Hot on the heels of the gargantuan successes of THE AVENGERS and IRON MAN 3, we are now treated to THOR: THE DARK WORLD, a film loaded with character vignettes, geek out moments and balls to the wall action. When the 9 realms come under threat from an old enemy, Thor is forced to do the reluctant team up thing with Loki to combat them and restore order to the cosmos. Bring on the bickering, banter and blows!
Introducing the featured speaker for the 2013 Biceps Anonymous Convention, Mr. Rocky Balboa!
Directed by veteran TV auteur Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones) and brought to life by a stellar cast, THOR: THE DARK WORLD starts the way any decent action flick should: in the middle of a fight.
Flexing biceps the size of Boston, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) easily fits back in his role as the grinning thunder god, but with a touch more humility than he was previously known for. Busy restoring things back to normal across the realms after the events of THE AVENGERS, Thor, Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and the Warriors Three (Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi and Tadanobu Asano) are seen kicking 7 levels of booty on Hogun’s home realm. Just before the battle, we get a bit of exposition via voiceover from Odin (Anthony Hopkins) discussing the origins of the Dark Elves and their leader, Malekith.
Now, this won’t hurt. Much.
I hold the notion that a movie is only as interesting as its villain. Malekith, played by a stern Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who’s 9th Doctor) is the glaring personification of racial-supremacy-through-annihilation, yet in this film, his role feels underutilised. I simply wanted to know more about him. His endgame was reality shifting, more than just your average ‘wanting the worlds to go dark‘ scenario but screenwriter Christopher Yost and company clearly felt they had done enough to justify his existence and motivations. He wants to turn out the lights? Ok, good for you! Moving on. Which leads me to Loki. After the women in the audience got an eyeful of Thor’s half-naked form, Loki’s mischievous grin proved too much and reduced them to puddles of happy within their seats. Loki and his step brother’s tenuous relationship is given a glimpse of hope after tragedy strikes and much of the film focuses on that. Given Jane Foster’s (Natalie Portman) being reduced to a plot device in the form of The Aether, this is very much a film about repairing broken relationships.
These boys don’t have issues. They have a subscription.
Family issues abound in THOR: THE DARK WORLD. Taylor builds on the character development of the first movie and we get a little insight on the love Frigga (Rene Russo) has for her stepson, Loki. Odin has leveled off significantly since the events of THOR, yet we still get the feeling that he is a father of the hardest sort to please. That said, I couldn’t help feeling that there were moments that lacked the chemistry we saw in THOR. There were one or two pieces that seemed tacked on, like Lady Sif’s conversation with Thor during a victory party. It’s obvious that she carries a torch for him, yet the potential love triangle is merely glossed over. Still, there looks like there is hope on her horizon. Maybe.
Kim Jong Un briefly considered going with this uniform for his armed forces.
There was a wonderful moment between the brothers, with Loki mischievously ‘channeling’ everybody but the kitchen sink and driving his brother up the proverbial wall. Outside of Loki, comedic heavy lifting is reliant on Darcy (Kat Dennings) whose hit and miss brand of humor I still feel was shoehorned in, but there are some genuinely funny moments between her, a long suffering intern and Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård). Every film requires a moral compass, somebody to keep things in perspective. In THOR: THE DARK WORLD, this role is filled by Heimdall (Idris Elba), making Thor aware of the consequences of his actions after Malekith raids Asgard. He gets significantly more screentime this go round including a bad-ass take down of a Dark Elf ship that was cheer worthy.
Speaking of action… Dear Lord, I don’t think I’ve enjoyed such gleeful wanton destruction since THE AVENGERS. Architects get hit right in the feels as London landmarks are laid waste in a manner that even Zach Snyder would wince at. Taking his cue almost directly from panels in the comic book, Taylor creates some spectacular moments visually, with Mjolnir zipping through sub-space at break-everything speed. My inner 9 year old had a grand time watching Thor and Loki bicker during a space-ship-Fast & Furious like action sequence through Asgard.
For my next trick, I need a lady volunteer…Meh. You’ll do.
The visual effects had the Herculean task of transporting us to not only Asgard, but almost all of the other 9 realms. Each one was rendered with their own distinct character from the others, so I could tell that Thor and Malekith exchanged punches in Svartalfheim, drop kicks in Jotunheim and body slams in Anaheim, CA, I mean Vanaheim. The Dark Elves had a menacing look en masse, particularly with the rather eerie nature of their masks, which evoked BDSM parties without safewords. Creepy. Generally, the production design felt complete in Asgard, yet lacking in Midgard. It doesn’t hurt the film, but it’s just something that stood out to me.
If you haven’t paid attention to the way Marvel films work, do yourself a favour and stick around for mid and post credit scenes. I won’t spoil it here, but Marvel is hell bent on ‘collecting’ every nerd-gasm that they can before ‘Phase II’
THOR: THE DARK WORLD serves up a show-stealing Loki and Thor hammers his way to audience satisfaction. Wait, that came out wrong.