Dec 5, 2013

Quick Reviews: 'Thor: The Dark World'

Marvel's Very Own Shakespearean Tragedy
Call me crazy, but I really liked the first Thor movie. Directed by Shakespeare's own Kenneth Branagh, the movie had a good speed, classic heroes and villain archetypes, and a fairly simple story of betrayal, family, and honor. It was like watching a play at the freaking theater, but with magic!  So I had pretty high hopes for the second film in this Marvel property, and all-in-all I wasn't too disappointed.  Thor 2: The Streets picks up some time after The Avengers, and, after a confusing prologue, once again focuses on Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her merry band of science imbeciles. Foster is working to get over her
boyfriend/Norse God and figure out some sort of physics-y phenomenon thing involving world alignments. When she accidentally gets sucked into a wormhole and filled with aether (AKA evil Gak), things don't looks good. Thankfully, her boyfriend arrives to save her, and our adventure begins! To break the set up down, there's basically this Dark Elf (thought to be dead) who wants the aether in order to plunge all the worlds into Darkness, and to get it he needs to get Jane to suck the aether out of her. After that, it's a race against the clock, trying to stop the Dark Elf (whose name I refuse to look up but who is played by the 9th Doctor himself, Christopher Eccleston) before the worlds line up and he reigns Darkness down and ZZZZZZ. 

Tween Thor: The Dork World
Oh, I'm sorry, I just fell asleep writing that sentence, because this plot is soooo boring. Thankfully, Tom Hiddleston's Loki (you know, the villain from The Avengers and every Tumblr users' wet dream) is there to liven up the proceedings. As Thor, Chris Hemsworth may be the ostensible lead of this film, but it's really Hiddleston's show, and he's great. He helps infuse energy, humor, and real pathos into a film sorely lacking in all three, giving the second hour of this behemoth a jolt of electricity (I think there's some wordplay there).  He's sublime, and he really plays the bullied sibling/sad son/King Lear crap fantastically.

Do I whimper now or later? Oh, both? 
Now let's get back to Jane Foster. So far Marvel has a good history of hiring actresses with a high level of acting prowess and then actually giving them something to do. Gwyneth Paltrow, after slumming it in the first two Iron Man movies (and walking around barefoot in The Avengers), actually got to be pretty kick-ass in the last installment. Scarlett Johansson got the chance to be great in The Avengers after a rough turn in Iron Man 2. If we include X-Men in the equation, you can see Halle Berry's increasingly large role (she's practically the lead of the execrable third film) and Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique is a huge presence in the reboot. Now we come to Jane Foster, who is supposed to be a smart, capable scientist. However, she is kept out of decision making throughout the movie, is continually incapacitated by the weakness-inducing aether (even though she somehow has energy to change outfits at the drop of a hat), and is relegated to video game shenanigans in the climax of the movie. She's reduced to a science-loving tween, pining after her jock boyfriend and sharing a few barbs with his nebbishy brother. It's embarrassing. The black swan deserves better.

Even though the movie doesn't know what to do with almost any of its characters, the movie is still pretty good. The last half is great (again, mostly due to Loki) and Chris Hemsworth is actually much better this time in the cape (they also finally figured out what to do with his eyebrows). And Rene Russo gets a few moments to be awesome, which seems crazy in this post-Thomas Crowne Affair era that we're living in. It's a solid action movie that's not quite as good as the first movie but still pretty solid.

Grade: 7 out of 9 Magical Realms

Be sure to check out the review of the other 
Hemsworth movie, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
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