Monday, November 11, 2013

Thor: The Dark World (2013, Theatrical Release)

Thor vs. The Phantom of the Opera
Rating:  4 out of 5 Gravity Grenades Crushing Everything Around It

Review:  What comes to mind with this film is balance.  In my review of the first Thor movie I said it was the most balanced movie of Phase One.  I think this Thor movie will prove to be the most balanced movie of Phase Two.  It has a very satisfying mix of humor, drama and action and they all happen at a relatively decent pace.

  Everything is amped up for the sequel of course which means this movie easily tops the previous one.  However the previous one did have a much different tone which makes it hard to compare them.  Director of Thor Kenneth Branagh, a man of Shakespeare, was trying to tell a more classical story about family.  He says as much on the DVD extras of Thor.  It just happened to be a classical family tale (which he compares to that of Macbeth or Hamlet) that includes massive fight scenes and CGI frost beasts.  This one, helmed by Alan Taylor (mostly a TV director, notably Game of Thrones) takes a much different approach.  There are still elements of family in the movie but I'd be hard pressed to name a theme.  I suppose responsibility could be a theme, conquest could another but as to what each of those might mean on a greater scale I can't tell you.  I pulled those because those things are mentioned or inferred throughout the plot.  The main antagonist is driven to conquer and Thor is driven by responsibility to protect the 9 realms and those he loves.  What this one really delivers on more than it's predecessor is action scenes.  Action scenes and more Kat Dennings.  So I suppose on how much you are interested in either of those things will inform how much you may like the movie.  I thought the action scenes were well done, they are sprinkled evenly throughout the 2 hour run time and the climax in particular is done with a bit of cleverness in how a fight scene can be choreographed.  I really enjoyed the Darcy character in the first one and felt she got shorted on screen time so seeing more of Kat Dennings was a very welcomed opportunity.  I, frankly, enjoyed her character more than Natalie Portman's Jane Foster.

  While we are on the subject of characters I want to be clear that I don't hate Jane Foster and the role is capably handled and well acted but there isn't the subtly or quirkiness to Jane as there was in the first movie that made her more well rounded and "real" feeling.  In the first movie she was also a much more compelling character.  In this movie I was a bit saddened that they kept her alive throughout the whole thing.  Her character would have been much more compelling as a third act martyr but, as harsh as that sounds, I enjoyed the performance.  Chris Hemsworth brings it as Thor again, about the same as any performance of his.  He seems to be taking it seriously and having fun, he puts in a really solid performance.  A performance that is a bit more nuanced than previous outings which shows some character growth from Thor, through Avengers, to now.  It feels like Thor has grown pretty organically, other than the rapid character progression in act 3 of the first Thor.  Anthony Hopkins puts in a fantastic performance as Odin, something he could easily phone in he really puts his all into.  Idris Alba revels in the extended role for Heimdall as does Jaimie Alexander in the extended Sif role.  But the real showstopper has to be Tom Hiddelston's Loki.  Which, of course it is.  There's really not much more to say about it, he seems to really love the character and is a joy to watch every time he steps up.  Everyone puts it a great performance but I will just mention Stellen Skarsgard, Christopher Eccelston, The Warriors Three and Rene Russo since I already mentioned pretty much everyone else.  I'd hate to criticize them through a lack of mention.  Christopher Eccelston especially took a role that could have been easily done very poorly and added some needed depth while keeping the villain imposing.

  There really isn't much more to talk about.  The performances are solid, the action scenes are fun, the pacing is good, there's character growth(for the most part) and the special effects are really well done.  It's a really solid, fun movie, a great addition to the Marvel movie franchise and a worthy follow up to the original Thor.

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