Austin reviews Marvel’s THOR: THE DARK WORLD (from the director of PALOOKAVILLE)!!!


YES!  Another Marvel film.  I love comic books!  I love comic book movies!  That’s not to say that they’re all good.  I loved the first 2 SPIDERMAN films, the first IRON MAN, Ang Lee’s HULK (Yeah, I know!  I’m in the minority on that one), and THE AVENGERS.  I liked IRON MAN 2 & 3, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, the second FANTASTIC FOUR film, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, THE WOLVERINE and the first 2 BLADE movies.  I didn’t like DAREDEVIL, both GHOST RIDER movies, any of the PUNISHER films, SPIDERMAN 3, THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN, BLADE 3, the first FANTASTIC FOUR film, the first 3 X-MEN films, and that first WOLVERINE entry.  I thought CAPTAIN AMERICA and THOR were just okay.

For me, in the first THOR movie, I liked all the stuff on Asgard, but I didn’t like Natalie Portman’s Jane and Kat Denning’s obvious comic relief.  I also thought some of the humor felt out-of-place, but I loved Hemsworth as Thor and (especially) Hiddleston as Loki.  And having Thor in the AVENGERS film was awesome.  I got a little worried when I saw that this new one was going to be directed by a relatively unknown filmmaker.  He’s directed 2 theatrical feature films, PALOOKAVILLE and THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES.  I guess he got the gig for directing episodes of GAME OF THRONES.  But it didn’t seem like an inspired choice.  However, I got really excited when I saw the trailers.  They looked fucking good!  So I went into this movie very optimistic.

The movie opens with a Lord of the Rings-like prologue introducing the villain.  Then the story moves to modern-day and Loki is sentenced to prison by his father Odin.  Then we go to some planet where Thor and his soldiers are fighting a bunch of creatures.  Then we go to earth to find Jane Foster and her crew finding some kind of portal, and then Jane gets infected by some kind of weird mystical red virusy looking thing.  Thor comes down to Earth and brings her back to Asgard.  Then the villain from the prologue comes to Asgard and nearly destroys it, as he wants whatever is inside Jane.  She gets kidnapped and then Thor asks Loki for help to get her back.

I was really looking forward to this one, even though I thought the first one was just “okay”.  Things started a little rocky with a mildly confusing prologue.  It felt like the prologue from the FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, but not as coherent.  But the first scene with Loki was pretty good, even though Anthony Hopkins’ acting in the scene was pretty bad.  The first scene with Thor as he battles to save a village was decent, if unremarkable.  There’s a playful moment when Thor confronts a giant rock monster that is an homage to RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, but that scene was spoiled in the trailer.

Unfortunately, things go real sour once Jane enters the movie.  There’s a good 10-15 minute scene (completely without the title character) that has her and Kat Dennings finding a portal.  For one, Jane is really boring in this movie.  Natalie Portman really seems to be phoning it in.  And then, Kat Dennings.  I like her.  She’s super hot, and I just want to motorboat those boobies.  But, her character (just like in the first one) does NOT belong in a Thor film.  Every line she says is some sort of joke or smart ass comment.  It’s very annoying.  It’s like her character exists only to entertain the non-comic book fans drug by their significant other to this movie.  She feels like an obvious attempt to not alienate non-nerds.  She was annoying in the first, but is far worse here.  She’s so annoying.  Maybe in another movie, her humor would work (as she does display good comic timing), but not in a superhero movie.

And the problems don’t stop there either.  I thought the look of the film and the visual effects were a mixed bag.  Some of them looked cool, like an elevator on the bad guys’ spaceship.  But some effects looked really cheap.  Any scene that had a big battle just looked like a CGI mess.  And some of the green screen worked looked awful.  The main villain was a bore.  He kind of felt like a character out of Star Trek or something.  In fact, lots of the designs of the spaceships and costumes were very Star Treky.  And the chemistry between Jane and Thor is just as bland and uninteresting as in the first one.  I just don’t feel anything there.  The only thing that I thought worked pretty well was anything involving Loki.  He’s a great character and Tom Hiddleston gives another wonderful performance as the God of Mischief.  There’s a pretty funny scene when a bad guy is killing everyone in the Asgard prison, and Loki is just sitting calmly in his cell, hardly noticing.  I got a kick out of that.  Unfortunately, the rest of the movie isn’t that playful or fun.

