Monday, November 25, 2013

Thor: The Dark World




Based on the comics by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Larry Lieber, Thor: The Dark World is the story about Thor facing an ancient enemy who threatens to destroy his home planet of Asgard following a chilling discovery from Jane Foster that would threaten everything. Directed by Alan Taylor and screenplay by Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, and Stephen McFeeley from a screen story by Don Payne and Robert Rodat. The film is a sequel to 2011’s Thor where the titular character deals with new enemies and the responsibility of taking over the throne of Asgard from his father Odin as Chris Hemsworth reprises the role of Thor. Also starring Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgard, Rene Russo, Idris Elba, Jaimie Alexander, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Chris O’Dowd, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano, and Anthony Hopkins as Odin. Thor: The Dark World is a sensational yet entertaining film from Alan Taylor.

The film is about an ancient enemy known as Dark Elves who suddenly find themselves returning after Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) discovered some portals that led her to a world where a dark mystical power was seeped into her. When Thor learns about what Jane discovered, he takes her back to Asgard so that his father King Odin can see if he can help only to realize that the Dark Elves led by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) is only keen on destroying the universe after being nearly wiped away by Odin’s father Bor (Tony Curran). What the film does is have Thor take risks in not just saving his planet and Jane but also the universe where he realizes that he has to do things that his father wouldn’t do that would include getting the help from his estranged adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston).

The film’s screenplay does take its time to showcase Thor’s growth into this warrior who definitely seems more grounded in the previous film as he becomes a much more mature individual who is also quite witty but still longs for Jane. When Heimdall (Idris Elba) tells Thor that he couldn’t see Jane, it has Thor trying to figure what is happening to her while there’s something far more sinister that is happening just as all nine realms are to line up for this event known as the Convergence where all portals from the nine realms are to open. With Malekith re-awaken, he decides to use this moment as well as Jane’s discovery of the dark power known as Aether to rebuild the world of the Dark Elves and regain darkness back to the universe. While the script does have a lot of exposition that occurs in order to make sense of the film’s plot. The script does manage to showcase a lot of the other characters such as Thor’s mother Frigga (Rene Russo) who is an important link to Thor’s relationship with Loki.

There’s also some comical moments that occur that includes Jane’s mentor Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) going crazy as he’s still recovering from the events that occurred in The Avengers prompting Jane’s intern Darcy (Kat Dennings) and Darcy’s intern Ian (Jonathan Howard) to get Selvig who makes a discovery about the Convergence. It would lead to some very intense moments that mixes action and humor where there’s a showdown between Thor and Malekith in London that also involves the Dark Elves and portals. Notably as it’s Thor trying to do whatever he can to just save the world and realizes the kind of attributes that he needs to succeed his father as King of Asgard.

Alan Taylor’s direction is definitely sprawling in terms of the set pieces that is created as it is a film that is big but also some intimate moments. Notably as Taylor makes sure that many of the visual effects and large set pieces don’t overwhelm the story. Even as Taylor does create some intimate moments that takes place in London where Jane tries to deal with her feelings for Thor as well as the scientific discovery that she and Darcy make that would lead to Jane being teleported into another world that has her discovering the Aether. The scenes in London are very simple with Taylor going for something straightforward but also add some comedy into the mix.

The scenes set in the Dark Elves’ planet as well as other places outside of Asgard is shot in Iceland where it has this very desolate world that is a total representation that Malekith wants. Especially that is sharp contrast to the more sprawling and regal world that is Asgard that Thor wants to protect as he isn’t just concerned for its people that he cares for but also everything his father and grandfather had fought for. Even as he has to get Loki to help him in the hopes as Thor can re-forge the bond that he had with the man whom he had called brother. Most notably as it leads to this massive climax where Taylor knows how to mix humor and action into the mix. Overall, Taylor creates a very extravagant yet exciting film about a hero taking more risks in what to do to save the world.

Cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography from the straightforward look for the scenes in London to some of the more eerie lighting schemes for the scenes set at the Dark Elves‘ old home planet. Editors Dan Lebental and Wyatt Smith do terrific work with the editing by using some fast, rhythmic cuts for some of the film‘s action and humor while slowing down for the dramatic moments. Production designer Charles Wood, with supervising art director Ray Chan and set decorators Gueni Lindal Benediktsson and John Bush, does fantastic work with the set pieces from the look of Asgard as well as the design of the Dark Elves ship that would bring terror to Earth and Asgard.

