Friday, March 11, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Thor: The Dark World (2013)

This week the latest trailer came out for Marvel's CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (2016), which opens May 6th. While I have reservations about a movie in which the Avengers are fighting each other, rather than the bad guys, I plan to see it; the trailer thus served as a good reminder that I should wrap up watching the other Marvel movies before it comes out!

THOR: THE DARK WORLD (2013) is a case when the parts are greater than the sum. The film has a host of superb actors and numerous wonderful moments, yet it just doesn't work quite as well as the original film in the series, THOR (2011).

Scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) has been separated from her love, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), future king of Asgard, for two years. While they were apart Thor did return to Earth, fighting as one of THE AVENGERS (2012) in the Battle of New York, but he then returned to Asgard. With unrest across the Nine Realms, as he explained to Jane, "Wars were raging, marauders were pillaging, I had to put an end to the slaughter." She quips "As excuses go, it's not terrible."

Thor becomes aware that something is wrong with Jane when Heimdall (Idris Elba), gatekeeper of Asgard, can no longer see her, and he immediately heads to Jane in London. She's been contaminated by something evil, so he transports her to Asgard. Long story short, it's going to take a deal with Thor's evil adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to save Jane...and the world.

There's a lot of "good stuff" in the film, notably starting with Hiddleston's troubled Loki, an unhappy, evil creature who hides his feelings as much as possible, especially his love for his adoptive mother, Queen Frigga (Rene Russo). Anthony Hopkins is back as the fearsome King Odin, Jaimie Alexander returns as the valiant warrior Lady Sif, Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings are once again Jane's research colleagues, and Zachary Levi debuts as one of the warriors closest to Odin.

The movie has some nice humorous moments -- how funny was the Captain America cameo?! or Jane slugging Loki "for New York"? However, in keeping with the title, the film's overall vibe is darker than in THOR.

The story is the film's main problem, being both disappointing and a bit muddled. Jane's been waiting for Thor's return for so long, and now there's something terribly wrong with her. Their arrival in Asgard is soon followed by another character's tragic death. And the climactic battle spilling from one world to the next due to "the Convergence" is a little confusing to follow, as someone gets slugged in one world and lands in another! Plus there was a final cliffhanger of sorts regarding a character who proved to be "undead." How?

All in all it was entertaining, just not on the same level as the original. Hopefully THOR: RAGNAROK (2017), due out next year, is a return to form. Hemsworth, Hiddleston, and Alexander return, and Mark Ruffalo also appears as the Hulk. No word on any other cast members yet, including Natalie Portman as Jane.

THOR: THE DARK WORLD was directed by Alan Taylor. It was filmed by Kramer Morgenthau.

Parental Advisory: THOR: THE DARK WORLD is rated PG-13 for "intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content." I'm not even sure what the latter could have been! Like all Marvel movies, there is much fighting but no gore.

Most people tell me not to bother with THE INCREDIBLE HULK (2008), so putting that title aside, I've got just one Marvel film left to go for now, AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015).

Previous Marvel reviews: CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (2011), CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014), IRON MAN (2008), IRON MAN 2 (2010), IRON MAN 3 (2013), THOR (2011), THE AVENGERS (2012), GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014), AGENT CARTER (2015), and ANT-MAN (2015).


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