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A Game of Thorones – Thor: The Dark World

November 8, 2013

thorloki

  1. Hiddleston is still oh so good, proving that quality villainy lies at the core of the best fiction. He’s at that great stage now where he’s like the top heels in professional wrestling: the guys you love to hate. Like an Asgardian Ric Flair or something. “The Dirtiest Player in the Game.” You want to believe that you can trust him, but you know you can’t. And, bless his heart, Loki generates one of the best cameos we’ve seen yet in these movies. People at my screening were practically doing backflips of delight in the aisles.
  2. The story is a bit of a clunker, with the Aether (a fancy word for the Infinity Gem we used to call “Space”) serving as the object of the Dark Elves’ desire. Led By Christopher Eccleston’s Malekith (he has his moments), they go to war with Asgard to return the universe to its original dark state and — you know what? I really have no idea what the hell was going on. Except somehow Natalie Portman got possessed by menstrual blood. And that Thor concocted the dumbest plan in the history of plans to defeat this threat. Let’s take the thing that can destroy the universe to the guy who wants to destroy the universe. WHO’S WITH ME?!?! (Seriously, someone check this dolt’s SATs, because he might not even have spelled his name right.) The whole threat is heavy on the gobbledygook, even for this kind of release.
  3. Fandral is recast here (he’s like Thor’s War Machine), and is now played by Zachary Levi (hey, it’s Chuck!). The character has the same limited screentime as he did in the first, but more is done with it. He’s genuinely Errol Flynn now, dashing and swinging from things. It’s quite delightful.
  4. There are hints of development for the Sif-Thor-Jane love triangle sprinkled early on, but all that fizzles out. One wonders of this was an editing bay sacrifice. I don’t think Portman or Jaimie Alexander exchanged a single line of dialogue, which feels like a missed opportunity. Catfight!
  5. The MCU has been thoroughly (Thor-oughly?) Whedon-ized, for better or worse. The quips come fast and furious, and while they at times lighten the mood, at others they threaten to smother you in smarm. Yes, Thor cramming himself into a car and hanging Mjolnir on a coatrack ooze whimsy (and harken back to the biggest smiles of the Lee-Kirby run), but him riding the Underground to get back to the site of battle is a tad forced. Come on. And one realizes that Kat Dennings is a big TV star now on Two Broke Girls (a show I know mainly from patently unfunny commercials that come on while I’m watching football), but there’s a too-heavy dosage of her wisecracks. Darcy: The Dark World. (In fairness, her unique pronunciation of Mjolnir returns and delivers one of the climax’s best laughs).
  6. Most of Rene Russo in the first Thor was left on the cutting room floor. Poor Frigga. As if some debt is being repaid, she gets nice scenes in this one, and is a lynchpin of the plot (what there is of it). Good for her.
  7. Perhaps the film’s greatest triumph is the full realization of Asgard. The city on a rock in space now feels like a genuine, populated world, with Vikingish tech that fits in just fine with pubs and cloaks. The realm’s defenses are futuristic but elegant, with flying vessels piloted by steering oars — because of course. Even the rebuilt Rainbow Bridge has more detail to it now.
  8. The movie sort of just ends, after a boss fight that we’ve seen a thousand times before. The saving grace? Some inventive material concerning Thor’s hammer, which can’t figure out which way to turn as holes are torn in space and Thor and Malekith yo-yo across the cosmos.
  9. Stay tuned during the credits for a delightfully odd performance teasing a future Marvel offering, as a name actor fuses Andy Warhol, David Bowie and Javier Bardem’s Raoul Silva from Skyfall into weirdness personified. “One down, five to go.” You can see what’s (and who’s) coming a mile away, but that doesn’t make it any less thrilling. May this insanity never end.

Thor: The Dark World is a decent amusement park ride. It lurches and vaults and gives you what you pay for, with a number of excellent performances helping it along the way. You realize as you’re watching what a glorious time it is to love comics and movies, because, my God, look, THERE ARE DARK ELVES THROWING BLACK HOLE GRENADES AT PEOPLE AND HERE COMES ODIN WITH HIS STAFF OF DOOM. Even with the muddled mess of a plot (I mean, just how stupid is Thor?), it turns out okay in the end. We still behold in breathless wonder.

Three (probably more like three and a half, but this viewer just can’t get over how stupid Thor is) rippling God of Thunder triceps out of five:

tris

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