in Review

Thor: The Dark World

If you refer back to my Iron Man 3 review, you’ll remember that my biggest problem with that movie was that it just felt unnecessary in a post-Avengers world. Tony Stark had joined a team and while he wouldn’t be hanging out with them all the time, a worldwide terrorist plot involving an attack on the president didn’t feel right as a one-man operation. Thor doesn’t have that problem. He is so much bigger and more powerful than everyone else he can take on much greater foes on his own than as part of a team. So, since every super hero movie is about destroying the world now, Thor: The Dark World puts the whole universe in the balance.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has been busy proving himself in all nine realms of existence, fighting in wars to the hopes that his dad, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), will recognize his worthiness. As you remember, Thor’s being groomed to replace his dad, even though it’s not really clear if Odin is actually aging and needs to retire or if it’s just an arbitrary thing. Anyway, Thor’s having a great time with his Asgardian friends, Loki’s in jail, and things are just great.

Meanwhile on Earth, Jane Foster (NatPo) is in London on a date with Chris O’Dowd, because that guy in the non-threatening sort of shlub that could just never compare to Chris Hemsworth’s musculature. Their crappy date is interrupted by Kat Dennings, who says they should check out this thing. They go there and Jane accidentally gets exposed to a source of infinite evil power from before the beginning of the universe and simultaneously releases the dark elves who need that to end the universe.

You can guess where it goes from there: Thor takes Jane to Asgard, it’s fun, they fight the bad guys a few times, the stakes are raised, etc. This is a surprisingly epic movie, but it manages to make it work without just filling the screen with destruction, like Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel did. There are armies in Thor: The Dark World, but most of its battles come down to just a handful of powerful people wrecking each other, and it’s awesome.

We get space ship battles, people fighting with laser guns and swords, giant monsters, and plenty of sweet, sweet lightning. Despite the Thor’s legit mythological roots (and whatever the comics are actually like) this feels a lot more like they couldn’t decide if they wanted to make a Star Wars movie or a Lord of the Rings movie, so they just made both. It’s pretty sweet.

The first Thor movie, in my memory, worked like this: exposition and fighting for a few minutes, then it’s a comedy for like half the movie, the Thor beats the shit out of everybody right before the ending. I was about it, because the fish-out-of-water stuff was pretty amusing. This movie is heavy on jokes too, but they’re not nearly as fun – a lot of it is Kat Dennings being shticky and Stellan Skarsgard destroying his credibility. I wasn’t groaning or anything, but, really, did Kat Dennings need to be a big part of this franchise? I would much rather learn more about Thor’s still underdeveloped Asgardian friends.

Speaking of undeveloped, Thor and Jane are really, really in love with each other. Like Thor’s depressed he can’t be with her and willing to throw everything away for her in love. Because, you know, they got along for a couple days two years ago. Neither Thor movie does a lot to make the relationship seem anywhere near as important to the audience as it is to the characters, and you just kind of have to accept it.

Anyway, I had a surprisingly good time watching Thor: The Dark World. The trailer for the new Captain America movie looks pretty cool too, a fun take on the spy thriller genre, mixed with ridiculous super hero action. I like that the Marvel super hero movies all feel different and take on different things, for me it’s really kept them from getting stale. I know that’s not the case for a lot of people. But fantasy + sci fi + hitting dudes with hammers? That’s a good time.