Nov 4, 2013

[Movies] Thor: The Dark World (2013)

In the Marvel movie universe, at times Thor feels a little like the red-headed stepchild in the corner. As much as Thor is canonically known to be one of the founding members of the Avengers, he's not exactly one that a heck of a lot of people love. And a big part of the challenge of liking Thor is the fact that he's supposed to be a mythological god figure - not exactly the kind of character that people can immediately relate to.

But since Thor appears in the Avengers movies, then he has to continue to develop in his own independent movies, as appears to be the case for all major characters there. And so we now have a sequel - one that had its share of good and bad moments but on the whole just didn't feel quite as amazing as I'd have liked it to be. Of all the Marvel movies that have come out in recent years, I think the Thor movies are definitely among the weaker ones (not counting the prior Hulk movies).

But hey, it could have been much, much worse.

Synopsis: Thor: The Dark World is the 2013 sequel to the 2011 Thor movie that continues to follow the adventures of the Asgardian thunder god. The movie was directed by Alan Taylor with a screenplay by Christopher Yost, Christopher Marcus, and Stephen McFeely.

The movie begins with a flashback of sorts - a tale of Asgard's past involving Malekith and his Dark Elves and their efforts to return to the universe to a state of darkness. Key to their plans was a mythical weapon known as the Aether that would provide Malekith with the power to affect all Nine Realms during the Convergence. But the Asgardians managed to defeat the Dark Elves and took the Aether from them. The Aether was hidden away while the remaining Dark Elves went into hiding in order to await the opportunity to execute their plans.

In the present day, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) leads the rest of the Asgardians in bring peace to the Nine Realms. Odin (Anthony Hopkins) continues to discuss Thor's future responsibilities as heir to the throne and presses him to consider taking a wife among the warriors of Asgard. Back on Earth, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) has moved to London and tries to date other people given the fact that Thor has been away for two years after his vague promise to return to her. But her date is interrupted by her intern Darcy (Kat Dennings) sharing some interesting readings that they're picking up in the area. That leads her to a factory that seems to be the location for various laws of physics breaking down like having trucks float and objects disappear in mid-air.

The movie tries to address several plot threads, including whether or not Thor will choose to return to Jane Foster and have some sort of a relation thus giving up his birthright as the son of Odin and the heir to the throne of Asgard. It's sort of a classic Thor comics sort of conflict and that's not all that bad in itself. But at the same time, it's not exactly a human struggle - and thus as far as stories go, it's a little harder to find something to relate to for members of the audience. And that's really the greater challenge with the character of Thor - he's just so out there that he's not exactly one you want to relate to fully or even emulate. Let's face it - he tends to be a bit of a dick, although he has softened up a bit since the events of the first movie given his greater exposure to humanity.

In such situations, the writers normally provide for a more human role to provide the audience with perspective. This time around I think that Darcy and fellow intern Ian (Jonathan Howard), although they really become more like comic relief given their limited screen time. Jane isn't exactly a character we can relate to either given how she sort of becomes the center of the movie's core conflict. 

That is not to say that the movie wasn't fun - that's really where the value of the movie lies. Ignore the lack of character development (poor Warriors Three!) and just sit back and watch some pretty awesome battle sequences. The whole thing is like a Kirby dream come true given the excellent blending of magic and high technology into a single narrative tapestry. So yes, the Dark Elves appear to be truly deadly since they have actual energy-based weapons while the Asgardians make due with their somewhat magical shields and such. And special points for the flying boats - admittedly I had a lot of fun with them.

The whole plot may seem a little silly given the alignment of realms and a magical weapon, but when you get down to it that's the level of stories that one deals with across both comic books and mythology. And Thor will never fully escape its roots in Norse mythology - nor should it, quite frankly.

Thor: The Dark World was fun, but it felt a little short of the mark for some reason. That may be because it was a sequel or the nature of the story as a whole - I can't really say. But I still enjoyed it and thus it still rates a good 3.5 Dark Elf masks that make them look like Power Ranger fodder out of a possible 5.

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