Dateline v. Thor: The Dark World


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Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Rated PG-13: For Intense Violence, and Minimal Sensitive Themes

Running Time: 112 minutes (1 hour and 52 minutes)

Genre/s: Action, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Superhero

Released on November 8, 2013 (US Release Date; Available for Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Motion Picture Studios



"Thor" Created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby



Writers: Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, Don Payne, and Robert Rodat

Director: Alan Taylor

Starring:
  • Chris Hemsworth as Thor Odinson
  • Natalie Portman as Jane Foster
  • Tom Hiddleston as Loki Laufeyson
  • Anthony Hopkins as Odin Borson
  • Idris Elba as Heimdall
  • Christopher Eccleston as Malekith the Accursed
  • Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Algrim the Strong / Kurse
  • Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig
  • Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis
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Countdown to Avengers: Infinity War continues with the most forgettable , Marvel Cinematic Universe movie since probably The Incredible Hulk, and that one is still much better. In case it is not yet obvious, this is my personal least favorite flick.

This film has been accused of being "extremely corporate", as it only exists for one reason, and one reason only, and that is to serve as an approximate two-hour long filler episode until Avengers: Age of Ultron. With the All-Father's good graces, we will see if the critics and fans are right to forget all about it. Welcome back to Dateline Movies, and movie court is now in session for the case of Dateline v. Thor: The Dark World.

If you still have not watched this flick, it best that you remain in the dark, because spoilers are up ahead.



What is the movie about?

After putting an end to the sinister plans of his adoptive brother, the God of Mischief Loki, played by Hiddleston (The Night Manager), Thor, played by Hemsworth (The Cabin in the Woods), has some catching-up to do. Not only does he have to restore peace to all of the Nine Realms after the Bifrost, Asgard's primary source of interstellar travel that is monitored by Heimdall, played by Elba (The Mountain Between Us), was destroyed not so long ago, leaving the rest of the universe unguarded by Asgardians, Thor must also reconnect with his friends from Earth, including Erik Selvig, played by Skarsgård (Cinderella), Darcy Lewis, played by Dennings (To Write Love on Her Arms), and most especially his girlfriend Jane Foster, played by Portman (Jackie), and help them in their latest scientific quest.

When Jane is unwillingly dragged onto a malevolent plot by the Dark Elf Malekith, the Accursed, played by Eccleston (28 Days Later), who, alongside his right-hand Elf Algrim the Strong, played by Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Suicide Squad) plans to plunge the entire universe in a new dark age, Thor must join forces with Loki, and must decide if he should choose a life on Asgard, and takeover the place of his father Odin, played by Hopkins (Fracture), as the king of Asgard, or stay and be with Jane.

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What we think of the movie?

The Defense:
  • At least the visuals are much more polished than the last time.
There are a lot of things that I seriously dislike about this film, and I do mean several. But since this is a movie review, I ought to go through some of the only good things that I see in this movie, and that is the updated visuals, costume designs included, for this flick.

I guess the production team really took it up a notch when it comes to the fantasy side, almost. They all managed to add a little bit more color through the use of eye-catching C.G.I., and costumes and set-pieces ripped straight out of someone as imaginative as J.R.R. Tolkien. I personally do love the technology used by the Dark Elves, because their displays and the looks of their battleships make me feel, a little, as if that I am watching something as epic in scope as Star Trek. The newer designs for Asgard are also a huge plus for me, as well as for one of the monsters, the rock creature Kronan. The make-up department really did a massively brilliant job with the looks of Malekith and Algrim, and when I first saw this film, I was blown away by the sheer greatness that is the visual fruits of labor.

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    • Some of the performances are alright, I guess.

    And again, both Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston bring their A-Game to the table. What makes Hiddleston's performance much more interesting is the unnecessary focus on his character, giving him a story arc that fleshes-out his character. Through Hiddleston, he is able to convey Loki in an even more sympathetic light by making us realize that somewhere in there, there is just one guy who is incredibly desperate for love. You really cannot help but feel bad when he dies (although faked), and Thor actually thought that he died for real this time. The emotional delivery of both actors, especially Hemsworth's massive no, really do take this one scene home, effectively making it the scene with the most impact in the entire flick.



