Sunday, November 3, 2013
REVIEW: Thor: The Dark World
Madman and I have had several conversations about the content of this site, and while we have come to the consensus that the HCB is one of the last bastions of all things comic book, HCB Team Asia (Me) sometimes gets the opportunity to see films before my American counterparts. There are plenty of things about comics in the archives this week (check out Arthur Black's new interview with Chris Charlton and Madman's review of Robocop by Boom Studios) to keep our readers sated, but my review is all about Odin-son's long awaited return to the silver screen.
The Dark World is the visually stunning followup to Thor and the Avengers. While the settings and effects are masterful and a visceral delight, there are some aspects of this film that seemed regretfully out of place, making it a flawed effort for the Marvel franchise. The endeavor is a risky and ambitious one, bringing together a mix of high fantasy and science fiction that is the embodiment of all things Thor. Where offerings like The Lord of the Rings trilogy cater to a niche audience and are so grand in scope that they attract John Q. Moviegoer as well, The Dark World tries to fuse sub-par, Hollywood blockbuster tropes into the mix, and this is where the film suffers most. Marvel tries to keep the numbers up in some of the worst ways possible. Where Avengers succeeded in this area, The Dark World failed miserably.
Kat Dennings gives an almost film ruining, shudder-worthy performance as the comic relief. Not since Jar Jar Binks have I hated a character this much. Her presence in the film detracts from it so badly that having all of her dialogue removed would have made TDW much better in every way. Expect this film to get the "Phantom Edit" treatment sometime soon. These are actual lines of dialogue.
Kat Dennings: "Hey Thor, how's space?"
Thor: "Space is fine."
This was not a simple inquiry, instead it was what passed for comedy in The Dark World. Kill Darcy before the next film please.
Tom Hiddleston once again steals the show as Loki and provides the semi-cliffhanger of an ending as well. His relationship with Frigga comes into the forefront, and surprisingly enough, Rene Russo outshines Anthony Hopkins who seems underutilized in the script throughout. Chris Hemsworth shows once more that he is the perfect Thor, and while the film mostly steers clear of Midgard (Earth), he continues to entertain even without all of the cultural misunderstandings that defined his performance in the original film. Malekith was hugely disappointing and lacked almost any development, making his presence in the film mostly forgettable.
There were major editing issues throughout The Dark World, and where this suffered most was with developing characters. Professor Selvig has a complete meltdown until the final act, and the only plausible explanation given is him throwing a giant bag of pills into the trash after his theories become validated proving him "sane". I guess it was the meds that were making him run naked around Stonehenge for the first two thirds of the film. Natalie Portman also seems quite out of place in her role as well. It's not quite the drolling monotone of a certain Queen that I will refrain from mentioning, but everything about her in this film seemed forced. Sif (Jamie Alexander) makes for a much more viable love interest, and while its foreshadowed that she may indeed replace Portman in subsequent Thor films, the passing of the torch cannot come soon enough.
The Dark World succeeds is in almost every setting and action scene. Many of the nine realms are explored in the film and we get a lot more of Asgard, all of these places being much more interesting than New Mexico in every way. Even London serves to be superior in this regard, but no surprises there.
Ultimately, The Dark World lacks focus, and is piecemealed together, detracting from both the plot and characters.There are many strange, baffling editing choices that secure this film's place as only slightly better than Iron Man 2. The entire premise itself is confusing, even to a guy who spends a ton of time reading and writing reviews about comics. However, anyone reading this site (fanboy) is going to feel like they got their money's worth with The Dark World. There are plenty of nerd nuggets peppered throughout that keep it interesting, and it concludes with a post credit cameo that will make you want to stand up and cheer. However, the wasted potential of this film is what stood out most unfortunately. By respecting the audience a little more, and taking out all of the unfunny, forced jokes, it could have easily ranked near the top of the superhero genre. There was also that little problem of a coherent and cohesive plot that left this film lacking, but this seemed to be mostly due to the editing. There areprobably a plethera of deleted scenes that fleshed The Dark World out; it was abundantly clear that it was definitely missing something. Prognosis: Average, disappointingly average.