Due to a slight illness combined with schedule problems (I have those nowadays!) I wasn’t able to see MARVELDISNEY’S THOR: THE DARK WORLD in a timely enough fashion so as to provide you with a FIRST LOOK REVIEW before all the other decent blogs and sites did. But since you all like me so much, I thought I’d share some loose ramblings on the movie anyway.
THOR THE DARK WORLD A DISNEY/MARVEL COPRODUCTION is a sequel to both THOR and THE AVENGERS, a first in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (henceforth referred to as MCU)!* In a LotR-meets-STAR WARS style prologue, we are told that our universe was preceded by a DARK MATTER universe, inhabited by DARK MATTER ELVES. But then their universe ended and was replaced by a regular matter universe, which they found really gross and started to fuck up with a red mist thingy called the Aether. King Bor of Asgard beat all the dark elves back, and their leader Malekith went into hiding right after secreting away the Aether (Earth duhh). This is all very reminiscent of the first THOR, only we’re gonna spend the movie cleaning up Bor’s poop rather than Odin’s. It doesn’t help that Malekith and his henchman Kurse seem to have absolutely zero personality. They don’t crack jokes, they’re not particularly superhateably evil, and they only look sorta cool. Why they even got a guy like Eccleston to play the villain is beyond me. If they’d gotten Derek Mears or someone, at least they could have cut back on stunt people.
Like many (all) other Marvel movies though, TTDW can coast on excellent actors with amazing chemistry. Let it once more be said how shitty the STAR WARS prequels were by comparing Natalie Portman performances. The Superhero Girlfriend is that classic modern leading lady paradox of a role in which any decent actress would probably not be interested but for the worldwide exposure and fat staxxx it provides. But Portman makes Jane Foster work! She’s funny and charming and intelligent and all that other shit that’s essential to and too good for the role at the same time.
So you can imagine what dynamite is delivered when good actors actually get something to chew on! Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are absolute superstars, owning their roles so effortlessly that their bickering ends up as meatier set pieces than the action scenes – which are great and inventive in their own right, a definite improvement from the first one.
I also liked that Skarsgard’s Erik Selvig has been pretty much turned into a nutty professor as superheroes in the silver age bumped into on a regular basis. If Thor is turned into a frog in Thor 3, it wouldn’t surprise me that it was due to professor Selvig’s new invention, the Amphibatron 5000.
There are actually SOME things to spoil, but none as great as IRON MAN 3’s Mandarin twist. Rather, there’s comedy stuff in there that’s so funny and out-of-nowhere I’d rather not mention it. Oh hell, I gotta: If someone could identify the recurring Xzibit song, that’d be great.
Bigger and more exciting than its predecessor, TTDW nevertheless retains all the heart the principals imbued in their characters but lacks a convincing threat. I’ve heard it argued that the villains’ blandness turns the focus to the family conflict of the Asgardian royals. Fair enough, as it IS the strongest part of the film, but it couldn’t have hurt to give them some funny bits then. Have Malekith sample some delicious [product placement] and declare the Dark Elves will spare this… VIMTO and bring it into the next glorious universe. TTDW ain’t perfect, but Phase 2 is… two for two as far as I’m concerned.** (sorry)
*IRON MAN THREE was only a sequel to AVENGERS cuz none of the characters remembered the events of IM2
**Mid-credits gag spoiler: a James Gunn-directed GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY tease is clumsily inserted into the mid-credits, against TTDW helmer Alan Taylor’s wishes. I liked its cheap and cheesy Star Trek: The Original Series look, but it clashes completely with the rest of the movie, and it just confused my audience. Marvel better get a REALLY commercial trailer out for this, or they’ll be coasting on old franchises for a while yet!