“5000 years the worlds align, allowing an ancient darkness to strike…”
But every 4-6 month Marvel/Disney would release a new superhero flick for us to enjoy! After Iron Man 3 marked the beginning of Phase 2 from Marvel Cinematic Universe last July, the franchise continue with sophomore feature of our hammer wielding, nordic demigod Thor Out of the three lead heroes of Avengers (discounting Hulk, of course), Thor is probably my least favorite stand-alone franchise. It’s not because of the character itself, but i just found the previous installment which was released in 2011 and helmed by Kenneth Brannagh was a little bit heavy handed (and let’s be real, boring) probably because of the director’s choice of a more shakespearean approach. To recap, the first film introduced us to Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth) and his rebellious streak against his father, Odin Alfather (Anthony Hopkins), and sibling rivalry for the Asgardian thorne with Loki Laufeyson (Tom Hiddleston). The outcome of this lead to Loki wrecking havoc in New York on The Avengers, and as the film concluded,we learn that Thor return to Asgard while holding Loki captive. Now remember The Avenger? I felt Thor was a little bit more light there, which made him a bit more enjoyable, thanks to Whedon’s brilliance obviously.
The story started with an ancient history older than universe itself from Odin (Anthony Hopkins), a wicked force from the Dark Elves whose malicious plan to brought the universe to back to the all consuming darkness prior to its creation by using a infinite destructive force of Aether. At the present, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) along with Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and the Warrior Three (Zachary Levi, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano) are finally able to brought peace to all the nine realms of Yggdrasil. The nine realms is about to converge, lining as one, a phenomenon that only happened in 5000 years, triggering somekind of vortex of energy that can transcends dimension. Little did they know Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), dragged upon by her intern Darcy (Kat Dennings) and her intern’s intern Ian (Jonathan Howard), stumble upon Aether and lead Thor back to her embrace. Unfortunately this events also awakens the Dark Elves from their dormancy. Led by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), they became a morbid threat not only to Asgard or Midgard (earth) but also to all the nine realms. Thor must made his choice to listen to the wisdom of the All-Father and sacrifice his beloved or gamble his trust in the hands of his capricious sibling, Loki (Tom Hiddleston).
First thing first, let me marvel at the gorgeous visual, art direction, set, costume, production design of this movie! It’s several step above the previous film. In a glimpse everything seemed like the production of the first film, but at a closer look, you’d notice now the set has a live in quality to them, there are dynamic mechanical sequence when Heimdall (Idris Elba) opens the Bifrost, the Asgardian guards is plated with golden armor, the design of the Dark Elves weapon reminds us to those aliens back in The Avengers. It was more glorious and alive. Thor looked more rugged and fill his costume complete with the gorgeously draped cape, Loki costume seemed to fit Hiddleston lean figure to a tee giving him a more look of morose and endless cunning. Eccleston is quite literally unrecognizable under his pale-faced makeup, icy blue contacts, and braided white-haired wig. Alan Taylor orchestrated a beautiful sequence that borrows the aesthetic and epic air from his experience of shooting Game of Thrones together with the DoP Kramer Morgenthau (both worked ‘The North Remembers‘ and ‘The Night Lands‘ episodes). There are one of the sequence which Taylor choose to shoot in Iceland for its ambiguous, otherworldly landscapes as a perfect backdrop for wars of the gods This choice was smart, coincidently it was . a choice that were made by Ridley Scott on Prometheus as well.
Now let’s get into the actual film shall we. Unlike its predecessor which must introduce each character and the relationship between them (most importantly the father and son bond, as well as the true nature of sibling rivalry). I think with Thor, the problem lies in the script itself. I really think it was built using a very good parts, but there were something that does not sit quite well with the formula. There were definitely trouble with the pacing of the film, i feel like the first half is very frantic and only more articulate in the second half. If i took it apart one by one, obviously the design excelled so much compared to the first film, but then the cast was perfection as well, all the character from the previous installments more settled into their role, even the new ones are good actors in their own rights. And yet, when there were supposed to be epic nuances and climatic events unfolding on screen i felt rather blah… yes, there were definite blandness there. You’ll feel it during one of the key scene as well as when Eccleston thrilling looks and acting did not invite any reaction. What a waste of talent that was (as well as the lack of Idris Elba, in this sequel D: boo.)
What saved the movie for me, was the light comedic factor, and here i praise them for their impeccable casting choices! Ultimately presented from Kat Dennings’ (under appreciated as ever) deadpan as Darcy (and the squealing her nickname for Mjölnir) in the first half of the film. Tom Hiddleston picked up the slack later as Loki, going from dramatic cunning monolog to grief to playfully sarcastic to naughty yet witty quips, befitting to the title of the character itself, The God of Mischief. Everytime Loki came on screen the movie was uplifted, i think his approach to his role providing a caricature of a villain. Giving Loki a little bit of camp along with charisma that works wonders to the film favor, especially when Loki started to poke fun by a simple gesture or a smart-mouthed, one-liner (or, i dont know a wonderful little cameo from one of the Avengers?). Hemsworth ‘s Thor show a character growth and he himself seemed more comfortable in Thor’s skin, he brought easy confidence along with his charming quality in the role of the Demi God.
Overall i think Thor: The Dark World was a mindless fun, superhero flick. I think i enjoyed this one more than the first one, despite of its obviously flawed and formulaic script. I think Marvel in general are this type of easily enjoyable flick with a light comedic air and super punchy visual effects and production design. This supposed to be their strength, of course the degree of seriousness might varied (i believe Capt America is a bit more serious than Iron Man and Thor). It should not pretend to be something that its not. Let’s leave those to DC, okay?
As usual watch our for Stan Lee cameo here (the one in The Amazing Spider-Man is still my personal favorite though). Watch out for not one but TWO extra scene at the mid-credit and post credit. And just for fun: Why don’t you find out who’s better: Thor or Loki?
THOR: THE DARK WORLD (2013)
GENRE Superhero, Action
DIRECTOR Alan Taylor | PRODUCER Kevin Feige | WRITER Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely | MUSIC Brian Tyler | SOUND DESIGNER Shannon Mills | CINEMATOGRAPHER Kramer Morgenthau | ART DIRECTOR Hayley Easton Street (Digital Set), Mike Stallion, Thomas Brown, Matthew Robinson, Mark Swain, Jordan Crockett, Ray Chan (Supervisor) | COSTUME DESIGNER Wendy Partridge | PRODUCTION DESIGNER Charles Wood | EDITOR Dan Lebental, Wyatt Smith | STUDIO Marvel Studios| DISTRIBUTOR Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures | COUNTRY United States | RUNNING TIME 122 minutes | RATING PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content | RELEASE October 30, 2013 (ID), November 8, 2013 (US)
STARRING Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Christopher Eccleston, Idris Elba, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano, Jaimie Alexander, Rene Russo, Ray Stevenson
RANT AND (POSSIBLY) PARTIAL SPOILER. The exec at Marvel and Disney seemed to be looking at the potential of a Loki spin off. I’m all for more Tom Hiddleston and Loki is one of the best portrayal of supervillain thus far. That being said, i really wished they stop milking the cash cow and focus on what they have at hands, i mean don’t they have enough to juggle as it is with these upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe phase 2 and phase 3? I mean: Captain America: Winter Soldier, The Guardian of the Galaxy, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, the upcoming Avengers 3, Thor 3, possible Capt A sequel, possible Hulk reboot… Please, i love your franchise (i do) but you guys really need to pay attention to improving the quality on the weaker installments instead of adding more quantity and have a 10-year plan ahead for MCU.