Friday, November 8, 2013

New Thor Alert

Welcome to the world of Asgard, where everyone’s got 99 problems. Thor is busy drowning his post-breakup blues (he left Natalie Portman behind on Earth) by saving the people of the Nine Realms from evil pillaging, Loki is a prisoner but still sneering about something, and father/king Odin (played by Anthony Hopkins) is throwing royal hissy fits every twenty minutes. Something’s gotta give, and it does – millennia after first threatening to do so.In Thor 2 (which is the eighth installation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe), the dark elves of Svartalfheim were the original evil beings who were vanquished by Thor’s granddad. They possessed the ultimate evil, the aether (pronounced eether), a dark red cloud of smoke (it doesn’t look any more threatening than it sounds). Thor’s granddad, in his infinite wisdom, doesn’t even bother trying to destroy this ultimate evil smoke, and instead decides to bury it, because as we all know, when dark evil things are buried, no one ever finds them. Flash forward to present time: enter Natalie Portman. Portman plays a skittish scientist who is on the verge of discovering the celestial event of ‘The Convergence’, when the Nine Realms all line up, and time, gravity and space and all that important stuff goes out of wack. Portman, accompanied by her intern (Kat Dennings) and her intern’s intern enters an old house in London looking for proof of this phenomenon. But before she knows what’s happening, Portman is sucked into a portal and her blood stream is infected with the aether. Guess ‘burying stuff’ isn’t the security measure everyone seems to think it is. And now, Malekith, the leader of the dark elves of Svartalfheim, is awake after his prolonged hibernation and looking for his aether. Enter Thor to smash his hammer, save his woman and defeat the cloud of smoke. Played by Chris Hemsworth, Thor is a strapping young man with a gravelly voice, stringy blonde hair, blue eyes and angst. About fifteen minutes into the movie, Thor is shirtless (as superheroes are wont to be from time to time) and I fleetingly understood why a friend had told me that ‘Thor 2 is the girl’s superhero movie’. Hemsworth is a good looking guy, and though I find the term ‘girl’s superhero movie’ slightly sexist, if there were to be a girl’s superhero movie, a shirtless Hemsworth would be in it. But the most interesting character, of course, remains Loki, who really deserves his own movie. Played by Tom Hiddleston, Loki is a wiry bundle of evil and angst. With his slicked-back hair and zingers (Loki has the only worthwhile one-liners in the movie), Loki is too much fun to keep locked away as a prisoner. Thor enlists him into helping defeat Malekith, and the brothers’ trust issues are on full display for the rest of the movie. Thor isn’t the best movie in the franchise, but it isn’t the worst either. It lacks the light touch of the first Iron Man, but Hemsworth, as the forthright manly man, has a good screen presence (even with his armour on) and has a fantastic voice. But Hiddleston’s Loki, all malevolence and sibling rivalry, is by far the brightest presence on the screen. The special effects in Thor 2 are like something The Hulk might dream up – smash, bang, crash, cars falling, hammers hammering – there is enough action to keep viewers’ mouths slightly open for an hour and 52 minutes. I personally loved how Thor’s hammer frantically finds its way back to him even if they’re in different realities. Another good hammer point/fish-out-of-water joke: Thor enters a London flat and seeing a coat rack, hangs his hammer on a peg. Audiences might find themselves drifting off into the aether as well at times during some of the battle scenes (I spent ten minutes debating cheese versus regular popcorn during a key sequence), but it’s an enjoyable watch all the same – just the sight of a 62-year-old Stellan Skarsgård running naked around Stonehenge as a deranged scientist is worth the ticket price.


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