Thor: The Dark World

Thor Dark World

 

My long-suffering wife took me to Thor: The Dark World over the weekend. We had a lot of fun although the movie was definitely a mixed bag.

* Reducing Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) from a scientist to a love-sick stalker/catalyst who is only defined by her man

* Way too many lasers and spaceships

* A rather bland villain and enemies

On the other hand, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are not only nice to look at but have good chemistry, Rene Russo gets a nice action scene, Kat Dennings provides some nice comic relief (though the best laugh by far was from a star cameo).

As with Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World is fun but not a good movie.

Be aware that there are two after-credits scenes a la The Avengers. Also if you go to the 3D version, you get a five-minute preview of Captain America.

While we were there, we got the Thor “plastic combo” – 2 large sodas in plastic cups and a large popcorn in a plastic bucket. I love this combo at Epic and try to collect each one they put out. The cups are a nice quality heavy plastic.

ThorDarkWorldpopcorn

 

ThorDarkWorldcups

 

Also one final note on Dumas week: I forgot to mention that Thor is currently showing on Netflix. While Thor is not based on Dumas’ works, it is clear that The Three Musketeers was an inspiration for The Warriors Three (Volstagg, Fandral the Dashing, and Hogun the Grim), a fixture in Thor since the late 60s.

Aliens Attack! Thor Edition

After several terrible Thor ripoff movies, the real Thor arrives on instant Netflix.

Thor (2011) – Rated PG-13

“In this Marvel Comics-inspired action flick, thunder god Thor finds himself banished by his father, Odin, and forced to live among humans on Earth to learn humility. Can Thor regain his powers and return home?”

In the Marvel comics, they obviously couldn’t have Thor speaking a Norse language. Instead, in order to set him apart, they have Thor and the other Asgardians speaking a form of high English, basically someone’s idea of a cross between courtly manners and dumbed-down Shakespeare.

What could be more fitting for Shakespearean dialogue than to hire as director the man most known for Shakespeare, Kenneth Branagh?

Presumably to appease fans, they have shoehorned as many characters as possible into the movie. Besides the obvious Thor, Loki and Jane Foster, we also have Odin, Frigga, Heimdall, Lady Sif, Fandral, Volstagg, Hogun the Grim and The Destroyer.

Although this movie flips back and forth, it can clearly be separated into two parts: those that take place in Asgard and those that take place on Earth.

The Asgard portions are very serious and special effects heavy. They have all the ingredients of Shakespearean tragedy: a noble ruler, an arrogant ungrateful heir to the throne, and a treacherous brother who is second in line to the throne.

In contrast, the Earth portions are light-hearted and poke a lot of fun at Thor. I really liked Kat Dennings as Darcy. She plays the comic relief quite well but some of my friends found her to be abrasive. There is a very nice cameo setting up Hawkeye for The Avengers movie.

Both portions involve a lot of battle action for Thor but this is not a nonstop action fest. The action is good but not especially memorable so it is well that the focus is on Thor himself. Thor is played by the bulked-up and very good looking Chris Hemsworth. Hemsworth is not required to show much range here but he is charming, athletic, heroic, and funny.

Tom Hiddleston really nailed the role of the villainous Loki. With this role, he moved from British television to Hollywood. He has since played F. Scott Fitzgerald in the magnificent Midnight in Paris and Captain Nicholls in War Horse. His Loki was so well-received that he played him again in The Avengers and is slated to return in Thor 2 next year.

He is backed up on Earth by Natalie Portman as love interest Jane Foster, Clark Gregg as the ever-present Agent Coulson and Stellan Skarsgard as Erik Selvig. Asgard is overrun by noted thespians: Anthony Hopkins (Odin), Rene Russo (Frigga), Idris Elba (Heimdall), Colm Feore (King Laufey), and Ray Stevenson as Volstagg.

All in all Thor is what it should be – a fun comic book movie.

Don’t Forget: All the Avengers movies have a teaser scene after the credits. Thor’s scene sets up this year’s The Avengers just as the scene after Iron Man 2 teased Thor. As usual look for Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. Comic book fans can keep an eye out during Thor for the Cask of Ancient Winters, a reference to Donald Blake, the Cosmic Cube (aka the Tesseract), and more.

The Avengers – Great Superhero Movie or Greatest Superhero Movie

The above picture is for my youngest daughter. She even named her cat Loki (after the Norse god though – not the comic book character).

I am a sucker for comic book movies. I see every comic book movie I can and I enjoy myself whether they are good (The Avengers), bad (Green Lantern), or even downright ugly (Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance – worst movie I’ve seen at the theater this year but thanks to Netflix not the worst movie of the year). My wife and I went to see The Avengers again last night and I’ll probably see it a third time because my older daughter has yet to catch it.

I loved comic books as a pre-teen (my favorite was Tomb of Dracula) and then rediscovered them when I went away to college (and then stopped for a couple decades and now pick up the occasional graphic novel). It was in college that I discovered that it wasn’t so much the character but the writer that made the difference. This applies to movies as well – when I was a child, I looked forward to any movie starring my favorite actors. As an adult, I look forward to movies from my favorite directors much more than actors.

If you haven’t yet caught The Avengers, it is just as awesome as most people say it is. All of the wonderful Marvel movies have paid off in a great magnum opus. Comic book fans will delight in seeing their favorite heroes square off against one another before tackling the villains.

The only review point I disagree with is that they finally got the Hulk right. I thought Edward Norton’s Hulk/Banner was great. It is just that in The Avengers, the best laughs are from the Hulk. Also being an ensemble cast, the Hulk is not overused.

I hope The Avengers finally gives Joss Whedon the carte blanche that fanboys know he already deserves. As usual Joss’ strength is with ensemble casts and he is great at giving each character a unique voice. I dearly hope that he is onboard for the already greenlit sequel.

I am very much looking forward to The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises later this summer. The first trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man looked awful but the latest trailer looks much better. I will miss Sam Raimi though.

I have no doubt that The Dark Knight Rises will be a good film. Christopher Nolan has not made a bad movie yet and they range from interesting (Batman Begins, Inception, Insomnia) to masterpieces (The Dark Knight, Memento, The Prestige).