Thursday, December 5, 2013

MIXED BAG! THOR: THE DARK WORLD REVIEW! + WORD OF THE DAY! 12/5/13!

Asgard [az-gard]
noun
1. Norse mythology. The home of the Aesir and location of Valhalla and the palaces of the individual gods: connected with the earth by the rainbow bridge, Bifrost.

EX. During the blog's hiatus, I finally got to watch Thor: The Dark World and I have to say that Marvel Studios has really found a good formula for their super hero films, especially impressive considering they pull off good sequels, and Thor 2 really left me wanting to spend another two hours in Asgard. Like the film, let's keep this review short and bearable (also like the awful joke at the top of the article).

As a big sci-fi blockbuster for the whole family, Thor: The Dark World hits the right spots with an interesting, though often convoluted & underplayed plot, adventures in rich and visually fascinating worlds beyond our own, and all manner of monsters & machinery for our hero to smash and be smashed by in the course of the film. The special effects are right on par with The Avengers (2012) that set the bar with it's massive destruction and monster effects that make it the best, sort of big and dumb in the best sort of way, super hero movie of all time. But it's not the special effects that makes this movie stand out.

Starting with Iron Man (2008), the strongest asset of Marvel Studios has to be their casting department. Not just anyone can prance around in a simultaneously cool, iconic, and ridiculous costume, spouting off one-liners, and giving personality to a character with decades of material to work with-- without pissing off the fans. The casting of the Asgardians, with actors like Idris Elba, Rene Russo & Anthony Hopkins,  who can pull off the grandiose personalities of these god-like fantasy characters, is what makes this film great and, with better writing and more time spent amongst these character in Asgard, is what puts The Dark World above it's predecessor.

Especially, the casting of Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Tom Hiddleston as Loki (pictured in a ridiculous poster for the film in China), the latter of which has managed to practically steal the franchise. The brotherly dysfunction between Thor and Loki really carries the franchise, from moments of surprisingly genuinely stirring emotion created from their conflict to duo comedy with Loki playing off of Thor as the perfect straight man. I'm not sure where, but I think Loki once called Thor the "biggest, sweetest idiot in all the nine realms". Thor needs Loki as a foil to make his films more than just Thor bashing monsters for two hours and Loki needs Thor to have someone he can fool again and again. This is the foundation of the franchise and it really shines in this buddy brother movie.

Now, let's talk about the film's two small hang-ups that keep it from being the same sort of perfect experience as The Avengers; the underused villain and the overused mortals. The former is a more forgivable flaw because getting villains right can be difficult in these sorts of films, Loki being a special case himself, and the Thor films really just needs to give Thor an obstacle to overcome to build a plot. Yet, the Dark Elves were quite well-designed, with their albino creeper doll armor, cursed monster forms, and awesome blade themed ships. It would've been good to get to understand Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), so when Thor inevitably fights him we have some extra motivation to root for Thor. Or something. There was no "puny god" moment in Thor: The Dark World. The bigger flaw is the overuse of Natalie Portman's Doctor Foster and the equally frustrating scientist characters on Earth. They weren't awful, but they take up an obnoxious percentage of the film's run time that could've been better utilized on other elements such as Malekith. The film could've taken place completely in Asgard and stayed far away from Earth, maybe with a little scene where he goes to Earth at the end, and would've probably found it's place as the best Marvel film next to The Avengers.

All in all, Thor the Dark World is a film that any fan of the Marvel Studios franchises will find well worth the ticket of admission. The trip to Asgard is worth it.

Pretty frickin' sweet. 4/5.

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