Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I just saw Thor: The Dark World.

Whoever dressed Alexander for the premiere was more daring and imaginative than whoever designed Sif's costume for the movie.

—The general, action-driving plot really seemed like it was still in pre-first draft, "just spit-balling here" form. As I understood it, long, long ago in a Lord of the Rings-style, Anthony Hopkins-narrated prologue, an army of space orcs had gotten their hands on a powerful, existence-ending weapon, but before they could use it, Odin's dad and his army wiped them all out. This one guy was like, "Hey, should we destroy this weapon or something?" But Odin's dad was all like, "No, let's just hide it somewhere no one will ever find it."

Instead of putting it in the Asgard weapons vault where they kept the maguffin from the first Thor movie—The basic plot of the two movies was pretty much identical, right? Ill-defined ancient weapon from their super-viking ancestors falling into the wrong hands?—or even a safety deposit box or a rented storage unit or a high school locker with a combination lock from K-Mart, they just stuck it in the middle of an abandoned warehouse in a dodgy part of London?

And then the weapon gets stuck inside Thor's girlfriend and the space orcs awaken from hibernation and want to get it back and so there's a bunch of fighting.

—Both Thor movies have big, expansive, awesome supporting casts...and little for any of them to do. Renee Russo as Thor's mom has a lot more to do here (I just had to check IMDb to see if she was even in the first movie), as does Idris Elba as Heimdall, but poor Sif (Jaimie Alexander; see above) and the Warriors Three don't have any more to do then they didn't have to do last time. Each gets at least one decent, several seconds-long scene, and Zachary Levi's Fandral gets a few quips, but they're all fairly wasted. Poor Hogun the Grim's entire contribution to the film is telling Thor early on that he's pretty much gonna sit this film out, thanks.

I guess Marvel will have to do a spin-off if The Warriors Three are ever really going to get their due. Given how much people seem to love Tom Hiddleston's Loki, maybe they'll eventually do a Loki or Tales of Asgard movie, just featuring Hiddleston, Sif and the Warriors Three, with Thor and Odin sitting the movie out...?

Ooh, or maybe they could do a Sif and The Warriors Three show on cable? That would certainly be a lot less boring than Agents of SHIELD show looks, right? Marvel meets Game of Thrones, winds up somewhere in the vicinity of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys/Xena: Warrior Princess...?

—I thought the Cursed (Or was it spelled Kursed?) looked pretty dumb. His mask reminded me a bit of the one the Predator wears, which is kinda weird, because the alien runes flashing in the space orc ship look like the red alien writing that appears in Predator ships.

—As with Iron Man 3, and, I suspect, all of the post-Avengers Marvel "Cinematic Universe" films from here on out, this one suffered a bit from leaving unanswered the question of just where the hell the rest of the superheroes were.

I mean, there was a straight-up alien invasion of London, and no one shows up but Thor and two fighter jets? Where was Iron Man? Where was the Hulk? Where was Nick Fury and SHIELD? Once you establish the fact that these guys all know each other and occasionally get together to defend major cities from alien invasions (and repeatedly make reference to that throughout your film), it feels a little...weird when no one shows up to help Thor save London from alien invasion.

—Needed more shirtless Hemsworth.

Yes, he looks good shirtless or in a cape and armor, but he cleans up nice too.

—I liked the creepy white masks the space orc footsoldiers wore. High-five, whoever designed those!

—Pretty much all of the performances were either really good, or rather effective for conveying what little emotional content they were called on to portray.

Hiddleston stole the show; the audience I saw it with laughed at pretty much every line of dialogue he was given. Kat Denning was a definite highlight, and, I think, was to Natalie Portman's Jane Foster what Hiddleston's Loki was to Hemsworth's Thor: Someone more vibrant and engaging you would prefer to see a movie about (Really glad they not only had her return, but gave her more to do this time around).

Portman was good, and gave the movie some star power and all (ditto Anthony Hopkins), but her character seemed almost crowded out of the film. There's just not enough room to explore her character and her character's relationship with Thor, even though that's meant to be the emotional core of the film franchise. Ah well.

I do kinda wish Hopkins wasn't playing Odin though; I would love to see what a Liam Neeson Odin woulda been like.

—The big battle sequence in which the space orcs attack Asgard was pretty awesome. I liked their ships, and the way those ships moved around, and the mixing of the sci-fi and fantasy elements into something that felt appropriate, like if you squinted one eye and titled your head, you could see how all of these figures would have seemed like gods and monsters to some, and if you squinted the other eye and maybe tilted your head the other way, they just seemed like space aliens.

The battle, with its whizzing, rotating space ships that resembled giant flying swords, really reminded me of Star Wars, and the entire sequence had a sort of Star Wars + Lord of the Rings aesthetic and feel to it.

