Column by Ned Leebrick-Stryker
In the last decade, Hollywood has seen the rise of a genre whose success has no equal: the comic-book movie.
Each year, an abundance of high-budget, high-grossing action-fests are dropped into our silver screens, in the hopes that the consumer will be willing to fork over the $14.50 it costs to see his or her favorite character kick a little ass.
Fortunately, the audience has consistently gotten what it paid for, with each consecutive year having quality films that respect their audience and tell intriguing and thematic stories that elevate themselves past the expectations most hold about a move featuring a hero wearing tights.
Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” Trilogy or Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers” are commonly cited as films that, despite explosions, lasers and car chases, managed to mean something more. Then it became 2013.
The 2013 comic-book lineup, despite being bigger than ever, has been disappointing. “Iron Man 3,” “The Wolverine” and “Man of Steel” have divided fans and critics alike.
Now, it’s November, and although the summer movie season ended nearly three months ago, we have another attempt at giving us the comic book fix that we crave with “Thor: The Dark World.” Unfortunately, it continues the 2013 curse and delivers a convoluted tale that loses what worked from its predecessor and will ultimately leaves this year’s comic=book lineup with a sour taste in our mouths.
“Thor: The Dark World” sees the God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) return to his home world of Asgard with his brother, the mischievous Loki (Tom Hiddleston), after the events of “The Avengers.”
Loki is punished for nearly taking over the Earth and sentenced to prison for the rest of his life. That also means that Loki’s role in the movie is diminished, so Hiddleston’s delightfully devilish portrayal of the character is only seen in small doses. At the same time, back on our very own planet, Thor’s love interest, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) discovers an ancient artifact, which awakens Malekith the Accursed, an elf who’s hell-bent on, you guessed it, destroying the universe (Christopher Eccleston). Thor must now fight to protect everyone he loves and enlist in some unexpected help.
That was the summary in Layman’s terms. Unless you are a comic book fan, the movie will prove difficult to fully follow.
I doubt that the casual audience will understand what the Aether is, reasons for trans-dimensional portals in London or a scene post-credits so confusing, only the most diehard of the diehards will figure out.
The story is convoluted, jumbled, poorly paced and even boring. It’s even hard to call this escapism when you’re constantly asking yourself about character motivations and reasons for plot progression.
It also takes away what was so charming about the first Thor. Thor was a fish out of water on earth, and it was exciting and often funny to see him discover, for instance, coffee.
Thor’s character has grown, but as a result, his character has become less interesting.
What mildly redeems the movie are the performances. Hemsworth and Portman have great chemistry, delivering big laughs and sweet, quiet moments.
Eccleston’s Malakith is scary, with an effectively intimidating monotone voice that you’d expect from a super-villain. Hiddleston is the MVP, making use of his smaller role, and making you long for more.
He pulls off sly and cunning better than anyone else. It’s a treat to see him act. The visual effects were also stunning, the action scenes were creative, with a final fight too fun to spoil here, and it boasts one of the best cameos in any movie ever, period.
But performances can’t always carry a movie and although “Thor: The Dark World” had its moments, it was rushed and inconsistent and ends 2013’s disappointing comic-book movie short list on a less than positive note.
Leebrick-Stryker is a first-year broadcast major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org