Tag Team Review: ‘Thor: The Dark World’

thor the dark world
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thor_the_dark_world_ver2Directed by Alan Taylor
Written by Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Eccleston, Jaimie Alexander, Zachary Levi, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, Idris Elba, Rene Russo, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgard

 

Lux: So, I was 100% a fan of this movie. I’m really glad they used the giant universe that Thor operates in. The last one was cool, but I wanted to see a little more than just the desert in new mexico. Also Elves with laser guns! How great is that? Very great! It was a nice blend of sci-fi and fantasy.

Which I can get behind, because that’s what Marvel is all about. It was good to start establishing that universal vibe with Guardians Of The Galaxy on the way (sorry but I gotta mention it. It’s gonna be my favorite movie).

D-Rock: I, myself wasn’t entirely a fan but found it extremely entertaining. There are tons of fantastical elements that blew me away, especially the stuff Mike mentioned involving Elves with motherf&%ing lasers. Not to mention the beautifully expanded world of Asgard that we missed on the first round. That said, Earth sequences I found somewhat distracting and a little unnecessary to the film’s tone. Not to say the humor wasn’t great, because the film is quite funny in places. I just wished we focused on the actual story of Asgard more rather than the shenanigans of Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarskard.

These are just nitpicks though, and don’t make the film as a whole any less fun. Sequences in this follow-up are bound to relax Star Wars fans that Disney can make a solid sequel. If anything, the Marvel universe is a modern day Star Wars taking us to realms we’ve never seen before with strong heroic characters.

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Lux: Totally agree with your take on the Earth business. It was pretty annoying (not that Denning and Skarsgard weren’t great – they were) and it did break up a pedal to the metal pace that I thought the movie was rocking pretty hard. I woulda loved to see some more depth from the Asgard stories. They introduce all of those crazy cool fantasy god people and then give them just about no time. Who were those dudes? The guy with the rapier!! So awesome!! What happened to him?

That being said, I messed with the plot as a whole. It was totally simple, but great. Just give me a solid threat and set the heroes on their way, and let them get into it. This movie sets Thor and Loki loose (Jane’s there too, but only sorta) and allows them to get into a series of awesome, well characterized set pieces.

D-Rock: The threat was definitely stronger this time around with Malekith, who reminded me of a cross between Dobby from Harry Potter and Green Goblin. Also, I was a huge fan of whatever that crazy dark beast creature was that wrecked shop throughout the Asgard prison. These elements felt a lot stronger when it came to raising the stakes for the sequel. It felt like in several moments a ton of people could die, whether it be god or man, but thankfully it never went full blown crazy like in Man of Steel.

Which brings me to Loki… Holy sh*t! How awesome is Loki, Lux?

Thor: The Dark World

Lux: Totally unfiltered radical awesome!! Awesome like The Miz (WWE 2k14 review coming soon!). Hiddleston leaks menacing charisma all over every set he’s on in this movie. They must have gone through so many mops cleaning that stuff up. And I totally agree with this idea of threat im the movie. It’s always on the edge of total destruction, but doesn’t go over until the end, when it is most excellent. This is best displayed in the prison scene you mentioned. The Kursed (that giant stone fire beast) causes a ruckus and it could have easily been a super chaotic set piece, but instead the creature has a plan which sets off a way more intricate and compelling sequence because there are real stakes.

Sorry to get of topic, but dang that is good filmmaking. We were talking about Loki right? Ok, good. The people wanted a Loki movie and they sorta got one here. He definitely goes through the most interesting arc and makes a whole bunch of plot altering choices.  He’s kinda the main character in ways. Beyond Loki, I thought both Thor and Jane were good. Jane had a lot more going on this time (you could see Jose Whedon all over every word she said) and that really worked for me. So I know you think Loki was great, but tell me this: how was Thor for you this time around?

D-Rock: Well Lux, as far as Chris Hemsworth goes, I thought he was about on par as ever. He absolutely completes the role of Thor with ease and maintains the same confidence he brought from the first movie. Outside of his acting, I love how Marvel showed off more of his battle presence in this film. The first moment he lands in the middle of warfare and you see that Hammer fly out of the colorful bifrost, I grinned ear-to-ear. It’s awesome to see the weight of that hammer shoot across that screen and lay waste to the alien world.

