Tuesday, May 19, 2015
I don't think that I've ever written a review of Thor - The Dark World, the second Thor movie which came out a few years ago. I was not in a movie-going mood when it dropped and I took forever to get around to seeing it on television. I finally did and was perfectly okay with it.
Many months ago I caught it on DVR and saved it up because I also caught the original Thor on another channel and I planned to watch them back-to-back. I finally did, about three months later. Something about these movies just doesn't make me eager to see them, but maybe I'm over that.
The second Thor movie is much darker than its predecessor with a more gritty presentation of the Nine Worlds than we saw before. That works most of the time and is in keeping with the tone and theme of the flick. This one seems to use a great deal more CG to create its universe and that is what visually differentiates these movies for me.
The action in Dark World is very modern, with broad sweeping CG vistas filled with impossible images of creatures and machines ripping up the world around them. Great stuff with a really nice vivid quality to it.
But the acting in Dark World is not as crisp as the first flick, and the motivations of the heroes and especially the villains seems much murkier. Thor of course is mopey because he didn't get to see Jane when he was on Earth in the Avengers movie. But it seems odd that he doesn't go back before he does so (with little difficulty) in this movie.
My biggest gripe about this movie is that the Dark Elves are exceedingly poorly motivated. They are presented as evil baddies from a time before time when I guess such badness was normal and so they want to make everyone as miserable as they seem to be. Malekith in particular (played neatly by Chris Eccleston) just does what a villain is supposed to do. I don't blame the actor for this, it seems to have been just the way the script was developed.
The Warriors Three get some short shrift, especially Hogun, but there are a big lot of characters to deal with. I'd have loved to have seen Balder this time, but if he's there I missed him. Heimdall gets a lot of screen time and Idris Elba earns it, though he seems less weird and alien in this second outing.
But what I really took away from this second watching of the two Thor movies is how much richer the first one is than I remembered. It was always a movie I liked, but I found it a bit slick and too fascinated with surfaces. I was rather wrong on that front I think.
The acting in Thor is really really strong and the depth of emotion on display is surprisingly high for a superhero sci-fi fantasy movie. The relationship between Thor and Odin, and especially between Thor and Loki is vibrant and has layers and depth which takes time to ponder and evaluate. Great stuff which gets at the heart of what makes the Thor saga so resonant over the years.
And the smallness of some aspects of the movie which struck me as unimpressive on the big screen work much much better on the smaller one I use at home. The slickness of Asgard comes across as a shiny whole and with greater luster than I first gave credit for. And the one-horse town which serves as the Earth setting (once upon a time the town known as "Silverado" in fact) is much more convincing on the small screen. What looked cheesy a few years ago on the sliver screen comes across as warm and inviting on the TV screen.
I found that much to my surprise, I liked the original Thor more than ever thanks for a greater appreciation on my part for the classic elements of movie storytelling like classic set design and really outstanding acting. The director Kenneth Branagh really made his mark on that movie and it resonates still.