on December 3, 2013
[Caveat: I have to confess that I'm a huge fan of the Marvel Thor mythology and have read the comics off and on through the years ever since I was a kid. I state that upfront so you understand that my review of this film is viewed through that lens. However, I still feel the film is fun and entertaining for everyone even if you're not that familiar with the character. There are at least three or four things in this film that are worth the price of admission alone.]
I can't imagine that a fan of the character Thor would be disappointed with this film. It builds on all the elements that Kenneth Branagh established in the first film and ups the ante across the board. Everything is bigger: the battles, the cast, the sets, the visual effects, the soundtrack, the entire scope. The costumes are amazing. I wish they looked this good the first time around. And Asgard is incredible. Alan Taylor has brought the eternal realm to life in a way that Branagh did not. It is still majestic but it feels much more real and actually "lived in".
Further, the actors from the first movie have really grown into their roles. Hemsworth and Hiddleston in particular are the very embodiment of their characters. Hiddleston has much more material to work with from an actor's perspective with regards to Loki - a tormented and duplicitous soul - but he's so good at it. Whereas Hemsworth plays the cocksure Thor in a much more understated fashion. Thor is not complex but has a big heart. Bringing him to life requires subtlety and Hemsworth nails it. Neither actor oversells their role. Not only that, they have tremendous chemistry with each other and every scene in which they are together steals the show. As a fan who realizes how horribly wrong these movies could've gone with such an outrageous premise, I am so grateful that Marvel found these two actors to play the most vital parts of the story.
The creators of the film version of Thor had a difficult choice integrating into the universe and tone that Favreau established in the first Iron Man. In the comics, there's magic and there's sci fi and other dimensions and all that stuff and you just accept it. In the reality-based technology-centric world Iron Man created, how do you introduce a viking god from space who soars around with a magic hammer? In fact, Favreau even admitted he had no idea how it could be done. However, Branagh did find a way and he did it by emphasizing the science fiction aspects of the mythology Jack Kirby and Stan Lee concocted 50 years ago. Taylor now had the unenviable job of taking that idea and running with it without it falling apart at the seams. In my opinion he succeeded. The result is Dark Elves in space ships. It's a bizarre mix and maybe a lot of people won't get it. But it feels like a comic book sprung to life and I loved it.
The only legitimate complaint that I feel this movie deserves is that at times it feels too compressed. (However, I also felt that way about the first film.) It's amazing that for such a short run time The Dark World truly does feel epic, but there's so much going on in this story between Earth and Asgard and the other realms that things don't always get enough time to breathe. I believe this strategy of Marvel is to keep moving the story forward at a brisk pace for the grander scheme of things while maintaining the widest possible appeal for a broad audience - but I'd like to them to linger a little more in a juicy chapter like this. I think even 5 or 10 minutes of added scenes could've put this film over the top and helped flush out certain characters' motives and let you feel more attachment to them. Alan Taylor has said it was very difficult for him to cut out several scenes and is the first Marvel director who has said he'd be keen on doing a Director's Cut. Boy would I love to see that!
Things I liked about The Dark World:
* Character arc of Thor - Thor is growing wiser and shrewder but still retaining his bravado. The lessons he experienced in the first film have made him question things more in this one. His relationship with Odin ebbs and flows like real life and in this film we see that father and son are not so different from each other. In the end Thor makes a surprising choice that mirrors his actions from the comics.
* Character arc of Loki - Loki finds redemption - or does he? His motives are always ambiguous and questionable and he certainly is headed on a darker path. However, the events that unfold here give you more insight into who he is and why he does the things he does
* The funeral scene - Not wanting to spoil things here but you'll know it when you see it. Amazing.
* Sci-fi/fantasy mashup - Star Wars meets Lord of the Rings. The comics was always a weird juxtaposition of seemingly incongruous ideas and this film embraces it and it works.
* Algrim the Kursed - wow! This guy is scary.
* Fun plot twists - Loki isn't the only trickster in this film!
* Thor and Jane Foster make a cute pair - others may disagree but their romance to me is very innocent and sweet and I feel she plays the starry eyed scientist bit to a tee. It's not a huge part of the film but their scenes work and it helps humanize Thor and keep him connected to Earth. I also am very old fashioned and I love how gallantly protective Thor is of Jane and I love that she is equally protective of him.
* Creative battle scenes - especially the last one which produces some ridiculous situations and leave's Thor's hammer Mjolnir VERY confused!
