By now the Marvel formula is clear— a little smash and dash, a little romance, a little pathos, a little humor (actually this one has got more than a little), a cameo appearance of Stan Lee himself (this time as an inmate in Bedlam, the insane asylum in London), and of course a trailer after the first credits giving a preview of the next installment of the now burgeoning Marvel film series.
Of course there is something different about the Thor stories from other Marvel tales in that they are based on long existing mythology about Odin All-Father (the Zeus of the Norse world), his sons Loki and Thor, and so on. These stories quite naturally bear some resemblance to some of the elements of the Lord of the Rings stories for a very good reason—- Tolkien and Lewis were both deeply influenced by Norse mythology in their story-telling, Tolkien in fact far more that Lewis. And trust me, Norse mythology is stark and dark…. but then what would you expect from stories cooked up in Norway and Sweden where, being so close to the North Pole, things are— wait for it, stark and dark…. and really cold. So if some of the worlds in Norse stories look rather like Norwegian landscapes and fiords during the winter, there is a good reason. I don’t know about you, but I don’t relish dying and going to live in Asgard in the other world….. not at least without a major winter coat and gloves and a toboggan and boots and chapstick… and soup… and lots of hot coffee….and ..and… you get the picture.
This installment in the Thor films is in various ways better than the last one, not least because of its humor. The first thirty minutes race through too much back story and context, but once it settles down, the story is enjoyable enough. There is this really bad dude name Malakith from the dark world, and there is this bad spirit stuff…. called ether, which can invade a person’s body like a communicable disease. Unfortunately it somehow gets trapped in Natalie Portman aka Jane the human sweetheart of Thor. Malakith wants it back, Thor wants it gone, and Loki wants out of jail. Thor actually frees Loki and enlists his aide to defeat Malakith…..which of course is like playing poker with the Devil.
Along the way we lose Rene Russo (playing Odin’s queen) and apparently Loki as well, which is too bad, because he is the sort of villain one love’s to hate, and is brilliantly played by Tom Hiddleston. By comparison Mr. Hemsworth (aka Thor) looks Marvelous…. but his acting is sort of stiff and bulging like his muscles. Nice ice blue Nordic eyes though… And there are brief zingers which keep things moving along like….
Sif: I’ve got this under control.
Thor: Is that why everything’s on fire?
As an afternoon’s diversion for about two hours the film is alright, though there is still too much crash and burn and slash and dash stuff with ridiculously large villains and the plot is still too convoluted and implausible (maybe the best line in the movie is Thor’s after he smashes the goliath-sized bad guy who looks like ‘The Thing’ into pebbles, and says “anyone else”?)
But I like the fact that the film doesn’t take itself too seriously, even can laugh at itself, and the audience laughs right along with it. In the end these films need to make a deal with M.C. Hammer….and use the ‘hammer time’ theme…. it would produce even more laughs.