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 (sorry guys nobody is ever calling it Avengers Assemble) and provide some light-hearted, action packed adventure story moments. But instead this feels like something is missing. It never feels quite right, 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. Whatever the reason they never capitalise on the interesting plot developments that were available in previous outings, and they fail put together a story that makes much sense at all.


The plot itself is a nonsense mix of fantasy clich├ęs 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, since there were sibling rivalry elements that were obvious. But I guess they have to up the ante each time with these, from the action to the wackiness. The fish out of water comedy is replaced by things like Stellan Skarsgard becoming a ker-azy professor (for some reason) and Kat Dennings having a comedy intern subplot (for some reason).

Its strange because the strongest ideas were all set up ready to go. Yet somehow the romantic rivalry subplot with Asgardian warrior Lady Sif and Earthly astronomer Jane is missing entirely. Loki doesn't actually have that much screen time either which is pretty confounding. Even Anthony Hopkins seems wasted - he just seems angry and loud all the time whether the events of the film demand it or not. To be fair there are a few decent dramatic scenes but it's never enough to carry the movie. As for the villains this time around they make no impact, it's all visuals and makeup with zero personality.

In terms of action spectacle, it has it's moments but the set pieces aren't really that memorable. There are a couple of space ship battles and a few hand to hand fights, and while it's pretty well done there isn't anything that interesting. Asgard itself is more detailed this time around but they never explore it properly. A showdown involving travel through portals as the fight ensues is fun but never feels as epic as the premise could have been. It's wrapped up in an all too convenient manner that never really explains what the big bad was actually trying to do... besides squashing the whole galaxy just to be a jerk. It all rushes along to a sequel baiting finish, which is never a good sign. Let's hope they just 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, part Tumblr gif set; the follow up to Drive presents some interesting ideas but it's all a bit too cryptic and drawn out for its own good. It gets a few points here and there purely for the aesthetics and music, but that's to be expected. The mother character who drops in to be weird and vulgar every so often is a big highlight, but she feels like something from different movie altogether. I could have used more direct story telling and less symbolic gesturing. Maybe the complexities of the subtext are best examined on subsequent viewings, but I can't be certain. The use hints of Asian culture and Oedipus being used are just too vague to be satisfying.

2/5