Thor and his Dark World… A Renfield Review

tumblr_msw3ilELAW1shbp5ko1_500On Tuesday Spawn and I ventured out into the cold darkness of winter, quite appropriately as it happens, to see Thor 2. Now I kinda loathed Thor mark 1. Aside from the infrequent exposure of la Hemsworth’s outrageous bodily fortune I found it thin on the ground. Narrow. Despite the magnificence of Asgard, the delightful gloomy cold of Jotunheim and, of course, la Hiddles unparalleled brilliance as Thor’s snotty half-brother, the part frost giant, possible god of mischief Loki, Thor 1 fundamentally failed to grasp my attention. It bored me. I laughed once, at the cup smashing moment, and the rest of the time I spent squinting at the screen, wondering why on earth it was Brannagh was expecting me to invest in. His attempt at a sweeping epic? Odin’s beard? Gold bullion?

I suspect half the problem for me was the eventual reduction of action to the one tiny town in the middle of apparently nowhere with that ridunkulous fight between Thor and the Loki Massive robot suit thing. The other half of my problem, in its entirety, was the focus on whiny, arrogant, snot-nosed little Thor basically doing a Frank Spencer-esque stumble through a modern world he’s clearly ill-equipped to handle without his massive…hammer. Talk about throwing things out of the cot. To be honest I sort of wanted Odin to do something more imaginative with the hammer, something that might involve extensive gastrointestinal surgery to undo. Hmmm, yes, I did not gel with that first outing, although there were characters and moments I enjoyed.

But this ain’t a review of numero uno, nope…I’m here to talk about numero deux. So I best stop wittering on and get to it.

As you can imagine, after my disappointment with numero uno, I was expecting very little of numero deux. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised, nay delighted, to find it abounding in epic scale, outrageous humour, pulse-thumpin’ action and awesome flights of imagination. It succeeded in pretty much every area I felt the first movie failed in…which is good (sidles back into outhouse). Yeah, it was a bit ace OK. *fangurl face* And Loki’s hair was special. I wanted it to have its own credit. Much like Odin’s beard should. Honestly, they have to let me down somewhere. WHY, film makers, WHY?

*cough*

*serious face*

Can I just say that I’m not really one for dark elves? No. Not for elves of any kind really these days. Nope. Got bored of them in my late teens and I haven’t really ever re-discovered a liking for them. Not even with the LOTR and Hobbit movies. I’m sorry I’m not sorry. However, having said all that, I really loved the villains of the film. Malekith was a marvellous mixture of cold hatred and melodrama. He bubbled over at a pretty constant seethe of grandiose, superior scorn and bile. Loved it. You could almost see him swishing his cloak around in a devilish fashion, and sneaking out stage left, twiddling his moustaches with evil glee as he plotted against our heros and their worlds. He did right what la Hiddles did right in numero uno (and deux as it happens), recognising that need for a larger-than-life presence from the antagonist with such sweeping, epic surrounds to plot and scheme within (and I speak here when referring to la Hiddles in numero uno not of the tiny town where all the *action* finally went down, but of Asgard and Jotunheim).

There was, too, a great deal of ambiguity in numero deux, which I won’t go into as I’d have to reveal fairly massive spoilers. Suffice it to say I really dug the way Loki was dealt with this time, but it’s kind of unsurprising. This movie sort of had to turn out all twisty-turny and unexpected with a team of writers including those involved in Captain America, which was actually a terrific movie, and experience in writing for Marvel’s varied cast of characters, and with Alan Taylor at the helm. Alan’s work on, amongst other things, The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, Mad Men and Homicide: Life on the streets will have given him a baptism by fire into directing fierce, gritty, witty and weighty stories, and he gave this one his all, forging for us a spectacle of great evil and even greater heroics.

I’ve always felt that Thor required something meatier than the first movie’s story, although (full disclosure) I do not read comics and only had ideas about what I wanted for him through knowledge of various stories from the mythology. I’m glad to say that all that vain hope crushed in the first movie was more than rewarded in the second. It thrilled, delighted and absorbed on every level, and both myself and the Spawn were one hundred percent invested in the characters and their plight.

I even found a small amount of fondness for Jane Foster, who I could not really see the point of in the first movie. Failed the Bechdel a bit that did, even though she was supposed to be some brilliant scientist blah blah blah, she ended up as Thor’s helpless bit of totty. Who then got abandoned. Typical really. In the second movie, she’s still sort of pathetic on the whole, always needing protection, but there is a good reason and she displays some pretty awesome moments of agency, one of which rather impresses Loki. One of my favourite characters was a favourite from numero uno and The Avengers, Dr Erik Selvig, who really is the humour at the heart of the movie. Stellan Skarsgård’s developed this character superbly over the course of these three movies, he’s quite mad but in his madness there is an infallible logic, a purpose. One of my favourite moments in numero deux involves his reaction to a murmuration of sparrows. Genius.

As with every other Marvel movie out there, so it is with numero deux  re easter egg-age. Deux has both a mid-end-credit easter egg and an end credit easter egg. The first gives a hint as to what might be going on in Guardians of the Galaxy (and has Benicio Del Toro *squee* – it’s a bit pointless and out of synch with the rest of the movie style-wise but I liked that we got a glimpse into this other universe waiting to be unleashed upon us), and the second is a tiny window on the events to come in Thor 3, which I can now say I’m very much looking forward to.

Renfield awards Thor: The Dark World five out of five flies. *crunch crunch nomz*

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