And so we complete my top 5 favourite MCU movies.
The change in tone from the earlier Thor films can be summed up in one moment: the use of Led Zeppelin for the opening fight.
I love this film a lot. Objectively, there’s an argument that it shouldn’t work: that there are two quite different narratives – the one on Sakaar, and the one involving Hela – and putting them together is pretty weird. But it totally works: partly because of flashing between the two of them, and partly because Thor himself is always fixated on getting out of Sakaar, so the viewer never loses sight of the big picture.
Hemsworth and Hiddleston are, again, excellent in this film. Thor is definitely more relaxed and more enjoyable to watch than in previous iterations. And Loki is still wavering between heroic and villainous and I love how he walks that line. The interactions between the brothers are the most honest, and most heartfelt, of any of the films, for my money; also the ‘get help’ discussion is hilarious.
I’ll be honest, though: I’m mostly here for the secondary characters in this film.
Is Hela a secondary character? I guess so, but hands up who would watch a whole film about her? That’s not even a question for me. I think Blanchett is brilliant, and I love everything about her attitude and her snark and her arrogance. Also the costuming, which is outrageous and awesome. Speaking of, Valkyrie is also outrageous and awesome in attitude and snark: her interactions with Topaz (whom I also love), and with Hulk; pretty much everything about her attitude towards Thor (his comment about her drinking too much, and her withering ‘I’m not going to stop drinking‘: perfection): MORE VALKYRIE PLEASE. I understand she is in the next Thor film, so that makes me happy.
And then there’s the fellas. Jeff Goldblum is, of course, an everything. … There’s nothing else I can say about him. Karl Urban is fantastic as Skurge, a character who goes from naming his guns Des and Troy to sacrificing his life to save his people. Korg makes me happy every moment he’s on screen (I tried to start a revolution, but I didn’t print enough pamphlets…). And then there’s that little play-within-a-play, and it tells you something about the MCU that they got Matt Damon and Sam Neill (who really is perfect as the Anthony Hopkins stand-in!), and of course Liam Hemsworth, to do those tiny parts. The Hulk is pretty good, too.
So yeh. This film. I love the cinematography, I love the colour, I love the soundtrack.
Any movie that requires such an extensive prologue to set up the premise of the film is… already heading into dubious territory. It’s barely even framed as “dad telling a story” which would have been better – the first one has Thor and Loki as kids, so why couldn’t this have been a bedtime story for them growing up? This would also have given a little more context to Odin and/or Frigga as parents, which would have been good, too.
Slapping is never ok. Ever. Not even if it’s a wee lady slapping a large gentleman. It’s not funny and it’s not ok.
Darcy, though, does continue to be both funny and ok. Happily, we also get more Rene Russo as Frigga in this one than the first, and she was great! with a sword and all! Christopher Eccleston, however, was utterly wasted. It could have been anyone in that makeup and with the dialogue. What an utterly lacklustre villain.
And speaking of lacklustre: Natalie Portman was fine, but Jane was… well, basically a sexy lampshade. For a film that purports to revolve around her, she has essentially no agency; she is an object, not a subject. The ether infects her; Thor takes her to Asgard; Odin dismisses her; Frigga protects, Sif steals, and Thor and Loki con Malekith into taking it out of her. What does she do? Um… freak out at a lunch date… actually she does do some Science Stuff at the end. But not much else. Which is disappointing.
As with the first Thor, I was interested to see how much more of a fantasy this feels, rather than SF which the other films do. Basically it’s a portal fantasy, with the Bifrost – and then Consequences of the Amazing Convergence – as the portals. For all it’s designed on a more epic scale, the narrative itself somehow… doesn’t feel it. I think I just don’t care that much about the nine worlds, because although we are introduced to them in the film, I have no emotional connection. I barely care about Asgard.
Two final things that are good about this film: it begins a commentary on genocide that is continued in the third Thor, and I had forgotten it was already here. Honestly, you could blink and miss it… but it is there. And certainly Odin isn’t a great and magnanimous ruler, here, which I think the first one tried to convince viewers of.
And then there’s Selvig. Whose running around in the nudes is played for laughs, basically, right up until he points out that he had a god in his head, and maybe it’s not so unreasonable that he’s having trouble adjusting to ordinary society.
And so, in six movies (chronologically), we get three of my top 5 MCU films. Not a bad hit rate.
Ah, this film. There is definitely a level of nostalgia… which is stupid because 8 years is not enough for nostalgia – you would think – but maybe because, despite all the bad things the team deals with, this feels like such an upbeat film overall? with the snappy dialogue especially. And things just get so gloomy and sad for all of them, later on. Yes, of course Coulson’s death is hard; but I also know that Tahiti is a magical place… and it’s about the whole vibe of the film. It’s such a joy to see this core of the team all together, even knowing where it’s all heading. To see them butting heads (literally and figuratively), but also figuring out how to work together. To see aspects that will be picked up throughout the franchise – Thor’s hammer/ Capt’s shield/ Tony’s power pack, for instance.
I have Issues with Joss Whedon these days, but it must be said that he knows how to write witty repartee. And I really like that aspect!
