Friday, November 1, 2013

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

It's not summer yet, but Thor 2 is already out, for those of you (and me) who think that one year between Marvel movies is too long. Since this post is actually on time (watched it yesterday!), I kinda feel obliged to give a brief synopsis of the film and to capitalize SPOILER WARNING:

Set shortly post-Avengers (timeline from Thor is two years), Jane stumbles upon and accidentally absorbs the MacGuffinAether, an energy that can convert matter into dark matter. It is also something required by the Dark Elves, who want to devoid the entire universe of light (both literally and figuratively), and the process can only be completed during the Convergence of all nine Realms (which, of course, happens to be now). Thor, who has been on peace campaigns in other Realms, whisks Jane back to Asgard to find a way to rid her of the Aether.

After the Elves attack Asgard (resulting in a poignantly beautiful funeral sequence focused in sending off a character that was only in the first movie for roughly five minutes), Odin locks down Asgard, leading Thor to again whisk Jane away for a cure but this time with the help of Loki, who makes good on his, “there are secret ways into Asgard that even you, with your all-seeing eye, do not even know of, etc.,” line from the first movie.

[I can’t believe I actually remembered that line.]

Even so, the Elves still manage to retrieve the Aether (after an interesting turn of events where Loki is thought to have betrayed Thor in a brutally cool scene), and Loki is stabbed after trying to save Thor. Thor and Jane are stranded, but as the Convergence approaches, the boundaries between the Realms blur conveniently and they make their way back to Earth to prevent the Elves from succeeding in their quest. Long story short (“too late!”), they do succeed with very cool wormhole teleportation and CGI, and Thor returns to Asgard to tell his father about Loki’s sacrifice and that he cannot ascend the throne (not because of Jane, but because he can better serve as protector and peacekeeper to the Nine Realms).

The movie's end heavily hints at what we can expect to see in Thor 3, and it's something I'm very, very much looking forward to. A more spoiler-rampant post can be found here (in my other blog).

And for credits scenes linking to other Marvel movies, fret not, for Phase II-related material comes midway through (like The Avengers). If you do stay for the entire length of the end-credits, you will not be disappointed at any lack thereof, but that scene is more shwarma-like than anything.

Chris Hemsworth can do no wrong in my book (no, not even Snow White And The Huntsman), and he’s able to project the kind of maturity and wisdom that would be expected from Thor in this Phase of time. There’s less of that good-natured big baby adorableness, though, since much of the action happens on his home turf. And as expected, Tom Hiddleston (as Loki) steals every scene he’s in. Adding to my burgeoning interest in the character (you can never go wrong with the God of Mischief), the film explores another facet to Loki by including quite a bit of scenes with his adoptive mother, Frigga (played by Rene Russo). Apparently, there were supposed to be scenes of Hiddleston and Russo in Thor (Frigga’s favourite is Loki, it seems!, but they weren’t included in the final cut, so I’m really glad we got to see this in Thor 2.

Previously, what we’ve seen between Thor and Loki is rage and disgruntlement (more on Loki’s side), but in this movie Loki seems to have resigned himself to taunting/teasing Thor when they’re together, and this leads to very funny exchanges between Hemsworth and Hiddleston. It is also these scenes (humourous or otherwise) where both Hemsworth and Hiddleston shine, as there's always that parry-and-thrust relationship between them.

The other players deliver solid performances (Natalie Portman is not ditzy like she was in the first movie, thank goodness), but Anthony Hopkins seems a bit bored this time around (maybe due to lack of Branagh). Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgaard (including newbie Jonathan Howard) provide ample comic relief without overdoing it too much, though Dennings's character is walking very close to over-exposure.

Visually, the movie is gorgeous, and again, a few minutes of seeing Asgard and I think to myself that I should’ve seen this in 3D (although, post-conversion movies tend to be no different than regular-D). Thankfully, in Asgard and some of the Nine Realms (and not Earth/Midgard; at least the scenes on Earth without Thor weren’t too long) are where much of the action is, so it would be more worth the 3D ticket price than the first film. More space is good.

[Green Lantern, if you get a sequel, please take note.]

Apart from the funeral send-off, props also go to the scene where Heimdall (played by Idris Elba) takes out a cloaked Dark-Elf ship, only to have the mother ship rise up behind him and launching a few more smaller ships towards Asgard.

Plot-wise, it's run-of-the-mill, but overall, Thor: The Dark World is a fantastic next step in Phase II, and I'm quite surprised to see it released in November (not that I'm complaining). Can't wait to see what comes next for our Norse Gods-cum-aliens. 8/10.

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