    You know what? To make things less complicated, let us just say that every scene where both Thor and Loki interact on-screen, including the two's escape from Asgard's guardsmen, after Thor breaks Loki out of prison in order to aid him in their quest to kill the bad guys who murdered their mother Frigga, played by Rene Russo (In the Line of Fire), is just priceless, and you really cannot deny the brotherly, foil-based chemistry that the two actors have. And that scene when Loki shape-shifted into Captain America, played by Chris Evans (Gifted), is absolutely funny, and it really is sad that this is the funniest scene in the flick.

    I also have to give credit to both Christopher Eccleston and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje for being able to not laugh and convincingly portray the Dark Elves while reciting various made-up lines through the use of a totally made-up language. Also, when I first saw this film not so long ago, I was, at first, really impressed with the way Eccleston managed to a rather intimidating force at the beginning of the film. It really is also such a waste that his performance is all for not, which now brings us to the many, or at least five of my summarized complaints on the film.


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    The Prosecution:
    • All the side-characters are still boring, even after they debuted, and even Thor, of all characters, has nothing to do here.
    And even after their debut at Thor, absolutely no one else gets any form of character development, and you can blame all of that at the film's huge emphasis on Loki, who is not only the only character in the whole film to get a unique story arc, which involves his supposed redemption, but is also now the most popular character just behind Iron Man at the time. It is because of these two factors that made Loki the unofficial protagonist in this film, and leaving Thor the unofficial side-character of his own movie.

    Heck, do you even remember anything that is worth mentioning with regards to any of the Warriors Three? No, unless you count helping Thor and Loki escape from Asgard while making cheesy jokes as "memorable". They should have at least participated in the final battle in London, but no, because apparently Thor's best friends are not as important as the three random human scientists that he only met on a couple of days, with one of them even having an underdeveloped and rushed romance with him. Also, I will just say it. All of the human characters are lame! And if not lame, they are really infuriating to the point that I and my sister will just call them the Marvel Cinematic Universe versions of Jar Jar Binks of the Star Wars franchise. (I am looking at you, Darcy Lewis). Why letting the humans participate in the battle is such a good idea for Alan Taylor and the rest of the team, when the more qualified Warriors Three could have joined the battle is beyond me.

    With regards to Thor being a side-character, he really does not get any arc at all. In Thor, it is all about the hero trying to learn to be humble. In Thor: Ragnarok, it is all about the hero trying to learn to be independent of his trademark weapon of choice and confront the ugly truths of the past. What does Thor: The Dark World have for the God of Thunder you ask? Nothing. Absolutely nothing but to search for another plot device that is supposed to do something cataclysmic. We do get a hint of one potential story-arc though, and that is Thor's internal conflict on deciding whether or not he should finally take over as the king of Asgard, which you can notice through some exchanges of dialogue between Thor, Heimdall, Odin, and Jane Foster, and it is immediately abandoned once we start focusing on Loki and the unnecessary inclusion of Jane Foster. Even after Loki vanishes midway through the film, we barely get to see Thor develop as a character. With no story arc, the audience has no reason to care for the central protagonist, and Hemsworth's efforts are all for nothing.


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    • Even the action feels as soulless the film's humor. (Forced-in realism is forced-in.)
    I did mention that the designs are epic, but by Odin's beard do the action scenes feel really tedious. None of the action scenes, no matter how visually dazzling are some of them, have actual stakes, and they feel more like another mandatory levels in a video game that I have to go through in order to get to the actually interesting parts.

    One of my main problems with some of the fight scenes, notably when both Thor and Loki encounter Malekith and Algrim in Svartalfheim, and the final battle with Malekith, who is using the "Aether", yet another plot device clearly meant to substitute the Tesseract. Both scenes feature too much smoke, and it gets pretty uninteresting to look at is if all I see is computer-generated dust particles flying through the air. The shots are really dusty, it really butchers the thrills that the scenes are aiming to generate, and it really does not help that I cannot see anything outside of dusty red and gray.

    My other complaint with regards to the action is the painful predictability, which is the fault mostly of the film's plot, with the screenplay co-written by ... the writers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier? What the heck? How could this film have such a boring story when they already have the two screenwriters responsible for making the script for one of the greatest Marvel Cinematic Universe films yet?

