It’s weekend movie time! This week, a movie about time travel goes up against a story about sibling rivalry. You’d be surprised to know which movie is which. Thor: The Dark World is sure to rule at the box office for the next few weeks until Catching Fire takes the November crown.
Thor Colon The Dark World
Remember the first Thor flick? Neither does anyone else. I recently went to a screening of Thor 2 and the movie went on for 7 minutes before most people (including the kid running the projector) knew that they were running the first Thor. I always thought the 2011 movie was forgettable, but that pretty much nailed it.
Let’s be honest for a second. The first Thor movie was only made as a lead-in for The Avengers. It wanted to establish B-list hero Thor into the pantheon of Marvel heroes and they did an adequate (at best) job. Imagine if The Avengers was a bad movie. It would, in turn, make Thor, Iron Man 2 and Captain America look like a big waste of time and money.
In the first movie, Thor was cast down to Earth for 3 days as punishment for his arrogance. In that time, he fell in love, took off his shirt and saved a ghost town in New Mexico from a destructive robot being controlled by his jealous brother Loki.
In The Dark World, Thor can’t stop pining for Natalie Portman. Just as he’s thinking about her, she is conveniently drawn into the plot as she is sent through a portal to a mysterious tomb and gets infected with Black Cherry Shasta. This Shasta (the movie calls it Aether) is the substance that a hibernating dark elf king, Malekith, needs in order to destroy all light in the 9 realms. But the only time he can use Shasta to destroy the universe is during the cosmic planetary collision, which only happens every 5,000 years. This realm collision is coincidentally happening in a few days.
Meanwhile, as Thor tries to save the girl he knew for 3 days and the rest of Asgard, he seeks the help of his imprisoned brother Loki. Together, they try to prevent the Black Cherry darkness from swallowing the 9 realms and also take down Malekith and his gang of doll-faced elves.
As enjoyable as that synopsis was to write, it may be twice as fun as the actual movie. Thor 2 is a far better experience that the dull original, but there’s little here to amaze you and capture the excitement you have seen in other, better comic flicks.
Something has happened in the past 3 Thor-involved movies. He has progressively become an extremely dull character that sucks the life out of every scene. While Tom Hiddleston, as Loki, has become the saving grace. I’d argue he’s second only to Robert Downey Jr in terms of captivating performances in the Marvel universe. Every time that Loki was on screen, he makes you forget about your general apathy for the series. While it may be considered overkill, he deserves a movie far more than Thor.
Though I must nitpick. (Isn’t what this entire review is, you ask?) Loki had been established as the only good villain in phase 1 of the Marvel movies. In Thor 2, however, he is nothing more than comic relief. He’s still very watchable, but he’s only there to provide one-liners. I think Marvel has a major issue with making the audience hate a character when the actor has become so popular. Now that Loki is an anti-hero, Marvel officially has zero good movie villains (until Ultron perhaps).
Something odd happened to Natalie Portman’s character in the two years that she was separated from Thor. She is now a flighty tween/serious researcher. Basically, her character is so inconsistent, you’d swear she suffers with multiple personalities. For some reason, Kat Dennings (that character you wanted to die in the first one) is back and has more scenes. I was actually happy to see Rene Russo, as Frigga (Thor’s mom) get more screen time. She makes great use of the time she gets.
Christopher Eccleston plays Malekith as a standard “destroy them all” villain. There’s nothing particularly special about him, nor menacing for that matter. He’s basically there to move the action along. Though, he does have a sidekick, who is basically Goro from Mortal Kombat (same bad effects and everything). So that was nice to see.
While I’ve been beating up on this movie, there are good things about it. Director Noah Taylor gives us a far better picture of Asgard and raises the threat level. General audiences will eat this movie up because it will keep their attention and is fairly action packed. Ladies will enjoy this movie because Thor takes his shirt off within five minutes of the movie starting.
There are too many false moments meant to shock the crowd and, because it’s a kids movie, they are fixed immediately. Thor: The Dark World is better paced than the first movie. You can almost play “spot the Whedon” when this movie adds ill-fitting humor into scenes that would have played better without it. I’m honestly tired of the Whedon influence in this universe.
So, to summarize; Black Cherry Shasta, Goro, Kat Dennings and a funny Loki. That said, this is okay. It holds the vanilla standard of its predecessors proudly. Even though most will see this in the theater (please don’t do 3D), it’s more of a rental that is worth the price of Redbox.
Also, the mid-credits stinger will have you asking your friends what is happening, much like the Avenger Thanos moment. Let’s just say, after Captain America 2 comes out, things are about to get weird in the Marvel universe.
It’s a shame that this movie has such a forgettable title because it’s such a memorable movie. This should come as no surprise, but I’m not a fan of romantic comedies. They are the worst genre, in my opinion, because there is so much fluff out there. I have a very short list of romantic comedies that I like. One writer/director that seems to nail the genre is Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Notting Hill, Pirate Radio).
In About Time, loveable loser Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) is told the family secret. His father (Bill Nighy) informs him that every male member of the family has the ability to travel through time to any previous moment in their lives. While Tim explores this new skill, he chooses to use it not for money or self-importance, but to get a girlfriend. After a failed experiment, he meets Mary (Rachel McAdams) and they quickly hit it off. And when situations don’t go as well as planned, he manipulates time and gets a redo. That is truly only the beginning for this couple and this movie becomes a look at the importance of family.
Wow, that sounds incredibly cheesy right? I assure you it has the perfect amount of British charm to carry the sickeningly sweet messages. I don’t get emotional in movies all that often, but this one go me choked up at the end. No tears I assure you, but I may have had to clear my throat to cover the sighs trying to escape.
Domhnall Gleeson (Anna Karenina, Never Let Me Go) is a perfect leading man. He doesn’t have to force the awkwardness that this role needs, neither is he that out of his range when he figures it all out. I’ve never been impressed by Rachel McAdams. She comes off as bland in nearly every role. While I would have preferred another lead actress in About Time, she and Gleeson had plenty of chemistry Having her in the movie will help audiences, who aren’t familiar with Curtis’s other films, discover this romantic gem.
Seriously, who knew that I’d be praising a romance over a superhero flick? The difference between these two movies is that one was crafted with care and wit throughout, while the other is just another haphazard movie to keep fans busy while they wait for Avengers 2.
About Time is rated R. It’s unfortunate considering the family theme of the movie. A topless poster of Kate Moss is seen on screen for around a minute and there are 4 F words.
If you love British comedies that wear their hearts on their sleeves, then you will love About Time. It is one of my favorite movies of the year and well worth seeing.