Film Review: THOR: THE DARK WORLD: Rules of a Marvel superhero movie

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I’m starting to get a little jaded about these Marvel superhero movies. They are following something akin to a formula. Their defining characteristics are evident in the latest release, THOR: THE DARK WORLD.

  1. There’s always a power source which, in the wrong hands ... well, you know the rest. Instead of a Tesseract, there is a new and fearsome thingummy beginning with the letters ‘Ae’ to make it sound ancient – instead of ‘aiee’, the sound I make before exclaiming ‘oh no, not again.’
  2. The plot involves said power source falling into the wrong hands. Well, you wouldn’t have much dramatic tension if it didn’t. Having been uncovered by and then buried within Jane (Natalie Portman, in her first film since giving birth and her first proper film since winning a Best Actress Oscar), it is then taken by snarling beaked-nose nasty, Malekith (Christopher Eccleston).
  3. There should never be a villain called Keith – why, because it sounds silly! You stick ‘male’ in front of his name to indicate bad and then think ‘oh no, we’ve called our über-nasty ‘bad Keith’, that’s worse than BAD GRANDPA.’ The way round it is you deliberately mispronounce his name and call him Malachy. Thank Odin for dubbing theatres.
  4. Never let the villain speak in his natural voice. The more odious the villain, the more he sounds as if his voice has been put through a digital distorter. I mean, if he had such power, he would not be worried about the police recognising his voice when he ordered a pizza. (‘Quick lads, it’s Bad Keith.’) A booming voice is supposed to represent the depths of depravity which is why I can’t take the idea of James Corden as tenor Paul Potts in ONE CHANCE seriously.
  5. The power source is never as devastating when it gets into the wrong hands. I mean, there are instructions but they’re hundreds of millennia old. When in doubt, I would just ‘press A’ – works on the DS Lite.
  6. The hero is torn between two worlds, a world where he can be king and one where he can chuck a big hammer about. Funny how he never says to the villain: ‘Stop - Norse God!’ I think villains should receive a warning before Thor swings that thing. Also, what about his insurance premium? Surely, he should need a licence to throw his hammer and insurance against accident damage of cars, buildings and the London Borough of Greenwich.
  7. There are always at least two dimensions. Here, stuff disappears in one place and ends up somewhere else (like plots from one Marvel movie end up in another). Sometimes it comes back, like a multi-dimensional returns policy. If it ends up on another plane for thirty days or more, that’s it, you’re stuffed.
  8. There is always an actor on the verge of retirement who can quite let go. Here, it is Sir Anthony Hopkins, sporting eye patch and fluffy white beard as Odin. He just wants to take a back seat and not have to worry about the Nine Realms, but he has one bad son, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and one who just wants the warm appraisal of an adoring female. I am waiting for ODIN’S APPRENTICE where the King of the Gods selects twelve would-be Demi-Gods and sends them off to sell tat in Borough Market – ‘you’re not smelling what you’re selling.’ Failure sends them to the Twelve Rings of Purgatory in the spin-off: ODIN’S APPRENTICE – YOU’RE FRIED.
  9. There is always a goofy scientist. Here, Stellan Skarsgård runs around Stonehenge naked and later gives scientific exposition without wearing any trousers (‘it helps me think’).  We have the two über-nerds in the TV series, AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D., if anyone is logging this.
  10. There is always a goofy assistant, here played by Kat Dennings. Here, her character kisses a Brit. That’s easy. On New Year’s Eve, go to the north bank of the Thames before the fireworks – Londoners have been weaned off Trafalgar Square – after ‘lest auld acquaintance be forgot’ (yes, of course they would be if they don’t have a wrist band) there is jovial snogging. Don’t bring gum.
  11. There is a nod to other films in the franchise; here a certain shield-toting star spangled hero makes a sort of cameo, uncredited.
  12. Have at least three endings. The first suggests a sequel – someone you think is dead actually isn’t (like, I didn’t see that coming – again). The second hints at another power source, no, wait, it’s that Tesseract again. Whenever it is put in safe keeping given to an actor who looks suspiciously like Benicio del Toro, you know it isn’t really. The third is always goofy, this time involving kissing and a wee beasty, because there are always fans who blog ‘what about...’
  13. Give someone from Judd Apatow films a really naff role. I mean, come on, what is [bleep] doing in the movie? The poor guy, he is supposed to be dating Jane at taking her for a nice meal in the OXO Tower – other tourist landmarks are available - but you know he has no chance. (The sequel to the Paul Potts’ movie.)
  14. Trash a metropolitan area, or at least the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. I can report that it is perfectly fine, as the UK distributor used it as a drinks venue prior to a special Fans Screening.
  15. The hero is always in danger of losing the woman he loves – he doesn’t have either keys or a mobile phone. There is central locking on his hammer, though, evidenced in the first movie.
  16. Use a really bland, faux heroic score by Brian Tyler, one refrain repeated over and over again, so it sticks in your head, making you scream, ‘aiee!’ (See 1.)
  17. If a character is evil in one film, he is on the side of good in the sequel. This isn’t restricted to Marvel movies – the mould was set by the TERMINATOR flicks. Can Thor really trust Loki? Well, that ramps up the tension a tad.
  18. Idris Elba is still seriously in need of a costume change. I mean, his character is no longer protecting Asgard from the Frost Giants but he still wears the big horned helmet. With a reduction of duties, could not he ask for something less God-fearing. I keep waiting for him to use it as a slingshot, or to catch fish. (‘The multi-use Norse Warrior helmet only $59.99 from Walmart. Not subject to the Arms Trade Treaty.’)
  19. Sexual tension is a big absence. You don’t see two people looking hot smouldering at each other; after all, the film is released by Disney. They are more likely to resemble a plush toy - sorry, Sir Anthony.
  20. There is a completely irrelevant caption: ‘Thor will return.’ Of course - he’s in AVENGERS 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO, or the one with Ultron in the title. Chris Hemsworth is fortunately carving a separate career in RUSH, the forthcoming CYBER and not being mistaken for his brother Liam.
  21. Did I mention one major character has to die – oops!

Reviewed at Greenwich Picturehouse, Fans Screening, Sunday 27 October 01:00 hrs (in the morning); how do you expect me to stay awake without coffee?

About the author


Independent film critic who just wants to witter on about movies every so often. Very old (by Hollywood standards).

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