Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My Review of Thor: The Dark World

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that people are asking me for this review, considering I wrote a six part blog post on how watching the movie Thor changed my life. I always intended to write this review, but then over the weekend people kept asking me "Mandy, what did you think of Thor 2?" or "Mandy, when is your review going up?" So, my friends, here it is. Part 1 of my long awaited review of Thor: The Dark World. (Yes, I said PART 1, as in there will be a PART 2! Also, unrelated, as I'm writing this, the first Thor movie is playing in the background. No one should be surprised.)

To say I liked Thor: the Dark World is to underestimate my feelings in general about Marvel and the Thor franchise. I didn’t merely like Thor: the Dark World. If this movie was a person, I would marry it—i.e. confess my love to it and make a lifelong commitment to stay true to it for the rest of my days. Therefore, if you are looking for a fair and balanced discussion of this movie and its strengths and weaknesses, then you have come to the wrong place.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s just jump straight into the spoilery discussion of why this movie was so freaking awesome, shall we?  

Science FTW

It was so nice for Jane to actually do science and have her science be critical to defeating the bad guy. Yes, it’s unexplained movie science that frankly makes no sense—but that’s science in every movie, so I really don’t care about that. What I do care about is that Thor would not have won the day without the devices that Selvig created and that Jane upgraded to create anomalies rather than stop them. Jane’s existence was actually critical to taking down the big bad, which is a huge change from the original Thor movie and it was fantastic.

Love Triangles Handled Correctly

One of the trailers released before this movie came out had me really worried that they were going to punch up the Sif/Jane/Thor love triangle to a level that was going to make me vastly uncomfortable and upset with humanity and Asgardians alike. I was extremely pleased to discover this was not the case. 

It was obvious that Sif likes Thor as more than a friend, but that he is her commander and her prince first, and a possible love interest second. It was also obvious that she knew he liked Jane and wasn’t really going to push it. This displays that Sif is both (a) a grown up and (b) smart. Frankly, she has no reason to get up in arms over Jane. Jane’s going to be dead in 80 years tops. That’s nothing to an Aesir (i.e. Asgardian). And Sif has actual things to do. She doesn’t have time to pine. So for the next 100 years she’s going to be kicking butt across the universe and then she can check in on Thor again and see if he’s interested in starting a relationship. It makes sense. It’s intelligent and it’s how an Asgardian warrior should behave when faced with this problem. And I loved that.

Odin was making a bigger deal out of the love triangle than any of the people in it, which also makes sense. He’s worried about this as a father and a king. He wants to see Thor settled down and happy before he dies. Of course he’s going to over stress about it.

I’m just so proud to see a movie deal with a love triangle in an intelligent way. High five to all the writers. 

Asgard

I've always felt the first Thor movie failed to give us enough of Asgard. They present us with this interesting world and then don't explore it at all. I know part of the reason they did this was out of fear that they would be going too out-there for their audience. It was so good to see Marvel trust us in this movie and have most of it take place on Asgard and the Dark World. Asgard is a beautiful place that deserves more exploration, and frankly I want to see more of it. I don't think we're ever going to get a movie that takes place solely in the non-Midgard Nine Realms (like Journey Into Mystery), but it was nice to see a greater exploration of Asgard: its bars, its medical facilities, and even its dungeons.

Comedy

I had a friend who was worried that this movie wouldn’t be as funny as the original Thor. All of the goodness from Thor’s sequences in that original movie are from the sheer comedy of a confused Asgardian on Earth. (We all know the sheer joy of the Loki sequences was just Loki himself. Everything he does is wonderful, perfect, and just CAN I HUG HIM ALREADY?) I wasn’t so worried that this movie would lack comedy, because I anticipated that having Thor and Loki work together would result in comedy. And boy was I right. But even I really didn’t anticipate the comic gold mine that was Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston’s chemistry.

Also in the first movie Thor was a fish out of water, but in this movie he was a true Asgardian on Earth. Watching him cram into the car or get into a subway, hilarious. And hanging Moljnir on the coatrack? I almost died of laughter.

But we can’t talk about comedy without talking about the funniest moment in the entire movie: Chris Evans-playing-Loki-imitating-Captain America.

The first time I saw this movie I was laughing so hard I actually had no idea what Chris Evans was saying. Also I’m super proud of Marvel for managing to hide this moment from us rabid fans. It’s not often they can pull a fast one on us, and they did here, and half of the funny was the sheer shock of seeing Captain America in Asgard.

Know Your Audience

Marvel Studios has managed to make a blockbuster movie series that has very few cases of objectifying females. Thor 2 manages to not only not objectify females (uh, double negative? I mean it doesn't objectify women) but rather cater to its female fans. That Thor shirtless scene was completely 100% gratuitous.

Generally I’m not a fan of gratuitous anything. If I was trying to make a tight story, I would cut the shirtless Thor scene because it literally serves no purpose. But this is one case where I just have to shake my head ruefully, smile, and say, “Well played, Marvel Studios. Well played.”

When I first saw Thor 2, it was at a Thor marathon put on by my theater (so Thor, Avengers, and then Thor 2) on the Thursday it came out. I would say 75% of the audience was female. The second time was the Friday, so a more general audience, and the theater was easily 50/50. Marvel knows that they have a huge amount of female fans, and I think it’s a wise decision to cater to them. Granted, I would prefer it be done less gratuitously, because I prefer tight story telling. (And I think they’ve pulled this off better in the past with the shirtless scene in the original Thor and Captain America’s shirtless scene). But I still applaud them for recognizing how many female fans they have. (And particularly how many female fans Thor and Loki have, though I don’t think we’ll ever get a shirtless Loki just because I don’t see how it could make any sense story-wise. Loki takes too much pride in his immaculate appearance and as he’s clearly displayed, he’s willing to use magic to keep it that way. So even torn clothes aren’t a valid excuse.)

Loki 

Don't die of shock, but I’m not going to talk about Loki here. This review is already long enough. Instead I’m going to write an entire post devoted to Loki as presented by Thor: the Dark World. (Expect it to go up either this Thursday or Friday.) Basically my feelings are: Loki made this movie. But of course, I feel the exact same way about the first movie. Loki of Asgard is the best thing about the Thor franchise. And Tom Hiddleston just makes him leap off the screen, making him feel like a real complicated person rather than a comic book cliché. If I was Kevin Feige, I would be sending so many thank you’s to Kenneth Branaugh for taking a chance on an unknown actor. 

If you want a sneak peek of my feels regarding Loki in this movie, check out this post I wrote for tumblr right after I saw the movie the second time. Also if you’re stressed about Odin’s end fate, just know that it’s officially ambiguous. We have these comments from Anthony Hopkins and Allan Taylor saying one thing and this interview with Kevin Feige saying another. If you want to know my thoughts about it, check out this post where I discuss Loki as king. (A bonus post here for any Wheel of Time fans who also saw Thor: The Dark World.) I will also write more coherent thoughts on the subject in my Loki post later this week.

So overall that’s it. My non-Loki thoughts on Thor: the Dark World. To close I want to give you the one-tweet review written by my dear friend, @auhim (i.e. Michael Gabriel).

1 comment:

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