    Anyway, about the predictability, you can clearly see the consequences from a mile away, such as Frigga, a very minor presence in the two movies, getting killed by Algrim after staging a riot. The predictability is fused with unrealistically cartoonish fight sequence ideas such as random teleportation all across the Nine Realms, and even London, to cookie-cutter realism such as having Thor fight he escapees from the Asgardian prison not entirely by using his powers, which kind-of makes sense considering that he could do a huge amount of damage. Honestly, I really do not know how they managed to make any scene, be it unrealistic or realistic, really stake-free.

    The only fight scenes that I enjoyed is when Malekith first invaded Asgard and staged a prison break, and Thor and Loki's escape from Asgard. But due to the aforementioned flaws, they all feel, in the end, despite the efforts of the cast, overly underwhelming. And I thought Iron Man 2 had underwhelming action sequences.

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    • Malekith is the dullest evil character in the history of movies.
    Here we are with everybody's least favorite M.C.U. villain since ... ever, probably even less so than both Whiplash, played by Mickey Rourke (Animal Factory), and Emil Blonsky, played by Tim Roth (Pulp Fiction). What does he want really? Why does he want to plunge the world into darkness? Why does he even need the Aether to do that? Could he not have used an even more convinient doomsday artifcat to advance his plans? Should we care? No, because the film will not even give the slightest care in all of the Nine Realms for you to even root for him, and because there is not a single ounce of character development at all. Okay fine, he might know that the Aether is the Infinity Stone of Reality, which pretty much does what you might expect a "Reality Stone" could do, but other than that, why even bother even after Odin's father hidden it away? He is just a presence that needs to be defeated just because, no more, no less. Look, I am not entirely familiar with this character, but from what I have heard, he is somewhat of an average deal in the comics, so wasting a practically menacing villain in yet another lifeless role is just so heartbreaking.

    There really is no reason left for me to make this section longer. Malekith is lame, and my least favorite M.C.U. villain, and that is all you need to know.

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    • Some of the other performances feel incredibly lackluster.
    I have read a little about how Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Eccleston, and probably even Idris Elba, having little to no interest with ever returning to the franchise, and you really cannot shake that feeling when you see all of them perform here. While Portman and Hopkins delivered with everything they could have, their work here is less than noteworthy, with Portman losing all form of romantic chemistry that was established in Thor, while Hopkins is not given remotely anything to do, unlike the last time, when he gets a single standout scene. This can also be blamed on the screenplay, but even without blaming the film in general, you can just feel that some of them, at least not Hopkins and Elba, who somewhat placed minimal effort, are not even trying, and it is not that hard to see why not.

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      • There is such a thing as too much jokes. Right, Marvel?
      Yes, pre-independent Marvel, there is such a thing as too much unnecessary jokes. You can say the same thing with Thor: Ragnarok, but most them are hilarious, and they even add some forms of character development for each of the characters. But here, the humor is all sorts of annoying, and this effectively ruined the movie for me. The only funny moment for me was Captain America's surprise cameo, and a little on the part when Mjolnir is placed on a coat hanger.

      From jokes such as being teleported midway in battle to a London subway station and instead of flying, which is a superpower of Thor's, he takes the subway, to gags such as playing Erik Selvig's brainwashing trauma for laughs, even going as far as being naked in the public eye while at one point doing some research, the jokes ate just screaming annoying at first glance. Each of them know how to kill a decent moment, and it all comes crashing down by the finale, with even more jokes.


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      The Ruling: Guilty!

      Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are brilliant as ever, but even they are not enough to save Thor: The Dark World from succumbing to uninspired humor and flat storytelling, and the inevitable truth that it is all a marketing ploy.


      Overall, this is corporate meddling at its second finest. Although we all know how too much creative freedom for Alan Taylor could be such a bad thing,(Ahem, Terminator: Genisys, ahem.), we can never really be certain if Taylor could have given us a better film, or an even worse one. 

      And by this time, Avengers: Infinity War will be showing in a couple of hours, and you bet that we will be reviewing it the first thing we see the film. In the meantime, while you wait for that post, and all the other posts for the remaining Phase 2 films, here is one more Marvel One-Shot. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!

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