Chris Hemsworth is still a good fit for Thor.  He completely embodies the character and is one of the few consistent things about the movie.  Likewise Hiddleston as Loki.  He’s definitely created an iconic character with his performance over the 3 films he’s been in.  I also liked Idris Elba as Heimdall, who gets more to do this time.  Everyone else though didn’t impress me.  Natalie Portman appears to be sleepwalking through her role here.  Kat Dennings, as I said, delivers the comedy like she’s supposed to, but her character belongs in a different movie (and different genre for that matter).  Stellan Skarsgard is reduced to a comedy relief joke.  Rene Russo doesn’t have a whole lot to do.  Christopher Eccleston as the villain is boring.  And Anthony Hopkins isn’t even trying here.  Some of his deliveries are just laughable.  You can tell he just doesn’t give a shit.

Director Alan Taylor does his best, but can’t save the film from an overload of CG effects and a convoluted plot.  His direction actually isn’t terrible, though unremarkable.  It’s serviceable, like a made-for-cable-show would look like (that’s what you get when you hire a cable director I guess).  No, the script is a big problem.   Kat Dennings’ comic relief character in it again, focusing too much on Jane Foster, and a boring villain with convoluted motivations are what’s wrong with this movie.  And some cheap looking visual effects ruin what could have been some awesome action sequences.  Even the score by Brian Tyler is boring.

So yeah.  I really wanted to like this one.  In fact, I actually thought I WAS going to like it.  All signs were pointing that this was going to be an improvement over the original.  Instead, Marvel has seemed to turn Thor into one giant joke.  The plot is a mess, the effects look cheap, and Kat Dennings’ annoying character practically dominates the movie.  THOR: THE DARK WORLD is one major letdown!  ★½ (out of ★★★★)

– Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content.

– Running time: 1hr 51min.


Categories: Austin Kennedy, Reviews

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4 replies

  1. I agree with your assessment of Jane, but I disagree about Kat’s character. Superhero films can be comic (RDJ in Iron Man), but because she was the only one delivering lines like that, it did seem out of place. I still liked it.

    I’m also with you on Erik’s treatment–it degraded his character, when they could’ve done a lot with him,given his role in Avengers. He could’ve has some major awesome character development,but noooooo, they had turn him into a joke that stigmatizes mental illness and psychiatric institutions.

    And the plot was questionable and thinly held together (so Jane just HAPPENS to be in London where the freaky portals are? I’d buy it if they took two seconds to explain why she’s in London on the first place, as, you know, a scientist, instead of making her all about her relationships and dating) and the script was ridiculous.

    Loki MAKES this movie, and that Cap cameo was the BEST. Chris Evans pretending to be Loki pretending to be Cap? awesome.

    Regardless of the bad stuff, though, I like it. And I mostly liked your review. But did you have to make the motorboating comment? I mean for realz. I don’t even remember any Kat cleavage in the movie.

    • Thanks for reading Ash. Yeah. I kinda had to make that comment. I try to keep things light at Film Geek Central. It’s just my sense of humor. Thought it was funny. 🙂

      And yes. I really really did like the CAP cameo. Forgot about that.

      And let me clarify. I do think superheros films can have some humor if it fits the personality of the comic. For instance, humor in SPIDERMAN and IRON MAN makes sense. But having jokes, quite a few jokes, in a Thor film strikes me as odd. Doesn’t fit, for me.

  2. Oh jeez, there’s humor! OH THE INHUMANITY! *curls up in fetal position* This film really that bad? Pfft. Man I paid to see BATTLEFIELD EARTH back in the day. I paid to see R.I.P.D. as well this summer. You don’t know pain. (What can I say? I’m a cinema-masochist.)

    This was better than the first film. Slightly still disposable like the first one, but more enjoyable to watch on first viewing. If Marvel movies are like the James Bond movies (and they are as formulaic actioneers), this is a LIVE AND LET DIE or THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS, a solid if not outstanding entry. You basically know what you’re getting, and for the most part, you do get what you came for. It goes right through you, but you’re amused enough for 2 hours.

    Anybody notice how for all the talk about the Aether in this movie, that it really was kinda useless for the baddie at the end? Still nice to see the hero and villain fighting in a movie version of PORTAL at the end there.

    You didn’t even like that touch of Mjonir following Thor wherever he went, even firing off into space if necessary?

    • I paid to see BATTLEFIELD EARTH. That was truly awful. I also didn’t like RIPD, but I didn’t pay for that one. Sometimes it’s good to be a critic. 🙂

      I disagree about the James Bond comparisons. I would compare this to LIVE AND LET DIE, but not to THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS. That one is actually in my top 5 Bond films. I love it!

      Thanks for reading!

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