Monday, April 7, 2014

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

JohnnyTwoToes finds the charisma missing in this second installment

Thor : The Dark World picks up several months (maybe even years) after the last film ended. Thor (Chris Hemsworthhas gone back to Asgard to try and salvage peace among the Nine Realms that are seemingly always at war with SOMEONE. Jane (Natalie Portman) and Darcy (Kat Dennings) have gone to England to do further research on the unknowns of space and time with their teacher Eric Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard). When Darcy and her new intern, Ian find some kind of wormhole in an abandon warehouse in England that is when the proverbial crap hits the fan. Soon the Dark Elves have awoken, not in the best of moods and battle for the Aether that has possessed Jane for some reason. Thor must return to try and save the Earth and the Nine Realms. 

I was not that impressed by the first Thor film. It had its moments and was not a bad film, I just did not get into it as much as everyone else did. I did however, thoroughly enjoy The Avengers which was a great film. Thor: The Dark World has some of the same elements as the first film as well as some fairly clever comedy sprinkled throughout. It also has some references to other characters from The Avengers that are kind of clever, as well. Where I seem to loose interest is when the film gets bogged down with so much detail we don't need about the Aether, the Nine Realms, the coming alignment of the Nine Realms, all of the scientific mumbo jumbo that is spewed throughout this film and the film's heavy reliance, once again on visuals. 

Thor: The Dark World joins the lists of countless other big budget films that are overstuffed with snazzy visuals, extravagant production values and sets. These films then suffocate and become as stale as the croutons in my cupboard. The Avengers, Captain America, the Iron Man franchise all are heavy on the production side of the film BUT they have intelligent scripts that incorporate the visuals in a matter that enhance the story rather than stifle it. They also have interesting characters that interact with the visuals in a convincing way so that we accept the visuals as part of the story and even as a character in itself. 

No one seems to be having any fun in Thor 2. Alan Taylor, who replaced Patty Jenkins as director in 2011 siting 'creative differences', had only directed Ian Holm in The Emperor's New Clothes(2001) as his biggest film. He has only 3 or 4 directed films on his resume, still he shows promise as a director and Thor 2 does have it moments, as well. There are some funny bits but as soon as we start getting into the characters and the story, here comes another special visual effect to break the magic. 

Natalie Portman looks like she would rather be anywhere but here and as I read some of the background on the production of Thor 2, she was so angry that Patty Jenkins was replaced and she tried to get out of the film until the studio reminded her she was under contract. I guess she saw what was coming. 

Thor 2 to its credit is a nice looking film and the visuals and production values are no doubt impressive. They have put some thought into the details of creating a fresh new world(s) on how the Nine Realms looks - the Dark Elves are truly malicious looking and the action is well staged. The problem is the script is heavily weighted on things most of the viewer (myself included) could not understand or even care about. I mean we get overall but it is detail overkill. For that I place the responsibility on director Taylor and script writers Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely with the story by Don Payne and Robert Rodat. It is simply a little too much. 

Thor: The Dark World is a nice attempt and does some things well, is well acted and Brian Tyler's score is a lush orchestral score that fits the film nicely. It is too bad that it is all dressed up with nowhere to go. Thor: The Dark World-**1/2 out of 4


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