Marvel Studios continues to bring “the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” to life and they are making each film so layered that it is hard to remember that not so long ago, this would have been laughed at as a story for a movie. The latest installment of the Marvel universe to come to life is “Thor: the Dark World” and it is a glorious treatment of the Nine Realms once more. To those that don’t know, Spiderman and the X-Men titles are not yet owned by Marvel Studios – which means you can disregard that crap.
Thor’s 2nd installment in his own franchise brings more of Asgard to life. It helps to fill in the gaps of story, like why didn’t Thor come back to Earth after the events of “The Avengers” (aka. the alien invasion of NYC). Here’s the scoop. When last we saw Asgard, the Bifrost Bridge had been destroyed. So like how did Thor even get back to Earth to take place in the Avengers? Well, as it turns out, Heimdall (played once more by the great Idris Elba) has managed to fix the Bifrost. So why didn’t Thor come swooshing out of the sky and go hook up with his girlfriend back on Earth? Well, since the events of “Thor” – you know, where the heir to the throne was banished to Earth, the other prince turned traitor & blew up the Bifrost, and King Odin went into a coma-like sleep – Thor has been a little busy running all over the Nine Realms trying to put things back in order. It seems like Loki inadvertently caused a massive rebellion all over the Nine Realms. It was up to the son of Odin to bring some order back to the place.
The nice part about Marvel Studios work is that they are truly connecting the dots. I just connected the 1st “Thor” movie to “the Avengers” to “Thor: the Dark World” in one paragraph! Interesting, right? Oh but it gets better! In the 1st few minutes of this film, we are getting this recap of events to nicely tie everything together. They also show Thor isn’t doing this alone. He is bringing order to the Nine Realms with the help of the Warriors Three! Oh, sorry – to those that don’t know, the Warriors Three are Volstag the Voluminous, Fandral, and Hogun the Grim, and they are Thor’s best buds. Oh, and they are accompanied also by the fair Lady Sif. (As an aside note, Lady Sif is the WIFE of Thor in Norse mythology.) Throughout the movie, you get to see the friends of Thor being badasses but also doing what friends do – supporting their friend. To the discerning viewer, you will notice that Fandral is not played by Josh Dallas any longer (that would be Prince Charming from TV’s Once Upon a Time) and is instead played by the Zachary Levi (from TV’s Less Than Perfect and the most awesome series in a LONG time Chuck).
I guess my 2nd question in relation to the story was “what about Jane Foster?” Where did she go? What’s been happening with her? Very next segment of the film was picking up with Jane in London. Boom. Like that, all my questions about continuity involving the story were answered. I applaud Marvel for this – because it is an honest rarity. Jane is in London tracking anomalies that – you guessed it – might be something like when she discovered when Thor came to Earth. So, not only did Marvel answer my question directly, they even told you why – another rarity in storytelling.
So, in the 1st 5 minutes of the movie, they give you the back story of the villain of this movie and explain the motivations behind said bad guy. In the next half an hour, they answer all continuity questions and brought all characters up to speed. Now that we are all caught up with who’s been doing what and why, and who the bad guy is and why he is coming after everybody – let’s begin with the plot of this film and start laying waste to Earth and Asgard, shall we?
In the first film, Thor’s homeland of Asgard basically looks like Norse Heaven and seems pretty friggin’ impregnable. (It’s only because Loki is Mr. Sneaky Man that trouble gets in.) Well, you can kiss that idea good-bye in “Thor the Dark World” because when the bad guy comes after what he needs (which is with Jane Foster…who was brought home for safekeeping by Thor), it is a full-on attack by the creepy Dark Elves. We’ve got Heimdall attacking a spaceship with a sword! The throne gets used as a crash landing site. The prison suffers a jailbreak. The worst though is the leader bad guy, Malekith, attacking Thor’s mother Frigga (whom happens to be defending Jane Foster). I liked this because it made the bad guys seem almost unstoppable. If they can attack Asgard like that, what hope would any place else have? Imagine if they attacked Earth? Because – you guessed it – that’s exactly where they are going.
I won’t get into the details of the film; I’d rather you experience it for yourself. Suffice to say, it was incredibly well designed. It is constructed in solid, believable steps that take you on the journey. And when you are talking about Asgard and Thor, being “believable” can be daunting to say the least. Kudos to both the writers and the director for deftly handling this material and giving us another slam dunk of an installment in the Marvel Studio Universe. So, Alan Taylor takes the helm for Kenneth Brannagh – and does a marvelous job. Story by Dan Payne and Robert Rodat – great job guys!
As for the acting, Chris Hemsworth will be Thor for his lifetime. He’s too perfect for the role. He LOOKS like Thor should. His voice seems utterly fitting for his role and Anthony Hopkins as his father Odin is still a stellar call in my opinion! The good news is that the action doesn’t tell the story here. The actors do. Thor cries for the loss of family, Odin gets bitter, people go mad, death seems everywhere at times – and the acting takes you there emotionally. I’ll be honest, I thought the Dark Elves were going to be stupid and like another alien kind of thing, but it all worked so well that I didn’t want this movie to end!
The best funny moments come from characters like Fandral and Loki and of course Dr. Erik Selvig. Loki imitating Captain America was hysterical! The levity of these scenes helps anchor the film – for while it may not be as grand in scope as “the Avengers” it certainly had that weighty feeling of big evil threatened whole universe. I think that’s why I really appreciated those moments. Tom Hiddleston is utterly superb once more as the scheming and deceitful Loki.
Truth is, this film is principally about Thor’s relationships – be it with his father, mother, friends, girlfriend, or estranged brother. I have to hand it to Marvel for striving to bring us quality when so much other shlock could have been done (see here “X-Men: First Class” or “the Wolverine” or worse still “The Amazing Spider-Man”). The Studio has worked vigorously to not only give us action and thrills, but also the real character-building. This way, when “Avengers 2” comes out, you aren’t left saying “I wish Thor had more screen time – they didn’t get to do much with his character.” I like that a LOT.
“Thor: the Dark World” is way better than advertised, and the trailer just doesn’t give you enough. Forget waiting to rent this one, go and see it on the big screen if you still can! You’ll be happy you did!
…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.