Costume designer Wendy Partridge does amazing work with a lot of the costumes for the scenes set in Asgard as it has this mixture of old medieval look that Thor and his people wear. Makeup designer Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou does brilliant work with some of the makeup including the look of Malekith. Visual effects supervisor Mark Breakspear does nice work with the visual effects for some of scenes set in space as well as some of the exteriors of Asgard. Sound designer Will Files and Shannon Mills do superb work with the sound to create some unique sound effects as well as play into some of the chaos that goes in the fight scenes. The film’s music by Brian Tyler is wonderful for its orchestral bombast to play into some of the film’s action and suspense as well in some of the more somber pieces for the dramatic moments.

The casting by Sarah Finn does marvelous work with the casting as it includes some notable small roles from Tony Curran in a prologue scene as Odin’s father Bor, Alice Krige as an Asgardian physician, Chris O’Dowd as a man Jane meets early in the film for a lunch date, Jonathan Howard as Darcy’s intern Ian, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Malekith’s lieutenant Algrim who causes havoc in Asgard. The casting also features some pretty funny cameos such as Stan Lee as a mental ward patient and Chris Evans as Loki pretending to be Captain America. As the members of the Warrior Three, Ray Winstone, Tadanobu Asano, and Zachary Levi are all terrific in their respective roles as Volstagg, Hogun, and Fandral with Winstone and Levi providing some humor. Jaimie Alexander is wonderful as Thor’s friend Sif who aids Thor while dealing with the presence of Jane Foster as she also has feelings for Thor.

Rene Russo is fantastic as Frigga as Thor’s mother who ensures that Loki stays alive following his actions in The Avengers as she becomes a key crucial point in the film for Thor and Loki as she also proves to be a total badass. Stellan Skarsgard is excellent as Dr. Erik Selvig who is still trying to deal with the post-traumatic stress of the events in The Avengers where he makes a big discovery while doing some funny things that involve him not wearing pants. Kat Dennings is hilarious as Jane’s intern Darcy as she not only has some of the film’s funny one-liners but also does things to help ensure that Thor’s plan to stop Malekith would work in some funny results. Idris Elba is incredible as Heimdall as the watcher of the Nine Realms who realizes the magnitude of the situation as he helps Thor out in defeating the Dark Elves. Christopher Eccleston is amazing as Malekith as this very dark individual who seeks revenge for what happened to him and his people as he does whatever it takes to take Thor down.

Anthony Hopkins is great as Odin where he’s still a bit of a cantankerous old man but also tones it down a bit as he still struggles to balance his role as king and father while aware of what Thor is trying to do. Tom Hiddleston is awesome as Loki as Thor’s adopted brother as a man who is slimy but fun as he helps Thor out in dealing with Malekith as well as trying to find something that he can gain. Natalie Portman is superb as Jane Foster as she does more than in the previous film as young woman who makes a chilling discovery while trying to deal with all of the chaos as well as finding ways to help save the world. Finally, there’s Chris Hemsworth in a remarkable performance as Thor as Hemsworth brings some humor to the role that is quite low-key but also a humility as a man who still questions his worth to become a king as it helps make Thor more engaging proving that Hemsworth is right for the part.

Thor: The Dark World is an excellent film from Alan Taylor that features brilliant performances from Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, and Tom Hiddleston. The film isn’t just a much looser and more entertaining film than its predecessor but allows the audience to be engaged by its protagonist as well as find ways that makes him relatable. In the end, Thor: The Dark World is a extraordinarily broad yet stellar film from Alan Taylor.

Marvel Phase One Films: Iron Man - The Incredible Hulk - Iron Man 2 - Thor - Captain America: The First Avenger - The Avengers

Marvel Phase Two Films: Iron Man 3 - Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Guardians of the Galaxy - The Avengers: Age of Ultron - Ant-Man

Marvel Phase Three Films: Captain America: Civil War - Doctor Strange - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - (Spider-Man: Homecoming) - (Thor: Ragnarok) - (The Avengers: Infinity War Pt. 1) - (The Avenger: Infinity War Pt. 2)


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