* A healthy dose of humor injected to keep the film from ever taking itself too seriously but not overdone
* Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig - you see that Tony Stark is not the only one impacted by the events of Avengers. This man is a genius but Loki's mind games have really messed him up. Even so Skarsgård is a tremendous actor and really sells it. I enjoyed his part of the story and how he unravels the mystery of the convergence despite his mental state.
Bottom line this film is fun escapism ala Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Don't expect poignant existential validation or heavy handed political commentary. This film is a good time. It's also an exciting chapter in a much larger story that is the MCU. Enjoy the ride!
on January 2, 2014
I loved this movie, but I'm very disappointed that there is no Blu Ray + DVD combo, only a single disc blu ray. For those of us that still collect blu rays, many of us enjoy the dvd to play in the car or on a lap top. I'm hoping this is not a trend for future Marvel Cinematic Universe films.
If you would have told me in 2010, that a Shakesperean director, a hunky Australian, and a tall British TV actor would craft a hugely popular and profitable franchise centered around the Nordic gods...I would have asked what you were smoking. Today, it is clear that Marvel, under the lead of Kevin Feige, has crafted a winning formula that clearly works. The keys to Marvel's box office success include their careful building, relatable characters, and the fact that they are not afraid to mix genres, AND have fun while doing all of it. Thor 2: The Dark World follows this formula to a T (a big T, shaped like a hammer...). But that doesn't matter, because as I said before, the formula WORKS.
Well, not ALL of it works. The scientific mumbo-jumbo (courtesy of Portman and Skarsgard) is, quite frankly, embarrassing, and while Christopher Eccleston's Malekith may look like the badass lovechild of Nosferatu and Legolas, he's far from a compelling villain. This is not to mention a certain Deux ex Machina that rather staggers disbelief.
But enough of cons! Thor 2, headed by the gritty sensibilities of Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones), takes the world built by Kenneth Branagh, and ups the stakes, the chemistry, and the characters to new heights! It takes place in a fully realized and visually stunning world (look out for Iceland doubling as the realm of the dark elves), but never loses it's fantastic touch. Chris Hemsworth is (quite literally, erm) solid as Thor, but it is his supporting cast are the true scene stealers. Tom Hiddleston's devilishly good Loki is a highlight; scheming, tricking, and lying his way through the movie, all with a glint in his green eyes and an air of sarcasm. Thor 2 would not be half of what it is without Hiddleston. It's refreshing to see some brains instead of brawn in a superhero movie.
Another reason to to thank the gods is the expanding of Idris Elba's (that awesome charisma machine) character Heimdall, who, if not managing to *cancel* the apocalypse, at least delays it until further notice. Anthony Hopkins is gravely overqualified, but who cares - it's Hopkins and he's always excellent. Jamie Alexander, Rene Russo, and Natalie Portman each out-do their previous performances, and Kat Dennings is still absolutely hilarious. This is the most female-centric Marvel movie yet.
The action, including a dazzling aerial fight in Asgard, a brutal battle in an Asgardian prison, a twisty, unpredictable corker of a double-cross in the dark world, and a visually stunning and often hilarious climax of a battle...is some of the best I have seen Marvel put forth yet. It was always riveting and much appreciated.
In conclusion, Thor 2 sticks very closely to the tried-and-proven Marvel formula, meaning that there are some glitches and cliches. But on the whole, this is the best Marvel movie since The Avengers, and one of Marvel's best (certainly outpassing IM2, IM3, THOR, and HULK). Leave your brain at the door and enjoy. Thor 2 is a triumph. 4.5 convergences out of 5!
PS: As a total Norse mythology nut, I absolutely LOVED the mentions to Svartalfaheimr, Yggdrasil, and Midgard. I definitely recommend checking out the original myths; it makes the work Marvel has done so much more worthwhile! Cheers!