This is our intro proper to Hawkeye – and I both like him more, in this, than I did initially… and also got angry all over again at the way his turn to Ronin was treated – and our absolute first intro to Mark Ruffalo as Banner/Hulk. Apparently the Edward Norton Hulk should be considered canon? I just cannot. I watched Eric Bana’s turn as Bruce many years ago, and I thought he was good – Bana has a wonderful way of being both heroic and human (why yes, he is Hektor for me now and always, thanks for asking). Norton… just no. Does not work in my head at all. Cannot. Ruffalo, though: inspired. Gentle and science geek, and doesn’t look ridiculous as a green ragemonster.
One thing I really noticed is that this is beginning of Steve Rogers breaking. Yes, he ignored Tommy Lee Jones in the first film, that was knowing that he wouldn’t be putting anyone else in harm’s way, and it was for Bucky, which is always a driving factor. Here, though… he explicitly distrusts a commanding officer, and that distrust is proved appropriate, which is new. And ends up leading to a lot of later consequences. Poor Steve.
The other thing I noticed is just how ill Loki appears at the start of the film. He looks haggard – terrible bruising around his eyes – he looks so tired and worn. And much older. Which speaks to the presumably difficult months he’s had since letting himself fall off the Bifrost. And almost makes me feel sorry for him.
I love this film. It’s not perfect, but gosh it’s good.
This is one of the films that I wasn’t sure of, going back. It’s been a while since I saw it, and I just wondered…
Everything about this film is fine. Hemsworth is pretty good (although gosh a decade is a long time); Portman is great, actually; Hiddleston is fine. Idris Elba is always wonderful, as is Jamie Alexander. And Kat Dennings as Darcy and Stellan Skarsgaard can help me with my research any time. Also the criminally underused Rene Russo.
There’s just something about the film that feels … odd. Or off. Especially coming on the heels of Iron Man.
I think that, compared to those (internally) earlier movies, Thor – and Thor – feel… naive, somehow. Matched against the cynical, world-weary but still philanthropic Stark, Thor feels… young. Arrogant – or proud? – although at least theoretically committed to doing what’s right; and naive, even innocent. And still so much in his father’s shadow (which, actually, is very much a Tony thing too. OMG how much of the MCU is actually about fathers?? Wait, I don’t want to think about that too much or I might get really sad). The film itself is an example of how the MCU films are allowed to have their own aesthetic, matching the different aesthetics of the comics (I assume); and I think this more fantasy-oriented feel does feel jarring, coming after the very-high-tech, very modern, Iron Man – and even Captain Marvel.
The plot is nothing exceptional; it’s fine as an introduction to Thor and his world. I had forgotten what we learn about Loki and his relationship with Thor; it felt simultaneously like a lot and too little. The one thing I did notice and appreciate greatly is that right from the start, it’s unclear whether Loki is being devious for the sake of evil, or because it’s his nature to be a trickster. Does he know that he’s revving Thor up about their father, and is he doing it for nefarious purposes, or… not? There’s so much about Loki that is vital to however many films, and I think some aspects of him remain unknowable. At the same time: it is clear he loved Odin and Frigga, and that his world being shown to be a lie is the catalyst for most of his later actions.
SPOILERS, right? You’ve been warned.
So. Thor’s second solo(ish) outing. I think it’s got a slightly better plot than the first. It’s still a crazy romp (see here for The Mary Sue’s review that suggests it’s not as crazy as it could/should be – too caught up with realism for a story that is hello, based on Norse mythology – which I agree with). There’s going to be a conjunction of the nine worlds (which makes me think that Lara Croft should be finding something awesome, amiright?), and this is causing all sorts of gravitational ructions between the worlds… and the Dark Elves are waking up, having been totes smashed by Odin’s dad a while back, and they want reveeeeeeenge. Also the Aether, a magic substance that will help them bring about everlasting darkness (which raises all SORTS of questions about why they have eyes, etc, but this movie is not the place for a discussion of evolutionary biology (insert joke about Chris Hemsworth’s abs here)). Things go wrong for everyone, surprise! There are battles, there is science, there are monsters, and there is kissing.
Things I liked:
Sif is awesome.
Jane was science-y! (And thanks to a science discussion early on with Darcy, the movie passes the Bechdel test.)
Friga was brilliant. With a sword. Also the tricksiness.
The relationship between Thor and Loki. Prickly but sad, angry but wanting-to-be-hopeful… more nuanced than I was expecting, to be honest. Not knocking Hemsworth but I think a lot of that was down to Hiddleston, because as the wrong-doer he had a harder job making Loki both unrepentant and dismayed at the outcome of his actions. That moment when you realise that everything you’re seeing in Loki’s cell is a trick? – sheer brilliance.
The end! (of the movie itself that is, not the stingers). I was pretty sure I knew what was going down, but it was nice to see it actually happen.
Things I was sad about:
There is not enough Sif.
GREENWICH. You cannot be serious about using Greenwich as as the locus of the nine worlds’ conjunctions. And you really cannot be serious about drawing lines that converge there that start at Stonehenge, Snowdon and… other unnamed places because if you named them it’d be even more obvious how STUPID this is…. And in conjunction with this, you really, really cannot be serious about the ancients having left messages for us from “last time”: the Egyptians, the Chinese, the Mayans… the MAYANS? The Mayans were not building monumental structures at the same time as the Egyptians and the Chinese! I… I have no words. Look, even Skarsgard is dubious about his own words!
Darcy and the intern getting it on. Yes I was expecting it, but still.
I liked it. I love superhero movies (except for Spiderman. It just hasn’t worked for me). So… there are explosions and fight scenes and some delightful snark. And Loki. It’s exactly what I expected.