That Marvel Comics was able to hijack a mythological figure so thoroughly for these so-called modern times is no small feat. Can any movie company come up with their own “Thor” ??? Why not? You can’t take over a character from centuries and centuries ago by eminent domain – see the 1872 photo below Thor’s Battle Against the Jötnar by Mårten Eskil Winge. That being said, Thor: the Dark Knight…the Dark World starts off in the hokiest of manners, as if pulled straight out of a dubbed-in 1957 Steve Reeves Hercules flick, perhaps Le fatiche di Ercole (The Labours of Hercules.) The first thought was “No! Don’t do this to Thor!” but after the hammer of the gods demolishes a stone creature, possibly a refugee from the film Galaxy Quest, things improve immensely.
Yes, we get to go through space a la Star Wars (and it is certainly no coincidence that Natalie Portman from Star Wars plays Jane Foster) and then we get to Asgard and if you want to know the plot go to the Wikipedia page on the film, the discussion here is about how director Alan Taylor fares picking up where his predecessor, previous Thor director Sir Kenneth Branagh (Frankenstein; Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit etc).
On a budget of 170m and hauling in 109 million already overseas, according to Boxofficemojo.com it is obvious the financial end of things is the least of its problems. The trouble that true fans of the original comic will find starts with not utilizing the “human host” – Dr. Donald Blake. This was one of the great aspects of the comic book, some doctor finds a wooden stick and it turns into a hammer while turning the human into the God of Thunder. See Wiki for more fun stuff on this.
The charm of the human dissolves as Thor hangs out with Jane and her colleagues. Me Tarzan, you Jane, put my hammer in the closet with my cape, thank you very much. How many times are audiences going to enjoy confusing plots made for hardcore fans (this writer certainly one of those) while the rest of the planet just might not grasp what the heck is going on? As the Avengers gravy train rolls on, Disney will just keep its accountants busy while even letting one of its own cartoon properties the aforementioned Hercules (Tate Donovan’s voice on the animated 1997 entry) go to Embassy/Film 44/MGM with the Rock as the Herc in 2014. Perhaps it is just as well. But if you look up Hercules old and new chances are you will see an advertisement for Thor 2013 on those sites.
Thor: The Dark World Official Trailer HD
With three different actors playing the Hulk it is up to Iron Man and Thor to bring a new consistency to these Avengers spin-offs. And there’s a bonus of two mini vignettes when the film ends. One immediately, another after the final credits. Very intriguing stuff, but no spoilers here. Anthony Hopkins as Odin is good, but he should have channeled and used more Hannibal Lecter in his performance. Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, is as malevolent as ever, and the Thor movie characters carve out their own niche, which is perhaps the toughest thing for fans of the Marvel hero to take. This is another instance where sticking to the original comic book and not straying – as Marvel’s (arguably) greatest characters – the Fantastic Four have suffered – is a no brainer. Still, the film is #1 around the globe, showing up in America a week after many countries have already ventured off to the impending collision —or convergence — of the nine realms!
The Dark Knight Rises to a big box office, so the Dark Elves here in the Dark World with keys vanishing along with a soda can a la Poltergeist make for some heady stuff. Rugged Chris Hemsworth, a fine actor, still comes off as a kind of stuffed shirt as the superhero. This is where Disney/Marvel and the director really needed to bring in Dr. Donald Blake. Hemsworth would make a superb Donald Blake, and the stretch, a Hollywood leap to the mythological character rather than the pure creation directly from Stan Lee’s Marvel Comics, might matter to the older fans. But we’re not the sole audience…indeed…we the Marvel faithful are now the expendables.
The Marvel Universe is on a roll. It’s an unstoppable train and any letters to the complaint department will be read with glee. As long as you are talking about the film, the actors, the characters, the plot, Disney is going to be happy. They have a rocket and they are going to ride it for all it is worth.
And, yes, at the end of the day, it is an enjoyable superhero flick, though not as memorable as The Dark Knight, for the filmmakers have yet to find a performance as compelling as Heath Ledger’s Joker. Another element Hollywood has to remind itself to put on a wish list to find for future extravaganzas. The Dark World is no Dark Knight, but it will still bring in the green.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.