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 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...
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 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 August 4, 2014
Couldn't they have waited to make this one until they found out how big a deal The Avengers was? The characterization of Loki--a character a lot of viewers are quite fond of--is particularly mediocre. Take lessons from Joss Whedon and Kenneth Branagh, writers/producers. They know what they're doing.
The actual villain was not interesting. Jane Foster continues to be boring, and Odin continues to be an ass. I expected better.
However, Mama Frigga was amazing. I'm sure Rene Russo was kind of "What am I doing in a movie like this?" but damn, she was excellent. She should be proud. ^_^
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.