Review Roundup - Gods & monsters

THOR: THE DARK WORLD (2013) 

Apparently giving up on the far better numbered sequel system from the Iron Man series, Marvel returns with what should have been an easy job - to fix up the loose ends left between Thor and The Avengers (I don't think anyone will ever call it Avengers Assemble) and provide some light-hearted and action packed adventure moments. From the outset something never feels quite right here though, as if it's cheaper in spite the increased budget. Perhaps it's the loss of Kenneth Branagh on directorial duties, perhaps it's the new writers; in any case they never capitalise on the interesting plot developments that were available or put together a story that makes sense.

 Opening credits - Thor gives the two symbol as the camera zooms in and Ride The Lightning plays

On that subject; the plot is a nonsense mix of fantasy clichés and space opera "stopping the universe being destroyed" material that really hasn't had enough thought put into it. It's simply there to serve the purpose of getting all those threads back on track - Loki returns and does his thing, Natalie Portman comes back for some more unconvincing romance, and the other characters from the first Thor movie make an appearance whether it's welcome or not. 

I would have preferred a smaller scale character based story considering what they had going, but I guess they have to up the ante each time with these, even if it means more wackiness - the simpler fish out of water comic relief is replaced by things like Stellan Skarsgard becoming a ker-azy professor (for some reason) and they give Kat Dennings more to do (for some reason). Its strange because the ideas were all set up ready to go - yet the subplot with Lady Sif and Jane clashing libidos is barely touched on and Loki doesn't actually have that much screen time considering the sibling rivalry being an integral part of the film series so far - here it gets the least use. Even Anthony Hopkins seems wasted, and just seems angry and loud whether the events of the film require it or not. To be fair, there are a few decent dramatic scenes but it's not enough to carry things. As for the villains this time around - all visual makeup and zero personality.

As a comic spectacle, it has it's moments but the action set pieces aren't that memorable. There are a couple of space ship based battles, and while it's pretty well done and Asgard seems more detailed than before there isn't anything that interesting. A showdown involving travel through portals as the fight ensues is fun but never feels as epic as the premise could have been, and it's wrapped up in an all too convenient way that never really explains what the big bad was actually planning to do besides squashing the whole galaxy just to be a jerk. It rushes to a sequel baiting finish, here's hoping next time they write a coherent story and give it more personality next time.

2/5

BONUS REVIEW

ONLY GOD FORGIVES (2013)



Part dream sequence, part revenge drama, and part Tumblr gif set; the follow up to Drive presents some interesting ideas but it's a bit too cryptic and drawn out for it's own good. It gets points for the aesthetics and music, and the mother character who drops in to be weird and vulgar every so often (from what feels like a different movie) but I could have used more direct story telling. Maybe the complexities are best examined on subsequent viewings but I can't be certain when they use hints of Asian culture and Oedipus which are too vague to be satisfying.

2/5