If I did have any issues, it might stem from the Jane character. I’m not sure how to explain it, but I wasn’t feeling the chemistry from Portman this time around that I saw in Thor 1. Keep in mind, this is the girl from Black Swan we’re talking about, and I din’t feel the love. All that said, I can stare at Portman all day on-screen. The woman is just absolutely beautiful.

Thor: The Dark World

Lux: Yeah, well as far as visuals go Natalie Portman is definitely a good one, but I see your point. I actually thought she was good, but that had a lot to do with how well that character was written. There was less of a spark this time around, and that made the scenes she was in, especially when they first start hanging out, drag a little bit. It felt like they’d been in a relationship for a long time and they didn’t need that level of energy, but that’s not true. They hadn’t seen each other for years. I thought that when they first reconnect and she slapped him in the face it would make for an interesting romantic subplot of her reticence to get involved, but it didn’t. Sigh, what a waste.

Speaking of visuals though (backtracking is a bad habit of mine), I thought Alan Taylor directed the ass off this movie. He got good performances out of everyone (except for Anthony Hopkins who spent every scene waiting to leave the set and go home), and the movie looked amazing! That scene with the hammer that you mentioned is one of roughly a kajillion moments that really add texture and fun to the movie. The way that little bits of dirt or rubble would fly up when people hit the ground, the chunks of armor breaking off, the use of geography in the action scenes, and the final battle’s use of a cool plot centric gimmick without going overboard with it were astounding. It all made the movie feel very physical, which is crazy for a movie about elves in spaceships with laser guns.

D-Rock: I completely agree with you on Alan Taylor’s direction. With this being his first high-budget feature outside of Game of Thrones, it shows a lot of confidence from the filmmaker. We rarely see a debut this strong right out the gate. When Marvel wanted epic, aiming for a Game of Thrones alumni was a great call. The battles were solidly executed with great coverage. The realms outside of Asgard felt like a genuine place, and Asgard itself came to life. Even the finale I enjoyed because it reminded me of the videogame Portal. You can tell Joss Whedon had his fingerprints on various key sequences, but overall Taylor brought some hardcore epic direction to this movie in certain scenes. I can’t wait to see what the guy does next.

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Lux: It was SO MUCH LIKE PORTAL! That hadn’t occurred to me. Now I’m smiling, and imagining Portal ft. Thor. It’s so awesome. To wrap things up I feel obligated to mention that this movie really feels like its pushing Marvel into exactly where the studio wants to be. It’s genre bending in a way that is narratively consistent. I know I’ve harped on that aspect a lot, but people with magic and swords fight against enemies with laser guns. That’s the exact aesthetic Marvel needs, a totally malleable one that can fit all sorts of excellent types of action. I’m pretty proud of the studio for sticking with a pretty balls to the walls script and really making it work. Every time I see a Marvel movie I just get that much more hyped up for the next one. Dark World was no exception.

Oh also this movie had so many quality laughs, good on Marvel for realizing how important that is for a solid blockbuster movie. There’s a reason why die hard and lethal weapon are two of the best action movies ever made and it’s not because there’s so much murder. It’s because the films are able to keep things light even when the setting gets dark. Dark World is able to break the tension and reset it impeccably well (props Joss I know that’s your area of expertise). Just another positive about this movie. AND CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON IS IN IT! How weird is that!?

D-Rock: As I said from the start, I had a great time, but small things prevented me from actually loving this film. Most of the humor that was thrown in from Earth felt out-of-place and forced. Not to mention it felt like a huge distraction from how great this film could have been. They could have kept a storyline closer to Askard, and kept a lot of unnecessary moments from halting the magical moments in the film. However, the humor was solid and even characters such as the one played by Kat Dennings had lines that hit exactly how they should have. I still disliked her character though.

Overall, my positives completely outweigh my negatives for this Thor: The Dark World. As Mike said, this completely pushes Marvel exactly where they’re supposed to go. One of the major points from Marvel is they wanted to expand into intergalactic territory, which this movie stunningly accomplishes. I said in the past, it’s crazy to think this all began in 2008 with Iron Man and that first glimpse of Nick Fury. We truly have something special with these Marvel movies that is unmatched by anyone working in Hollywood. Now, hurry up and bring on ROCKET RACCOON!

[fresh_video url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npvJ9FTgZbM”]

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About the Author

John "D-Rock" Dotson
is a film critic and film-maker from Dallas, Texas. He attended Midwestern State University where he received a Bachelor's in Business Administration in the field of Marketing. He's a huge lover of all things cinema... except The Last Airbender. Follow him on Twitter @DRockDot
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