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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
First thoughts on THOR: THE DARK WORLD

At this point, you ought to know whether or not you like Marvel's particular approach to superhero movies. I do. If you also liked the rest of the Marvel Universe films, you'll like THOR: THE DARK WORLD - and likely rate it among the best of the films in the series.

Director Alan Taylor's THE DARK WORLD is an decided improvement on Kenneth Branagh's THOR, which was hampered by having to do too many things within its running time: the backstory of war with the frost giants, revelations about Loki's true nature, the romance with Jane Foster (and wacky Midgard hi-jinx that ensued), some business with the Destroyer, etc. All of that got in the way of presenting a convincing character arc for Thor himself, who had, all told, maybe ten minutes of time actually devoted to his transformation from glory-hungry barbarian to self-sacrificing guardian of mortals. If you're a fan of the comics, you know this is how it has to go, but cinematically, it was not particularly well-done. That's forgivable, since the noble, stoic Thor we ended up with is really the character we wanted all along, but still, it made the movie less enjoyable

In THE DARK WORLD, after a little bit of naked exposition (obviously reminiscent of the prologue to Peter Jackson's Fellowship of the Ring), we are able to get right into it: the Nine Worlds exist, and we get to visit quite a few of them. (There's even a scene in Vanaheim, which is traditionally the most boringest plane of existence in Marvel Asgard.) There's very little apologizing for the fantastic elements in this film; there's no self-consciousness in the Asgard scenes. Design-wise, this film embraces the "science fantasy" aesthetic even more than previous installments have: I can see a lot of STAR WARS in this film. And this completely works! While easily lampooned as Vikings... in... spaaaaaaace!, I found the design of both Asgard and the Dark Elves' weaponry, armor, and space ships to be delightfully imaginative. They have flying longships, folks, complete with shields hanging off the sides. The settings are equally impressive: Svartalfheim (simply called "The Dark World" in the film because, well, Svartalfheim doesn't quite roll off the tongue) is a sepia-skied waste of black sand, Vanaheim is a rugged wilderness, and Asgard continues in its golden glory

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Archer
    Archer says #
    I am warming to the Vikings in Space design and now, like you, find Asgard convincing and original and sort of Maxfield Parish/N,C
  • Eric O. Scott
    Eric O. Scott says #
    The last of Loki's "disguises" during his dialogue with Thor.

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