Thor: The Dark World

Spouse and I went to see Thor: The Dark World. I hadn’t realized it was 3D. I was a little wary. 3D still seems gimmicky to me. Do you need it to tell the story? In The Dark World, the answer is “no,” but I liked about eighty percent of the 3D stuff. More about that later.

Here are some reasons to see it:

It’s funny: The script has lots of humor, and much of it comes from Thor’s wicked, deceptive brother Loki. Eric the Pantsless Physicist brings plenty of humor, along with Darcy, Jane’s intern.

It’s pretty:  Whether it’s the rainbow bridge to Asgaard, the palace itself, the swirling wreath of crimson-magenta smoke/liquid that forms the Ether; whether it’s the elegant mask-faces of the dark elves or Rene Russo’s glorious costumes, every inch of this movie is pretty. Even abandoned car parks in Croydon, England are lovely.

It’s smart (sometimes): Okay, not all the time. Thor is good-looking, a caring guy who means well, but he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, especially when it comes to his brother. He seems to have inherited the bone-headedness from his father. Odin, why are you arguing with your son about Jane? She’s a human, not an Asgaardian, as you are fond of pointing out repeatedly. Stop forbidding the relationship. Tell Thor to go have a good time – Jane’ll be dead in fifty or sixty years and then Thor can marry the bride you picked out for him.(Odin, in between wars, disapproving of your son’s girlfriends, and talking to your ravens you might want to do a bit of self-reflection and figure out why neither of your sons is ready to rule.)

Jane, though, is still pretty smart, and the plan that Thor puts together to defeat the king of the dark elves isn’t half bad. Eric, Jane and the team baffle the villain with science in a climax that kept reminding me, for some reason, of Doctor Who. I wonder why. Oh, I know why – because we are following three duos running/flying in circles, facing a nihilistic villain. Very Whovesque.

It’s got Hugin! Or Munin. Okay, I don’t really know which one, but it’s one of Odin’s ravens.

It’s got five-star villains: Christopher Eccleston seethes rage despite the full-body make up and the fact that he only gets about three lines in English – the rest are subtitled. Despite these drawbacks, Eccleston creates an elegant and crazy adversary.

Loki, who is a villain and a hero both, is played with Shakespearean verve by Tom Hiddleston – and he rocks.

It’s got a lot of pretty, pretty boys. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are easy on the eyes. Idris Elba as Heimdall isn’t too shabby either, and he’s got that cool armor.

Spouse was forced to get by with Natalie Portman, Renee Russo and Jaime Alexander in her form-fitting armor, but he thought that was all right.

Near the climactic ending, Malekith the dark elf is tearing things up in Grennwich*, England. Spouse said, “He couldn’t just bring the ship in twenty feet higher and spare the real estate?” After the battle was over, he said, “Now, who’s going to clean all that up?”

(My guess? SHIELD.)
Some reasons not to see it:

It’s got 3D.  This isn’t reason enough to skip the movie if you like Thor. The 3D enhances many, many scenes, and even the ones that are only in there for 3D reasons (stable gravity anomaly in a stairwell, anyone?) look really cool. Many, perhaps most, of the fight scenes and action sequences are improved by the multi-dimensional look.  The subtitles for Malekith the villain  float with sinister intensity in midair. Very nice. Once in a while, though, usually during conversational scenes, the effect was jarring. In one sequence, Fregga is talking to Loki. She is facing us; Loki is partially in-scene, just the back of his head and his arm showing. The arm seemed both out of proportion and intrusive. It was disturbing. It felt like Loki had just jabbed his elbow into my face.

On the other hand, in a later scene Odin walks into his devastated feasting hall and looks down the rows of shadowy, ruined columns. Between him and us we see shadows of broken stone and pottery, while he gazes at the chiaroscuro tableau in front of him. This would be a good image in 2-D. In 3-D, it is wonderful.

I have to put the new cool glasses over my regular glasses, which means I always leave with a slight eyestrain headache. It this case it was worth it, but I’m not happy about it.

It’s got nihilistic villains. Can somebody at the Intergalactic Conglomeration of Nogoodniks (ICON) please talk to the Nihilist contingent? They do understand, don’t they, that destroying the universe, or all reality, destroys them too, right? I mean, who’s left to write about them and talk about them on The Daily Show? I think they haven’t thought this through. While Malekith may have said that his world, the Dark World, will remain, I didn’t catch that and I sure don’t understand why. Give me good old-fashioned I Will Rule the Universe Like Ming the Merciless villains any day. Them I can understand.

If Thor: The Dark World is released in 2D I may even see it again. I enjoyed it, and particularly enjoyed seeing how all the tent-stakes for Thor III were pounded in.

*Which is, I think, kind of a cool in-joke about gravity, relativity and time.

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