Friday, November 8, 2013
.... because, let's face it, Tom Hiddleston's Loki is likely the biggest draw and Marvel Studios knows it. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I just returned from "Thor: The Dark World" and while it is not a perfect movie by any means, I had a perfectly good time viewing it, in spite of the full bladder I held in throughout most of the flick (I need to learn not to drink that large soft drink an hour before I sit down in the theater). As much as I enjoyed the first "Thor", it was mostly an okay movie saved by by Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. It had a lot of problems with pacing, essential scenes being left on the cutting room floor, Jane Foster and her sidekicks feeling like pointless add-ons just to name a few. Most of that is corrected in this installment, now with "Game of Thrones"' own Alan Taylor at the helm.
For starters, the polished and clean Asgard is gone. Whereas last time the set was so clean, you could eat off every inch of it, this time Asgard felt like a real place where these people lived and worked instead of a sterile sound stage. It was nice seeing more of the city, it all really came to life... and thank god because it made the Viking Funeral sequence more powerful because of it.
Jane Foster... didn't annoy me as much this time. She didn't feel as forced. I know, I'm shocked. I could have done with less of Darcy and her intern, but they did get some laughs out of me. I still would have traded them for more of Sif and the Warriors Three... but it is my understanding that Jaimie Alexander broke her back at one point during filming which is why Sif disappears from the story about halfway through the movie. But they introduced the notion of Sif being jealous of Thor's infatuation with Jane, and I hope they play that up more in the next movie.
Once again Chris Hemsworth owns the role of Thor. I don't think I need to say that he continues to be majestic in the role, because while not everybody has seen the first "Thor", everybody on Midgar has seen "The Avengers". Thor has learned the lessons of the first movie, and is humble and honorable while still appropriately proud.
I don't believe I am mistaken when I say that Tom Hiddleston as Loki is, by this point, as essential to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark (and don't think Marvel doesn't know it now). I first saw the signs at the 2011 New York Comic Con when, during the Avengers movie panel (which I was in the room for), 90% of the questions from the audience were directed at Hiddleston (while Chris Evans, Clark Gregg, Mark Ruffalo, Cobie Smulders), to Loki becoming a sex symbol when "The Avengers" came out (something I never saw coming in my 20+ years reading the character in comics) to his in-character appearance at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con when I swear the thousands of people in that room would have kneeled. His scenes (most of them with Hemsworth) are among the best in the movie, and as usual, you can tell that Hiddleston relishes the role... and he fooled me at a key moment, like any good trickster should.
Rene Russo as Frigga was the surprise for me, I won't say too much, but I appreciated her role here since she is, for all intents and purposes, what set the story into motion.
Unfortunately, Christopher Eccleston as Malekith the Accursed is, without a doubt, the most underdeveloped villain in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. As I understand it, a lot of his material wound up on the cutting room floor (which also happened to Loki in the first movie... but didn't cripple the character), so Malekith comes off less than a character and more as an obstacle to be overcome. He is the film's weakest link, but not a crippling one because, well, is there anyone in the world who is going to see this movie to see Malekith? I know that "Doctor Who" is huge in the nerd community, and the fact that one of the Doctors was in this movie barely seemed to register with any geek I know. He wasn't horrible, nor was he great. Malekith was.... adequate.
The action was mostly good, but the final battle against Malekith was a bit lackluster. Again, not horrible, but... acceptable. I was more excited by the fleeting glimpses we got at the other realms than Thor defeating Malekith. I thought the assault on Asgard as well as the battles on Svartalfheim were better than the Battle of London.
My overall grade for the movie would have to be a B+. I liked it a lot, I had a great time, and it was great fun. And, quite frankly, I needed to have a great time with the Marvel Cinematic Universe after being let down by the imbecilic "Agents of SHIELD". At the end, we were promised that Thor would return, and I look forward to seeing his next cinematic adventures in "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and beyond.