By WIshIWasSuperman 18 Comments
Ok, I’ll do my best to keep spoilers to a minimum and at the end – that way anyone who doesn’t want anything spoiled can still get an idea of my thoughts, and anyone who has seen it or doesn’t care can see what I thought in full… And just in case I’ll use spoiler block things too…
If that makes any sense… Either way, I’m gonna start with the “bad” for the film.
I’m a fan of the MCU so far – maybe not as much as some – but I do thoroughly enjoy it. The first Thor film I thought was great and was pretty excited about the sequel. I thought it had a great trailer and considering how good Avengers was, I had high hopes. And perhaps that was a problem. You see, while I still enjoyed the movie – it fell a little flat in a few areas for me. First off it faced the same problem as many sequels do – it’s not as good as the first film. This isn’t always the case, but more often than not a sequel just never seems to be as good as the previous movie, and sadly Thor: The Dark World was no exception to this.
Maybe it’s because there’s nothing “new” to be seen with regard to the main cast or hero. Maybe it’s because the 1st film was so mind-blowingly amazing, nothing could live up to it. The reasons can vary depending on the film – and in this case I think it might have been a combination of the films the preceded it (namely Thor and The Avengers) and the fact it doesn’t feature any new developments or growth for the main characters.
Without giving anything away we see the return of the primary cast of the 1st film, minus any frost giants. Odin, Sif, Volstagg, Heimdall, Fandrall return from the Asgardian’s; while Mitgard again provides Jane Foster, Darcy and Dr Erik Selvig. There’ s a couple of new faces for some support purposes, but largely if they were in the 1st one, they’re here again without any real change. This thankfully includes Tom Hiddleston as Loki (I’ll get to him later). Basically this equates to – “been there, done that”. There’s nothing new to see here and the few new characters they do introduce do nothing more than either provide room for an extra gag or two (because you know, everyone is a cynical smartass or wise guy in the face of world wide destruction or even weird paranormal phenomena), or serve a plot point for a moment then are gone again (one in particular is painfully obvious in this sense).
What makes it even more of a let down on this front is they don’t even use this as an opportunity to try and develop any of these characters further. They literally do the exact same things and probably share similar screen time to their original iterations from Thor. There’s absolutely no attempt to make these characters more involved in any way. We also see a display of the Asgardian military seemingly completely unable to win any battle without the almighty Thor, which begs the question – how good are they really? This happened at the beginning of Thor and is basically repeated in a similar way this time around. They make a very minor and subtle attempt to push Sif into the film more, by providing an opening for a love interest between the two – which personally I would be fine with – however it never goes anywhere and seems to be completely forgotten by about half-way through the movie, Sif once again being pushed to the back of the film and getting no screen time.
The film also starts with a fair bit of narrated exposition from Odin, which is necessary because without it – you’d have absolutely no idea what is going on….. except for when they re-explain it all again later in the film for the benefit of Thor and Jane Foster. So yeah – this was a bit of a miss in my book too. It’s not horrible and doesn’t really come off badly done – but it does give the entire film a quality as if it’s a story being told after the fact. Except that it isn’t. This is the most recent events. Perhaps with a different voice, or just leaving it out entirely it would have worked better. Still show the scenes and include in-scene exposition so the audience can follow – but having it narrated, and by Odin especially, sets a tone for the film which doesn’t make sense – if you let yourself focus on it anyway. It also potentially provides contradiction later in the film – but again, I don’t want to spoil anything yet.
