Cinema Strange – Thor: The Dark World (2013)

by Mariah, the Persnickety Girl

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

So, I got to see the new Thor movie in 3D. Time to babble about it.

There was much to like here. I certainly got more out of this movie than I did the first Thor, which was pretty and engaging but felt too rapidly paced for the hero’s personal story arc to have much weight or satisfaction with its speedy resolution. Oh good, he spent three days on Earth and learned everything he needed to, banishment over! Thor: The Dark World is certainly not on any huge time scale either, but perhaps since there is less need for exposition, it fits better. We already know most of the characters from films earlier, so we get more time on development and less on exposition and introduction.

The setup was simple enough, and the villains were sort of just a faceless horde who are after evil for evil’s sake. Malekith fans, prepare to be rather disappointed, because he’s not much of a character outside of BAD GUY DUDE PERSON. Our Macguffin was big and powerful and important, which is just another way of saying that nobody ever felt the need to get into specifics at all about it because at that point they were rather unimportant. We had some nice setup for the next Avengers film, which is ultimately what it felt like the repercussions of the film’s overall plot was about, getting Thor on Earth for the next Avengers. Well, that and the relationship between Thor and Loki. Thor and Jane felt a little less important compared to them, though they did get some time to talk and make out. It was nice seeing the brothers acting like brothers, though. The first film had a lot of resentful Loki and clueless Thor squabbling, either overtly or in little jabs, as I recall it, but this one had moments that definitely nodded to their relationship as siblings and not just them as enemies, more so than Thor or The Avengers movies did. I dug it.

It was a solid superhero movie. I guess a strong B is about where I landed with it. If you’re big into these films, then go get a chance to see it on the big screen. If Thor’s your least favorite Avenger and Loki strikes you as a lackluster, predictable villain, then you might want to pass it over. If you haven’t seen either of the two previous films these characters are involved in, then you’ll probably be rather stranded about why you care about all these goings on and how anything works. I would recommend you make it a point to not watch sequels before the originals to prevent such a state of confusion.

As for more spoiler-y elements, here we are in no particular order.

Let’s start positive: Things I liked. Well, it was lovely to see that, while Odin thinks his son should totally hook up with Sif and she seems to sort of tentatively thing the same thing, there was no stupid obligatory ‘You Like This Guy I Like We Are Catty Enemies’ going on between her and Jane. Perhaps only so because Sif, like most of Thor’s buddies, had little screen time, but still. Being able to skip over that tired old trope was lovely, in my opinion.

Jane’s excitement over the Asgardian technology was nice, but she does spend a lot of the movie standing around, listening to people, and passing out from the magical Macguffin inside her. Towards the end, she gets to be of critical importance in defeating the big bad, but overall, she spent a lot of time just doing a whole lot of nothing while everyone else quibbles over what to do. I couldn’t tell you of any grand thing she could have done to influence this plot, really. Bringing a regular person who’s sick with crazy evil Macguffin to a realm of advanced super people leaves her with little to do but hang out.

Heimdall had some great scenes, too. Watching him get in on the combat action was nice, and the quiet down moments where he speaks with Thor were rather lovely. He’s a cool dude and I am not complaining that we get a little more time with our powerful, awesome guardian of the Bifrost.

The climax fight had some neat moments with the holes between worlds being so open, and the humans being the ones who had the devices needed to take down the big bad was a nice way to get around the fact that Malekith was going to be rather impossible for just our heroes and a bunch of Asgardian muscles to take down. that being said, the ending was not hard to see coming, though the sense of what’s ahead doesn’t detract from watching it all unfold much.

And now for the stuff that bothered me.

I did not like at all how Frigga gets two scenes, one to talk to Loki and one to show off that she is a badass in her own right before being summarily fridged right in the middle of the second one. And oh, how fridged she is. How else could the writers to get Thor and Loki back on a team together if not to kill a woman whose purpose for being in the film is pretty much only to set up that she’s a good mom and then die to bring those kids she good mom-ed together? Odin flips out that his wife is gone, but I can’t recall if they ever exchanged words in the film. They stood side by side when Loki was presented as prisoner, but that’s about as much as I can recall before bam, fridge. Maybe I’m suffering from some serious amnesia and we got some more time with her in the first Thor film, but somehow I am incredibly skeptical of this fact. It’s an event that impacts the characters emotionally, not the viewer. We got maybe a scene and a half to learn about her before she’s killed off.

Less lovely than the avoidance of a dumb rivalry blooming up between Sif and Jane for the tired and generic romantic rivals subplot is that, aside from Sif, I couldn’t tell you a dang thing about any of his other buddies. Sif has a name only because they said it twice or so while loosely expanding upon her personality, which is really just summed up easily as Loyal. There’s Redheaded Axe Dude and Blonde Quippy Bard Guy, and because they leave Hogun behind in Vanaheim, I learned his name just before he exited the movie during the short little ‘bye dude’ talk between him and Thor. And no, a two second shot of him looking up at something does not count as him re-entering. I do understand that putting in room for each of them to do stuff would pad the film too much, but still, it was distracting to be so aware that I didn’t have names to go with those other two prominent sidekick characters. And no, looking up the names in advance doesn’t absolve the film for never letting me tie a name to their faces.

So those are my thoughts. I’m probably forgetting a bunch of stuff, but who doesn’t? It’s pretty good. I recommend it. The end.

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