on January 8, 2014
First off, I have to say that if you're looking for solid science in this movie, you're barking up the wrong tree and should buy yourself some Stephen B. Hawking and let the rest of us just enjoy a rip-roaring fun movie. The reviews that called to task the science in "Thor: The Dark World" just make me laugh. After all, this is a Marvel Universe movie, one in which a gamma irradiated scientist turns into a green monster when he's mad and in which a super soldier can sleep in ice for decades and wake up to rock spandex and a shield. Who cares if Jane and Erik Selvig spout nonsense? I mean, come on, can you honestly say you know what would happen if a bunch of dark elves decide to return the universe to darkness? No? Right, so let's move on shall we. "Thor: The Dark World" kicks cinematic butt, picking up where "The Avengers" left off with Thor putting out fires across the 9 Realms and Loki being kicked to the curb...er, dungeon...for trying to subjugate us poor Midgardians. When Jane Foster -- who is understandably bummed because her man didn't call even when he was in New York (really, Thor, you couldn't have checked in after the schwarma date with the other Avengers?) -- stumbles on this cool looking red stuff that The Big Bad Dark Elf Malekith wants, it sets in motion the events that lead to Thor forming a complicated alliance with Loki. That alliance is at the heart of the movie and provides the most riveting scenes. Good friends in real life, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston know Thor and Loki respectively, inside and out, and give them depth and texture that in many ways make the Marvel Thor series the richest in terms of characterization. In particular, Hiddleston's Loki is psychologically complex and sympathetic while never losing his essential mischievousness. Loki is one of the most compelling villains in modern cinema thanks to Hiddleston. In "Thor: TDW," Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings also shine, providing much of the comedy. Other high points of the movie are the look of Asgard and the rousing original score by Brian Tyler. There's a lot to love in this movie. Just don't expect a science class...
on January 11, 2014
I really enjoyed the movie itself, it was a great addiction to the Marvel Universe. But why no blue-ray and DVD combo? That's makes no sense.
on January 6, 2014
I can't stand when movie studios try to cheap out and strip movie combo sets down. This set only contains the 3D blu-ray + 2D blu-ray + Digital Copy. No DVD. Why? If you go to Amazon.ca (Canada) if you don't know, They have a 3 disc set for this movie. 3D blu-ray + 2D bluray + DVD + Digital Copy. Why is Disney releaseing different sets in different markets. It's lame. Im sure they make enough money from these movies, they can throw the DVD and still make crap loads of money. Currently this is listed at $27.99 and in Canada it's listed at $39.99, my hope is it will drop down in price when it is finally released. I'd rather have the 3 disc myself.
on November 6, 2013
Thor: The Dark World is, in short, a hit. With a new and different threat, the battle takes place behind the lines, in wastelands, and on metropolis Earth, rather than the cold world and small town scene of the first film. Trickery, subtlety, and cunning take the place of brute force this time, and it's a good direction to take.
The characters, for the large part now established, were furthered well. Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) was played well, but could have spoken up a great deal more near the end. It should have been more shocking when he finally spoke English, in fact I don't recall the exact moment he started.
The action in this film was great, but skipped a few beats at times, which is forgivable this time with Loki's interchanges with Thor. Marvel did meet my expectations with intermittent comedy, once again. This sequel was full of it, and each time it was written and performed very well, and got a laugh from the whole audience.
The movie is family-friendly except for fantasy violence, two moments of direct violence, partial nudity (a character is shown in public on television, but is thankfully censored), and less worrying details seen here. See it in 3D, see it in 2D, either works. 3D doesn't stand out, for better or worse. All in all, Thor: The Dark World is worth seeing in cinemas.
P.S. Stay after all the credits roll, and you'll be doubly rewarded.
I was given early access to see the film by Walt Disney Studios. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions here are my own.
on January 9, 2014
I'm starting this off by saying I came in with very high expectations for this movie and I wasn't let down. I'm a lifelong comic reader and huge fan of Thor and everything Marvel. But, you don't need to be a fanboy to enjoy this movie.
Visual this movie fits into the fantasy realm and is one of the best vfx movies ever. They dive deeper into Asgard and take us to other realms never seen in the movies before. The story is great and has it all and was surprisingly funny,. Plot was rich with twist and turns and a great revelation a the very end straight out the comics. My only complaint was that it could of used a little bit more character development for the villain, Malekith the accursed. In the comics he is one of the most fierce and crazy villains out there and I though the movie could use one more scene to show that before the rest of the story gets going. That complaint aside the actor who played the role was great and Marvel continues to cast great actors for these roles. No one can ever play Thor and Loki again and the chemistry that Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston is amazing. And Anthony Hopkins always delivers.
Overall it's worth the watch for anyone and I found it much better than the first. They've set up this story line to continue making great sequels and I'll continue to fork over my hard earned cash to Marvel.
on February 25, 2014
As others have said -- the movie itself is VERY good. If I were only rating the show itself, I'd give it five stars.
But I have to rate the package as well. And this package is not a five star product. I do not want a Blu-ray/3D pack. I want a DVD/Blu-ray pack, which I thought had kind of become the norm. I don't have a Blu-ray in every room. Or in the vehicle for my daughter.
