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Verdict on THOR: THE DARK WORLD? Netflix

Let me start with this: I think THOR (the first movie) was underrated. No, it’s not a great movie, but the performances were solid and there was a human story buried under all that cgi and hammer-swinging. Two brothers, a father disappointed by them both, an heir disinherited and forced to live among common folk where he learns humility, the bond of love and resentment between the brothers… Strip away all the stuff about frost giants and being worthy of Mjolnir, and you have a basic story that anyone can relate to.


In T:TDW, you don’t get any of that. You have a villain trying to destroy the universe with a hidden superweapon that was taken from him, like The One Ring, in a long ago battle. Now the weapon has attached itself to the humblest of creatures, a Jane Foster, and the Big Bad Villain is hunting for her so he can reclaim it.

Except that The One Ring was a ring you could wear that had magic power in it. Everyone has heard of magic rings. In T:TDW the deadly weapon is a cgi liquid that flows through the air like a movie special effect.

And the baddie has to get the weapon in time to use it during The Convergence, when the nine worlds are aligned, and he has to use it in a special place…

Look, I’ve written my share of climaxes that take place at the site of a magic ritual, and the big danger is that the whole thing can seem so arbitrary and artificial. It’s not a conflict between members of a family, it’s a race to stop a guy from doing a thing in a place that looks good on camera.

So, the visuals are cool. The dark elf masks are creepy as hell and Asgard, while not as beautiful as the first movie, is still eye candy.

But where are the complicated relationships? Thor and Loki still have their thing, although it’s evolved to be less complicated than it was.

There’s nothing that hooks the stakes into a real-world concern we can relate to. It’s not an invading army. It’s not lost love (a theme that gets toyed with but not taken seriously). It’s not family drama (seriously, the first THOR could have been moved to a mundane corporate setting without too many changes).

It’s just a bad guy who wants to take the universe back to the state it was in before there was light, which is a thing you can do with magic/superscience floaty liquid, apparently.

Another thing I can’t say I’m fond of is the decision to make the Asgardians and the other members of the Nine Realms aliens. In the comics, Thor is the Thunder God, and what that means cosmologically is whatever the story needs it to mean. He controls the weather, he’s super tough, he comes from a distant place.

In the film the dark elves are given ray guns and space ships with fancy readouts. Yeah, they fight Asgardians with glowing not-light-sabers, but the Asgardians have ray gun anti-aircraft emplacements and flying Viking boats with missile launchers.

It’s a deeply odd set of design choices, especially since the villains have a major advantage with their powerful ranged weapons. Honestly, it would have been better if they’s stuck with magic and pre-gunpowder war-making; Odin would have seemed like less of a tool sending his soldiers into combat with spears and shit.

If you like spectacle, there’s spectacle. Hemsworth, so winningly cheerful in the first film, is mopier here. Yeah, it makes sense that he’s missing Jane but come on. The guy is incredibly charismatic. Let that show. And since this is the spectacle paragraph I’ll mention that he only goes shirtless once, which seems like a missed opportunity.

Anyway, I should have waited for other peoples’ reviews. I wish I had. I liked THOR but THOR: THE DARK WORLD did not live up to expectations.

Mirrored from Twenty Palaces. You can comment here but not there.



( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 9th, 2013 07:19 am (UTC)
It's like we saw different movies! Although I am in total agreement about the shirtless thing. Seriously, superhero clothes get blown to bits all the time, couldn't Thor's armor have taken a little beating so he had to spend the entire last battle sequence shirtless...? :)

(OTOH, the one shirtless shot was as well-designed to cater to what we these days call "the female gaze" as anything I've ever seen. dear god. There was actually a stunned and respectful silence in the theatre for the first few seconds of that...)
Nov. 9th, 2013 10:11 am (UTC)
Wolverine couldn't keep his clothes on, but Thor had to sit in a little car in his armor. Psh.

"Carry these poles around! I'll fiddle with the dials on my Kindle and we'll make movie special effects happen!"
Nov. 9th, 2013 01:34 pm (UTC)
I thought Wolverine's total inability to keep his clothes on was by far the best part of his most recent movie. :)

*laughs out loud* I would like to have a Kindle and poles that did that!
Nov. 10th, 2013 07:00 am (UTC)
I was of the mind that the Asgardians vs the Dark Elves looked like Star Wars or Star Trek had a baby with Lord of the Rings. So much pretty spectacle. I think Kirby would have been pleased at the way magic and science were interchangeable on an almost mythic scale.

Me, I started wondering how an Asgardian goes from being "Random Guy With Spear" to "God of Something."
Nov. 10th, 2013 03:10 pm (UTC)
Strange women lying in ponds distributing hammers?
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )