Friday, November 15, 2013

Theatrical Review: Thor- The Dark World

Day: Thursday, November 14
 Location: Cinemark Theater in Stroud Mall
Time: 1:25pm
Party: 3 (my mom & my movie-going/book series lovin' aunt)

Director: Alan Taylor
Type: Marvel comic action/adventure

Length: 112 minutes (+6 trailers)

Thor- Chris Hemsworth
Jane Foster- Natalie Portman
Loki- Tom Hiddleston
Malekith- Christopher Eccelston
Darcy- Kat Dennings
Ian- Jonathan Howard
Sif- Jaimie Alexander
Heimdall- Idris Elba
Dr. Eric Selvig- Stellan Skarsgard
Odin- Anthony Hopkins
Frigga- Rene Russo
Richard- Chris O'Dowd

Program Notes:

Coincidentally, the next movie on my countdown is "Avengers." Stay tuned for when I go up the wall with that one 8-)
We've also made plans to see the next "Hunger Games," not this Sunday, but the following one.


It's been a long time since I'd seen so many previews before a movie. While thrilling, after a while, it ran a little too long. Lots of great stuff, though.

1. the sequel to "Captain America"

The first few seconds, I saw what looked like a red-headed Scarlet Johannson and before I could manually connect the dots, there was Captain America.
The scale of this movie looks enormous and with the two of them together... just WOW, cannot wait for this one.

2. "Delivery Man"

It's common knowledge that when a studio isn't promoting its own brand, the accompanying trailers are up & coming. The trailers make this Vince Vaughn movie look really good... and part of me secretly hopes that's not a farce

3. a remake of "Robo-Cop"

I saw the original very briefly years ago. Everyone will take a remake as they do. I likely won't invest unless I hear good things or there's nothing on on HBO.

4. Jack Ryan- Shadow Recruiter

I saw the movie poster on IMDB. After Chris Pine came on screen, the pieces fell into place really easy. Looks like an exciting movie... which reminds me... I have yet to see any of the on-screen incarnations of this Tom Clancy character.

5. The Hobbit- Desolation of Smaug

Obviously we're going to see this in December. My mom went nuts when Legolas (Orlando Bloom) appeared on screen, but I'm in the same boat.

6. Hunger Games- Catching Fire

Another amazing trailer for the movie... makes me hope they haven't given all the visuals away by this point with the amount of promotion.


Considering this was a weekday and the movie had been out for quite a while, I was surprised how many people showed up. At least 100. Not a lively audience, though there was a few rare moments of universal hilarity.

and yes there are spoilers attached...

I'm not the best with Marvel terminology, so I won't go into a ridiculous amount of detail.

We begin with a flashback. A race of beings known as Dark Elves, led by Malekith, wanted to destroy the life and re-envelope the world in darkness. At their disposal was a mysterious dark element known as Aether (pronounced "ether").
They almost got away with it, if it hadn't been for Odin's father, who stealed the casket of Aether away with help of his troops. Meanwhile, Malekith allowed most of his people to die in battle, insisting their sacrifice was necessary for him and his second-in-command to one day exact revenge.

Simple enough, right?

Fast-forward to the present.

Loki is given a life sentence in prison for his actions in "The Avengers." If it wasn't for Odin's wife, Frigga, he would have been executed for treason.

Thor and his comrades are restoring peace to the other realms, perhaps in an attempt to undo what damage Loki had caused. All the while, he is missing Jane and wants to be with her, but Odin more or less puts his foot down because she's just another mortal in his view.

When we finally get to Jane, we see her on possibly the most awkward date imaginable. Her date also happens to be that Irish dude from "Bridesmaids." (For me, it means my second "helping" of Chris O'Dowd at the movies this year, though providing a voice in "Epic" doesn't count for quite as much).
Lucky for her, her intern, Darcy shows up to bring new findings to her attention.

We also find out that Dr. Selvig kinda lost his mind after the there-after dubbed "battle of New York." He looked perfectly sane when Loki's trance was broken, but... well, Tony Stark suffered from PSTD after "Avengers" so I guess it's not too hard to believe.
Between this movie and "Mamma Mia," it seems that Stellan Skarsgard has an issue with wearing pants in his movies. He was found streaking at Stone Hedge, raving his new theories like a lunatic and was promptly thrown into the loony bin.

Through the course of the movie, the characters keep referring to a universal event known as "The Convergence" where the 9 realms will come into alignment. This is happening for the first time since Thor's grandfather's time.

Jane, Darcy, and Darcy's new intern, Ian, come to a site in London where there's unusual phenomena taking place. Particularly at the center of staircases in a building where you throw some things down and they reappear at the top of the shaft... some things don't come back, for whatever reason.

Going on her own, Jane gets sucked into a wormhole and somehow comes in contact with Aether that'd been buried underground for centuries.
You can say "curiosity killed the cat" and you'd almost be right... me, I'm watching this, thinking that Jane Foster was just an idiot for getting herself in this situation in the first place. As if she's nothing more than a damsel in distress, as most superheroes' girlfriends typically are.

After going to a few parties, Thor spends his time moping in the company of Heimdall, Asgard's gate-keeper. When Jane disappears into the Aether, Heimdall is astonished that he'd lost track of her, seeing as Thor's come to him periodically to watch her from above.

By the time Jane returns, the authorities had arrived and Thor is there as well.
For a fine "how do you do," she slap him twice. Once to make sure he's real and twice for not seeing her during "The Avengers".
(My response: "sorry, dude, but Tony Stark was the only dude who had on-screen time with his girlfriend in that movie"... unless you count Black Widow & Hawkeye as a "couple").