So until I see the DVD/Blu-ray, I'm afraid I'll have to wait on buying. Which is unfortunate because, as I said before, it's a very good show.
The first Thor film was quite a surprise to me and my wife. I was never into the comics (more of an X-Men and Spider-Man kid growing up) but we borrowed the DVD from a friend who was super into all the MCU movies and insisted we see the individual films that preceded the Avengers. Of the whole lot he lent us, Thor ended up being the surprise favorite (almost edging out Iron Man as my fav Marvel movie at that point). Here was a convincingly realized blend of sci-fi and fantasy that emphasized character relationships over flashy special effects (though it had tons of those too :D ) and starred a hero that was big on heart and easy to root for.
Thanks to a $5 Ticket Tuesday deal at the local cinema, my wife and I happily plunked down the ten bucks it took for her and me to see Thor: The Dark World. How does it stack up to its predecessor?
Honestly, its at least as good if not better than the first! The story goes that a long long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, the Dark Elves led by Malekith (oddly enough, played by my favorite doctor... maybe it was the ears?) wanna kill everything and the Asgardians, led by Thor's grandpa, kick their butts... well, almost. The Dark Elves have this thing called the Aether, basically a big dangerous mass of floating Pepsi, and it can apparently destroy all life, which the Dark Elves wanna use to do just that when the 9 realms align and allow easy (and random, as we'll soon see) travel between the realms. The Asgardians have hidden the Aether and the remaining Dark Elves lay in wait for another chance to strike.
As you may have guessed, the Dark Elves are evil. We also know they're evil because they look scary, they fly around in spaceships that look like ashen golf tees that are apparently coal powered given the soot that pours out of them (btw, how funny is it that I'm writing about elves in coal powered spaceships on December 24th?), they apparently sleep by being suspended from their faces in some HR Giger looking device straight outta Alien, and if one of the Dark Elves wants to become some kinda superwarrior, Malekith cuts open the guy's side, shoves a piece of charcoal in 'em, and turns him into the bass player from GWAR. As I said, they're evil.
Flash forward 5000 years to modern times, and the 9 realms are about to align again, as they do every 5000 years (incidentally, in this film, every planet inhabited with life apparently has the same length year as Earth does). On Asgard, Loki is being locked in prison forever (yeah, we all know how long that's gonna last) and Thor just got back from beating down one of the 9 realms that was rebelling against Asgard and is trying to celebrate with his warrior pals: the viking dude, the raven haired warrior chick who has a crush on him, and that three musketeers guy (now played by Chuck for some reason), but he can't because he's sad about Natalie Portman and misses her.
Back on earth, The scientist who had his mind controlled by Loki in the Avengers is crazy and running around England naked. Also in England is Natalie Portman who is trying to cope with Thor not being around by agreeing to a blind date with Roy from the IT Crowd when Darcy busts in and says they found something weird. Turns out they stumbled on a spot in an abandoned hallway where they can drop whatever they want into the spot and it disappears. What it ends up being is a place where the realms have intersected, creating a portal between dimensions (these portals will hereby be referred to as "plot holes"). To make a way too long summary shorter, Portman falls into a plot hole and finds the floating Pepsi, which absorbs into her body. Thor finds Portman and takes her to Asgard as the Dark Elves start to formulate their attack.
Will Thor manage to get the floating Pepsi out of Portman before its too late? Will Loki get out of jail? Will anyone actually trust him for some reason if he does? Will the Dark Elves use their magic Pepsi to destroy all life, even if that means they apparently die too? Will the plot holes provide many points of convenience for the otherwise impossible situations our heroes will find themselves in? Will ANY of the Asgardian gaurds finally start using guns since every one of their enemies seem to have them? Will the crazy scientist ever find PANTS????
Lest my sarcasm fool anyone, this movie, while fairly ridiculous, is also totally awesome, and I loved every second of it. As convoluted and crazy as some of the plot is, the movie manages to juggle it all pretty well and places it in a universe where this stuff actually seems like it can happen. The humor is abundant but never twee, the fantastic action sequences remind me of what potential the modern Star Wars films could've had if someone other than George Lucas had the creative control, and the strong interpersonal dynamics of the characters (a key strength of the first Thor movie) remain, never getting eclipsed by the great action.
If you hate these kind of comic book flicks, this one absolutely won't change your mind, but if you liked the first Thor, or any of the MCU movies, this is a *very* worthy entry, imho easily beating out Iron Man 2 and 3, as well as Captain America and either of the Hulk movies. Tons of fun! Keep it up, gang, I look forward to Thor 3!