—I think they managed to find an Iron Man-like tone to this film a bit better than in the original. There's a lot of quipping and sarcasm, sure, but there's a light touch to almost everything, including the apocalyptic battle between the forces of light and dark at the end of the film. Despite the serious, even grim title, Thor: The Dark World was fun.

—Thor hanging his hammer on the coat rack was maybe my favorite part of the film. That was the point where I thought, "Yes, this $5 bill and few hours of your life was well spent, Caleb!"

—Stellan Skarsgård nude scene!

How weird is it that for all the gorgeous human beings in this movie that millions of people would enjoy seeing, and happily pay money for the opportunity to see, in various states of undress—Hemsworth and Hiddleston for the ladies, Portman, Denning and Jaimie Alexander for the gentleman—it was Skarsgård who had the only nude scene, and plays  the only character that spent the majority of the film not wearing any pants?

Oh, and let's make sure Denning's character appears in that Thor-less spin-off movie I was imagining earlier, okay?

Honestly, I was kind of hoping for Rocket Raccoon, but I have to admit to being surprised to the point of shock with that particular character appearing. I'm assuming that's setting up something in Guardians of the Galaxy or Avengers 3, but, well, that's just not one of the top, say, 75 Marvel characters I would think to see appearing in a movie in any capacity at all.

The scene is short, but holy smokes it really seemed like part of an entirely different Cinematic Universe than the one all the Marvel Studios films up until this point have shared.


Aki Alaraatikka said...

Well, great that it was better.

doron said...

I think because of the convergence there was a portal in the london projects that opened to the vault where the Aether was hid. The Aether wasn't hidden in the actual projects.

I thought it was a vast improvement over the first one but like you mentioned still had "first draft" parts. I mean you have giant science nails and Thor's hammer and there isn't a part where he hammers them!

SallyP said...

Man, I really do have to go and see this.

Nicholas Yankovec said...

As avid readers of comic books in shared universes, I'm not quite sure we can ask questions like where we're the other superheroes during the battle in London. It's a genre convention!

Besides, Iron Man was left without armour following IM3, and it may have taken the others a considerable amount of time to get to London...

Anonymous said...

Nice to see that there's still a little bit of juice left in this story, as well as these characters, who continue to get more and more interesting and worth watching as each and every movie goes by. Good review Caleb.

Caleb said...

I think because of the convergence there was a portal in the london projects that opened to the vault where the Aether was hid. The Aether wasn't hidden in the actual projects.

Oh, I know; I was being under-generous in my summary. Still, the fact that it was just sitting in a cave without any, like, locks or traps or guards seemed overly convenient, even if the cave is only accessible every however-often-convergences happen...

I mean you have giant science nails and Thor's hammer and there isn't a part where he hammers them!

Oh my God, I didn't even think of that, but yeah, the human scientists were totally hammering their science nails into the ground, why didn't Thor hammer them into the bad guy?

As avid readers of comic books in shared universes, I'm not quite sure we can ask questions like where we're the other superheroes during the battle in London. It's a genre convention!

I think I might have talked about this in regards to Iron Man 3, but these movies are really the first time where that genre convention is being presented to film audiences (sure, we're used to it in comics, but it's pretty new in movies).

It doesn't ruin the movies or anything, but it nags a little bit, especially when they keep bringing it up (my memory is a little hazy, but SHIELD was all over the first THOR movie when all they did was find a hammer, whereas here they have full-scale invasion and they don't show up; on the other hand, I thought the first THOR had too much SHIELD in it, so...)

I mainly just think it's interesting that superhero movies are now popular and many enough that we're now starting to see things in them that are part and parcel to comics (Sam Raimi and company's "run" as the creative team on Spider-Man, the shared universe of Avengers, etc).

Anonymous said...

* My sole gripe was that the GGotG teaser had a completely different (& cheap, frankly) visual aesthetic than the rest of the film. It looked like it was shot with Dr. Who in mind. Its lack of finesse, while in keeping with most of the teasers (like the Whedon one where Nick Fury is showing off the Cosmic Cube), totally showcased the plastic nature of the costuming & makeup, something I didn't notice in the rest of the film.

* Not my sole gripe, actually; I fib. I disliked the mcguffin being called the 'aether'. It was terribly generic. The Cosmic Cube is too comic-booky for film, but the Aether gets a pass? At least The Casket of Ancient Winters has panache.

* I got the Predator vibe too, but the pleasure of having Triple-A strutting around casually swatting the snot out of everyone quelled my qualms.

* What, Thor didn't hammer the final space nail into Eccleston? I'm pretty sure he did.

* "Why are there so many shoes here?" It was adorable how characters kept stumbling into the punchlines of other characters' hijinks.

Anonymous said...

I was incredibly pissed when Hogun was sort of just dropped off in Vanaheim, but held some sort of hope that he'd be returning later on to complete the Warriors Three.

It's hard for me to put into words how upset I was when he did not, in fact, come back.