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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Nov 15, 2013

Thor: The Dark World Movie Review

THOR was first introduced in a solo movie in 2011. In 2012, he appeared with the other superheroes in “The Avengers”. Now, he goes solo in his own sequel, which starts with a prologue setting up the back story of a new villain, dark elf Malekith (Brit actor Christopher Eccleston who’s unrecognizable), and the evil powerful energy force called the Aether (looks more like liquid rugby).

Thor (Aussie actor Chris Hemsworth) is then shown as he helps out in a battle to keep peace in the Nine Realms. He continues to yearn for his mortal inamorata, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), so he requests loyal Asgard gatekeeper Heimdal (Idris Elba) to keep on looking after her. And it’s to Portman’s credit that she doesn’t come out totally ridiculous in a blind date scene where she is required to repeat the words “sea bass” about a dozen times.

While investigating a strange phenomenon in London with her sidekick Darcy (Kat Dennings) and her intern Ian (Jonathan Howard) who provide comic relief , Jane becomes the new vessel possessed by the revived Aether. So Thor has to come to her rescue and the first thing she does when she sees him after a two-year absence is to slap him twice. He then takes her to Asgard and she meets his mom Frigga (Renee Russo) and dad Odin (Anthony Hopkins) who quickly detects that he Aether is inhabiting her.

Malekith is also resurrected and aims to bring the entire universe into a new era of darkness during the alignment or convergence of the Nine Realms, with the help of Jane and the Aether inside of her. To fight them, Thor seeks the help of his duplicitous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who he bails out from his prison. Together, they confront Malekith who has kidnapped Jane. Will it be difficult to guess who wins?

The success of “Thor” as a movie hangs on the actor who plays the title role. Marvel got it right when they cast Hemsworth. With the wrong actor, Thor the god of thunder could have been an utterly preposterous comic book superhero with that oversized hammer. But Hemsworth some succeeds to make it work, bringing the right mixture of charm, power and fun to the role. As the Nordid god with rippling muscles, he conducts himself with amazing ease even when he is compelled to rebel against his dad Odin to be able to save Asgard.

In all fairness to Hiddleston, he is also perfectly cast as the scene-stealing Loki. The British actor is sidelined in the movie’s first half while imprisoned in his high tech jail, but when Thor gets him out, the movie becomes “The Thor and Loki Show”. They are fun to watch while bickering with each other, and with the zanily demented Loki even transforming to another superhero from “The Avengers” who appears in a cameo (we won’t say who.) Loki here is somewhat like Magneto in “X Men”. He’s a villain who’s at odds with Prof. Charles Xavier, but there’s a lot of potential in his ambiguity and inner conflicts.

The real villain here is Malekith, portrayed along with the dark elves as some kind of Al Qaeda terrorists who are so committed to their cause they’re ready to die for it in mass suicide bombings. The finale showing the climactic one-on-one showdown between Thor and Malekith takes them all over London as they smash buildings, but it’s more inventively executed than the similar encounter between Superman and Gen. Zod in “Man of Steel” that bored us after a while.

The first “Thor” was directed by Brit actor Kenneth Brannagh who made it more of a cheesy comedy with Thor as a fish out of water. The sequel is now helmed by Alan Taylor, best known for his work in the “Game of Thrones” series, and he gives his Dark World a visually and thematically different treatment on a much bigger scale than the first one. Our problem is that the elves here speak their own made up language (shown with English subtitles) just like characters in “Lord of the Rings”, “The Hobbit” and other flicks with entities from the netherworld. They’ve become almost interchangeable. But don’t leave the theatre right away after the movie ends because there are additional scenes to be seen during the title credits, a sure indication that there will be a “Thor, Part 3”.