final action sequence almost (but not quite) spins out of control, but it's all fast and fun. It doesn't quite manage the explosive payoff of The Avengers, but it's a solid fantasy adventure and quite a bit of fun. If you liked the first Thor movie (I did), you'll like this one, too.

   (Oh, and don't leave until the credits are done - there are two in-credit bonus scenes - one a teaser, and one wrapping up a loose end.)

   And who would ever have thought that we'd see a day when we not only have quality superhero movies - but sequels as well? And ones earning hundreds of millions of dollars both here and overseas?


Grade: A-




Dan O. said...

Good review Chuck. Not as good as the first, but still a whole bunch of fun because it never gets too serious, or too jokey. Just right somewhere in the middle.

Frank Castle said...

I'd give it more of a B-/B. There were a lot of things to like, but for me it seemed less then the sum of its parts.

And I mistakenly missed the 2nd after credits scene. D'oh!

Chuck said...

Dan, thanks. I agree, the first one was a smudge better.

Frank, most of the people in the theatre when i saw it left when the credits rolled. A friend had warned me to stay to the very end, thank goodness.