Sunday, November 10, 2013

Loki Charms: “Thor: The Dark World” Feels Familiar But Still Works

Are there enough Marvel movies or what? In all honesty they all seem to be melding together, at least in my mind. Disney’s attempt to create this “Marvel Universe” has sort of made all these movies look and feel familiar. Take for instance the trailer for the new Captain America movie. Doesn’t it just sort of look like Iron Man or The Avengers but only starring Captain America? This homogenizing of superhero films is both fascinating and irritating. Having said all that I have deemed “Thor: The Dark World” a success mostly because it offers enough charming qualities though it doesn’t quite do enough to make it stand out amongst its superhero movie brethren.

Most people will want to know whether “The Dark World” is better than the first "Thor" which was unleashed on audiences not very long ago in 2011. (Is it just me or does it seem like there’s a Marvel movie every 6 months?) I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily “better” or “worse” than its predecessor. The plot involves some ancient evil elves who prefer life in the dark and want to destroy the universe. Some CGI gooey stuff (referred to here as “Aether”) that resembles the black alien life form in "Spider-Man 3" is being sought out to help make this happen. It actually ends up infecting Natalie Portman’s character Jane Foster who we remember from the first film as a too-pretty astrophysicist. Ms. Foster fell in love with the hunky blonde from above called Thor (Chris Hemsworth) who helped save the world not only in the first film but in the “The Avengers” movie as well. There are bad guys whose names or species I can’t quite recall. I don’t really care. I gather most won’t. Thor must call upon his evil adopted brother Loki to not only help save the universe, but to save the movie with his wit and charmed helped by actor Tom Hiddleston.

As someone who doesn’t always quite “get” movies set in fantastical places I found myself sort of lost. Oh my,I thought, is this going to be another John Carter? But as the film began to finally focus on the earthling characters including perky intern Darcy (Kat Dennings), her new charismatic intern Ian (Jonathan Howard), and the undoubtedly crazy Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) who runs around Stonehenge in the nude, the film found a comforting balance of fantasy and reality. And by golly there is actually some chemistry between Hemsworth and Portman (enough to make a silly throwaway post-post-credits scene worth staying for). The film takes a cue from "Star Trek Into Darkness" by having the heroes call upon a bad guy who actually defeat someone far more evil. There’s a reason why Loki is considered one of the best Marvel villains.

I enjoyed “Thor: The Dark World” even if I didn’t exactly grasp every single plot point. I found it got better as the film progressed. There’s a fun sense of humor that sort of feels like leftover jokes from The Avengers, but still gives the film the lively kick it needs. I’m not the biggest fan of Thor in general (most of my previous knowledge of the character comes from “Adventuresin Babysitting”) but I gather the fans will be pleased with this entry. While it tries to emulate the standards set by the Iron Man films this series hasn’t quite reached the quality of those films. For what it is “Thor: The Dark World” is a decent entry in a whole conglomerate of films that is struggling to make themselves distinct enough to be worth remembering.  GRADE: B


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