Guys want to get hammered with him, girls want to get hammered by him. He’s Thor, and he’s a pretty cool guy.
After the whole incident in New York, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is back in his homeland of Asgard, but this time, is being locked away for all eternity, banished from the rest of society. This is when Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds that it is his time to shine and take over the throne, just as his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), is getting ready to step down right off of it. However, not so fast there! After years and years of exile, the ruler of the Dark Elves, Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), comes back to shake things up and make Asgard his own play-place where things crash and burn on a daily-basis. Thor won’t have this, however, he’s almost too powerless due to the fact that his heart and mind is elsewhere. Or, to be specific, back on Earth, where his old flame, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), is still thinking about him to this day, while also trying to get over him date-by-date. Not going to be so easy now, especially since he’s back and asking for all sorts of help from her and her band of scientific misfits.
Though many people were skeptical about it, myself being included, Thor turned out to be a nice surprise that not many were expecting. For once, we not only had a funny superhero movie that didn’t quite enter the realm of “smug”, but we also had one that was still exciting, light, quick and entertaining, despite practically being a filler so that we have one other character developed for that inevitable Avengers movie that did not disappoint much either. Still, with Marvel Phase Two already have begun with Iron Man 3, one has to wonder: “Now that we’ve seen what was in store for us with the huge team-up, will the stand-alone sequels/prequels be able to measure-up?”
Well, the answer is definitely yes, and definitely no. Here, I’ll explain more.
What I mean by the “definitely yes”, is that while these types of movies where we focus on one superhero’s own adventure, with their own subplots, themes and such, we still get a feel that there is a larger-universe out there just waiting to be explored, but just won’t be. That’s not a problem however, considering that it seems like Marvel is comfortable enough now with actually mentioning that there are other superheros out there, and that the whole NYC debacle actually did in fact HAPPEN. Heck, there’s even a couple of brief mentions of the S.H.I.E.L.D. and how they’re lurking around, which was still cool to hear, even if I don’t watch the show. Just yet, that is.
Anyway, so yeah, it’s definitely cool that Marvel doesn’t shy away from actually making mentions of there being others out there in the world and that they may just be waiting to show up whenever the time is right. Personally, I don’t know how anytime of distress isn’t considered “the right time” to get the band back together, but it’s a big old whatever. Obviously I don’t run things in the movie business and I’m pretty sure we all know why now.
But what about that “definitely no”? Well, the reason why I said that is because the stand-alone sequels will never, ever, not in a million years, be on the same, larger, grand epic-scale that the Avengers movie itself was, which may disappoint some far more demanding-viewers, if that’s the type of movie they want. To be honest, I knew going into this that I wasn’t going to get the whole group of Nick Fury, Steve Rodgers, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, or even Agent Coulson for that matter. All I knew, and wanted, was the same old fun-feel I got from the first Thor movie, and that is exactly what I got, no strings attached or added. Just fun, and for a movie that’s coming out against some Oscar-bait, heavy-hitters this month, I have to give it the huge benefit of the doubt for at least bringing some upbeat vibes to a very chilly atmosphere. That’s if you walk outside and you live in the Northeast. Other than that, I think you don’t you’d be smelling what I’m selling, but so be it!
All that you need to know though about this movie is that it’s as fun and exciting as the first flick was, but with a lot less of the comedy-element thrown in there to round things out. This sort of disappointed me, and it sort of didn’t. It did because I thought that’s what separated the first one from being such a dark, serious take on a superhero who would most likely get that type of treatment; and it didn’t because while the first two-thirds of the movie keep its serious moods and faces afloat, the last-act is where I really felt like things were coming together and firing on all cylinders. Not only was the huge climax as much of a CGI-spectacle as you’d expect, with all sorts of action going on in each-frame-per-second, but the humor just kept on having me laugh. All of that “fish-out-water” comedy that seemed to run so rampant in the first movie, is back here again but used to even better effect, showing us that even though these movies tackle such subjects as Norse gods, demons and angels, there’s a still an under-lining of self-knowing silliness to it all that makes it more than just your standard brain-killer. It has a personality; the same type of personality you’d want to be hanging around at any party or social gathering you go to.
Keep that in mind, especially before that painful ten year, high-school reunion.
A lot of that comedy works mainly through the fact that Chris Hemsworth himself is such a lovable goof, that it’s easy to see past his terribly good-looks, rockin’ bod and ability to charm any gal he pleases to with his Australian accent, and realize that he’s actually talented. Now, of course we all knew that after seeing the first Thor, Cabin in the Woods and especially, Rush two months ago, but to see that he still has it continues to make this blandly-written character somewhat interesting, really charmed the hell out of me. But seriously, on a real, standard-business note, somebody’s got to pitch the idea of getting Thor his own sitcom. Every line, every piece of comedy that comes out of this dude’s mouth or occurs around him, is just pure hilarity and had me, as well as plenty others, howling whenever necessary. Just saying, we’d all benefit from it. Even you Stan Lee, you old bastard.
And like usual, Tom Hiddleston steals the show as Loki, giving us a character that’s easy to love, but also, even easier to hate by how evil and despicable his actions can be. Still though, there is signs of humanity with this character that goes further than just, “he loves his bro,” which is either a testament to Hiddleston’s talents, or the writing for Loki itself. I think it’s a little mixture of both, but more so of Hiddleston just because he seems so damn charming, on and off the screen. While Loki’s character still prevails as being the most interesting and worth-watching villain we get with these movies, that leaves little to no room for Chistopher Eccleston’s Malekith to do anything even remotely menacing or memorable. Instead, he just comes off like a bad extra from Lord of the Rings that showed up a bit too late to filming after he heard that he got the role of a lifetime, and partied too hard the night before.
The rest of the ensemble does pretty fine as well, with everybody contributing in anyway that they possibly can. Idris Elba is awesome and still bad-ass as Heimdall; Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo do nice jobs as the rulers of Asgard, proving that seniority rules, even in Marvel movies; Natalie Portman gets plenty of screen-time to be all sorts of fun, sassy and fiery when she’s called on to do so, and it’s nice to see her back on the big screen and doing what she does best; and of course, Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgård are around to be goofy and zany in their scientic, nerdy-like way, and they’re fun to watch, especially Skarsgård who’s constantly running around like a loon, to much of the audience’s pleasure. Glad to see him put his pants back on though. Only in a Lars von Trier movie should we have to be victim to a sight like that, not a Marvel movie, THE SAME ONES THAT KIDS GO TO SEE.
Consensus: The first movie’s surprise-factor still works well against Thor: The Dark World, but still shouldn’t be held fully against it because it as fun, as exciting, as witty and as much of a spectacle as you’re going to get with a movie released at the beginning of November, right before the army of drop-dead serious, Oscar-bait projects begin to swarm in. Enjoy this while it lasts, because it’s the closest thing we’re going to get to “fun” in the longest time.
8 / 10 = Matinee!!