Another area where I felt really let down was in the CGI. I may just be fussy, but considering what some studios are capable of – I have pretty high expectations. I don’t believe the production budget has been made public as yet, but I’ll be surprised if this wasn’t in the $220+ million arena. Now obviously the film will have heavy CGI, thanks to the need to literally create an entire world, and similar to the 1st film it looks awesome in the right scenes. Scenery is difficult to make look “real” when it’s a completely other world look, so I have no real complaints here. Instead it’s minor things. For example – Mjolnir. Obviously a real prop when being handled, at different times it’s replaced out for obvious reasons with a CGI hammer. The thing is – you can pretty much tell when that happens. Now, I know logically that a hammer can’t be shot flying through the air into someone or thing or changing direction mid flight and return to the thrower. But I don’t want it to be so plainly obvious either. I don’t want it to be so visible to my eyes. But that’s what this gave me. In some instances the CGI looks almost cartoony. Then there is just a really bad green scene towards the end of the film which I found really distracting – which was made worse by the fact it’s supposed to be a strong emotional scene between Thor and Odin. Instead I’m staring at the screen in disbelief thinking “how in 2013 on a movie this big, does it look like Superman IV: A Quest for Peace?” Yes, that scene is that bad and ALL of you will spot it. The cartoony affect happens with Thor himself too – when he gets hit and is sent flying through the air for example – the movement is just not right and comes off as plainly animated. It reminded me of the 1st Harry Potter movie, where Neville or Harry or whoever it was is trying to fly and ends up crashing all over the roof of Hogwarts? It looks somewhat cheap – which when considering how big the film is, and the size of the over-archiving franchise it’s a part of – it just shouldn’t.
Now – I know this is a review of Thor, but Man of Steel has to be brought up – as there is some obvious influences. Firstly – they make a point of trying to show a more power based fighting element with big hits and Thor and others being sent flying and crashing into hills and things, much like the fight sequence between Superman and Zod (although without the level of destruction to buildings and potential citizens). This to me seemed like a direct response to some of the criticisms I’ve seen around here on CV, basically saying that movie Thor just isn’t portrayed powerfully enough. In addition to that keep a close eye on some of the villain equipment – it has a Kryptonian vibe to it I felt, which again, just came off badly. It’s not badly done, it just detracted from the film for me – coming off like it was trying to match up to Superman since you know – they’re both kind of god-like heroes in competing franchises/studios/universes. Also considering how applauded MoS was for its visual effects, this isn’t surprising that they might want to lend some of those elements to give similar feel to the power we’re talking about in this movie. It’s not a bad thing, but IMO, if you’re going to do it – do it right. Don’t attempt and then not quite get there – which is how this came off. It just never looked “as good” and so it then works against the film in my mind.
Ok – minor spoiler alert here. Speaking of power – the villain raises a whole different problem for the film/s. I’m pretty sure everyone knows the villain is Malekith. He is basically portrayed as the bad of the bad and as powerful as he appears at the start of the film – he gets way more powerful by the end. I mean – Avenger’s level powerful. That is literally how strong and dangerous the situation seems by the films climax – and yet Thor handles it, without any Avengers assists in any way. What makes it even more confusing in terms of how powerful Thor is supposed to be – earlier in the film he is shown fighting an enemy who is clearly not supposed to be as powerful or strong as the primary villain – yet he gets his a@@ handed to him in an unbelievable fashion. I mean – down-right pummelled into the ground. Barely puts up a fight in fact.
And while I’m talking about this – the final battle takes an army of beings that are supposed to be almost impossible to beat – a threat so great that the entire Asgardian army wouldn’t be able handle them, and turns them into a walking punchline. I mean, I’m all for adding some humour to these films (in fact it’s an absolute necessity to make them enjoyable), but it totally removes the level of menace and threat from the end of the film. At no point while I was watching the end battle sequence did I think anything bad was going to happen. To anyone. At all. They even make a strong point of showing that no bystanders get hurt during all this. It came off as an over the top reaction to go “see! No disaster porn here! No innocent bystanders getting hurt in this alien-invasion-cross-9-realm-universe-wide-apocalypse.” I mean these villains are supposed to be threatening every realm in existence, and throughout the film are shown to be a worthy adversary for the Asgardians – a genuine threat. But during the end, a few humans are able to turn it into something of a Benny Hill chase sequence. There was one spot where literally they are being chased around and around this one area by these aliens, who for some reason don’t attempt to shoot them, and when they have the opportunity to cut them off with a separate group of aliens – they end up running around behind them as well.