So apparently, the Aether got into Jane and when people try to touch her at times of stress, they get thrown away from her with excessive force. Thor takes it upon himself to take her to Asgard to remedy the situation.
Odin is not pleased and Asgard falls under siege of "invisible" invaders Heimdall was unable to see.

Malekith turned his second-in-command into a stone creature who went into the dungeon to free all the prisoners.... except Loki :-P
And sadly, Frigga is killed while protecting Jane from capture. For whatever reason, the Dark Elves decide to take their leave at this point, deciding not to rip the place apart to find her. There's a great funeral ritual for her and the fallen of the invasion. Loki is given word of her death and despite how he wanted nothing to do with Odin or Thor, he didn't take that well at all. (Aww, he does have a heart after all).

Thor and his comrades soon concoct a plan to get Jane out of Asgard to protect the realm from any further damage... quite the elaborate plan, but somehow, it all works out just as imagined.

1. The Bi-Frost was destroyed in "Thor," so they need another route out of Asgard. Because Loki is the only one who knows it, Thor needs to let him out of jail.

2. Thor and Loki have to navigate the corridors undetected to find Jane. (A lot of great laughs here as Loki tries on different disguises, one of them being a great spoof/cameo of Captain America)

3. Thor, Loki and Jane must take one of the fallen Dark Elves' spaceships to make their escape... and it isn't without resistance.

When in the Dark Elves' realm, they hatch a plan for the Aether to taken back from Jane and they destroy it.
The second part of that doesn't go well... let's just say I could have sworn I heard all the Loki fangirls crying out at once...

Somehow, Thor and Jane find a wormhole (where she gets excellent cell reception with Chris O'Dowd... and we find where all the missing items went) back to earth.
Dr. Selvig was busted out of the psych ward (Stan Lee makes a great cameo in one of those scenes) by Darcy and Ian. So all of them put their heads together to come up with a plan for when the Dark Elves come to Greenwich for the Convergence.

The final battle comes and goes, lasts for a substantial length of time, Thor and Malekith battle one another through all the realms... and obviously, the good guys win.

Thor has a chat with Odin, which sounds like him abdicating his birthright to the throne... and we might not have seen the last of Loki (fan girls rejoice!)

Character Highlights and So On

I'm getting more versed with the Marvel universe all the time and I doubt I'll ever be able to wrap my head around it completely.

My mom and aunt were interested in seeing the movie just for the eye candy that is Chris Hemsworth. There was only one shirtless scene, but they didn't seem to mind.
His degree of maturity greatly surpasses that of "Thor," although he might not be as exacting or calculating as Loki. (See the "escape" scene for that debate).

For me personally... maybe it's because "2 Broke Girls" is one of my favorite shows right now and I only just saw it a few days ago... what can I say? Kat Dennings was a scene-stealer whenever she was on screen. Her dialogue is just so naturally hilarious, as if she wasn't even acting.
It's also kinda cool she bags a potential love interest by the finale.

To her credit, Natalie Portman did the level of scientific ass-kicking she brought to the original and the "damsel in distress" archetype went out the window after a while.

She didn't get a lot of screen time, but Jaimie Alexander as Sif gets to show off how tough she is when the situation calls for it. Yeah, girl power!

Then there's the conundrum of Loki.
It's strange. The first movie where we get to know him, we see him as a master manipulator. He reminded me of a character from "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," Wormtongue, who manipulated the King of Rohan to commit acts very much unlike him.
Then in "Avengers," he was equally as annoying, but at the same time, you knew you couldn't take him seriously and that he was no HUGE threat (unlike his alien allies).

Here, I don't know why, but I found myself gravitating towards him, wanting more screen-time and curious to see how things would play out. Maybe it's because I figured he'd be the least of Thor's problems, considering all the stuff happening, there'd be room to see him be a good ally. If only temporarily.

The Marvel Universe

However big it might be, I'm loving how all the little pieces seem to fit together perfectly. The movies keep on building upon one another, keeping us entertaining while keeping us wanting more.

The first post-credits scene (I did not stick around for the second, but based on the synopsis, I didn't miss too much) shows Sif and one of Thor's comrades returning the Aether to someone who calls himself "The Collector" and says after they leave "one down, five to go." The way he moved around... he was not of this world... to me, he looked like a cross between a magician and a rock star like David Bowie. IMDB says he's in "Guardians of the Galaxy," the next big release from Marvel.
Let's just say that the nerdgasm taking place in my brain was so big, it exploded before it could begin to comprehend anything.

As far as this movie's execution goes, taking into account all the Marvel films so far, it's among the best I'd seen. I came out of the theater, thinking "oh shoot... I think this might have been better than the latest 'Iron-Man' film.'

Let me put it this way (opposed to a crazy-long thesis comparing the two movies):
I find Tony Stark (with & without the suit) more engaging as a character than Thor.
But when it comes to the big picture, this movie was stronger and more consistent from one scene to the next, and better executed.

As a sequel, "Thor- The Dark World" succeeded because there was a natural progression. They upped the ante, but it wasn't so chaotic that it collapsed on itself. You got see more character development that was organic and natural. And of course, the most important part is leaving just enough room for further sequels that the audience would welcome with open arms.

Grade: A


Dan O. said...

Great review Jackie. Not perfect, but definitely better than a lot of other stand-alone Marvel superhero flicks can be, especially one coming right after the Avengers.

Jackie B. said...

Thanks for the comment. I'll leave one on yours as well.