Back to Thor – he’s fighting the big bad, and even though he was getting pummelled in the previous scene (literally it’s like 5 minutes earlier) he’s now going toe-to-toe with a guy who I’m asked to believe is powerful enough to bring darkness to all 9 realms and totally destroy everything as we know it? Really? Internal logic people – has no one at Marvel heard of this?
Ok – that’s the bad. Now the good.
The performances were top notch. Chris Hemsworth is a brilliant Thor and really shows some great emotion in this film thanks to some certain scenes. He looks the part, has totally gotten the character, and while none of the support cast really get to develop – you really feel like Thor has grown and matured, especially by the end of the film. He’s a true hero, worthy of Mjolnir and even ruling Asgard.
Then there is Tom Hiddleston. I realised while watching this movie that he completely makes these films work. Without him and his portrayal of Loki – Thor, Avengers and The Dark World here would have been so much worse. After the film my girlfriend even commented she think she likes him even more than Chris Hemsworth – which trust me, is a big deal. The two of them together are great and show the sibling aspect brilliantly. Paired up they make this film way better than it actually was, and one scene in particular almost moved me to tears – which again is a big deal. I simply can NOT fault their performances.
Everyone plays their respective characters well though – which is good to see. While I may have had issue with some of the characters roles – this is no fault of the actors, and the job they were hired to do – they all do an excellent job of.
With the exception to the ending of the film – the actual plot is also great. Even the ending is good (although not well executed) in terms of how they resolve the issue from a plot perspective – but it does rely a bit on some PIS – but hey – it’s a CBM. You can’t make a CBM without PIS.
I loved the villain and found him to be satisfyingly bad and powerful over-all – especially as someone who has no idea who he is, which I would suggest is going to be the majority of the audience. It proves you can make a great villain without knowing who he is at all.
Analytically, the pacing was good, I never got bored as such or felt like the film lost momentum; the score suited well and the humour (while a bit over-played and to the detriment of the finale) was genuinely funny, and felt more natural than, say, IM3. And while I had gripes with some of the SFX, the Asgard scenes are once again breath-taking. I also enjoyed the fact this film was set more on Asgard and the other realms than Earth.
There was one scene that over-all saved the film for me and allows it to be a film I will recommend to everyone. Again minor spoiler stuff here. Thor and Loki interact in such an amazing way when it comes down to the crunch between the two as far as being brothers go. I don’t want to give anything away – but basically, thanks to events and Loki stepping up as a good guy, the actions he takes kind of adds some finality for the two of them – basically put up or shut up as far as being brothers goes. In doing this they show a brotherly bond and really pull at your heart strings. Without this scene , the movie would be passable, but thanks to this scene I left feeling very satisfied, despite all the earlier issues I had with the film.
Over-all it’s a solid film as far as sequels go. It’s not amazing or brilliant by any standards, but it is a good time and worth watching, especially if you are fan of the franchise, character or MCU in general. It’s far from perfect, and certainly doesn’t live up to The Avengers – but I’m guessing the box office will see a nice boost thanks to Avengers fame and linking to the over-all MCU. Also look out for a cool cameo appearance, and in case you hadn’t heard – there is 2 end credit scenes…. Again (which kind of makes me want to tell Marvel to go screw themselves- I hate sitting though all those credits for something that’s barely important….stupid Schwarma scene). Also, just as an FYI – I saw it in IMAX 3D, and basically didn’t think it was worth it. The 3D for me didn’t add anything, so you can skip that extra charge unless you like to waste money for no good reason.
If I had to give it a rating, I’d say it’s a 3-3.5 stars out of 5. Out of 10 – I guess I’d go 6.5, considering Thor sits at a 7-7.5 and Avengers for me is an 8-8.5.