Friday, November 8, 2013

Thor: The Dark World in Theaters Now

I got to see Thor: The Dark World last night on its release date. (Or should I say, the 8:00 pm showing which used to be the midnight showing the night before its release date? Hey, I'm not complaining about the time; I just think it's funny.)

My husband and I like to joke about the fact that we would never have guessed Thor to be interesting fodder for the movies. I mean, come on, he's a god with a sledgehammer. (And I'm aware that all the fans out there are saying, "Yeah, he's a god with a sledgehammer!") Well, I stand corrected. I loved the first Thor, and this second is an excellent follow-up, especially with the help of the tie-in movie The Avengers. Really, Dark World is our third time getting to watch these characters on the screen, and I'd be happy with more.

So, what is it about this world and these characters that brings us all back again and again? Is it the tightly written script (A lot happens in just under 2 hours!), the exquisite look of Asgard (with more detail even than the last movie), the high stakes (All the realms, including Earth, are in peril!), the unequal romance of a god to a mere mortal, the humor and quick wit of some of the dialog, the superb acting, or the mixed motivations of a villain we begrudgingly root for? All of these things impact us, I'm sure, but right now, I think the biggest factor is the last.

Tom Hiddleston's Loki is the perfect villain. In this movie, his scheming takes second place to a larger threat, but he's still there, lurking magnificently in the shadows. The thing about Loki: you just don't know who the real guy is. He's an illusionist. He's something of a victim, and we feel that, but what he's done with his anger is wrong, hence the title "villain." Does he have room for love in his heart, or are revenge and power all he seeks? He's a charmer, willing to pretend and say whatever you want to hear, but sometimes we hope he means it, even though we know we should know better.

The media loves him. The fans love him. I think I even love him. And I'm not sure I should. He's the bad guy, right? He's done terrible things. A smile here, a good joke there, and a little emotion we viewers can identify with don't change the fact that he's bad. But I think part of the reason I love him is that I am always hoping for character redemption. It's the same reason I love characters like Ben Linus, from TV's Lost, and Regina, from Once Upon a Time. There's more to those characters than just one-dimensional evilness. They are complicated, like us.

Having said all that, I also think there's a danger in that belief. We more easily overlook the truly awful things such characters have done. It's difficult to process a character like Loki morally, and I'm not saying I have the answers. It's just something to consider and something that needed mentioning on this blog.

Of course, there's a lot more to this story than Loki. There are darker villains, and oh, yeah, the heroes are pretty great, too. Thor may be a little too perfect now, unlike in the first movie, but I'm not going to complain about a good hero. In a superhero movie, it's probably best to keep a clear definition of good versus evil, especially when you have bad enough evil characters. There has to be good to balance it out. And morality is plenty murky in our world as it is.

Thor: The Dark World is appropriately rated PG-13 for some dark sci-fi action and violence, but it's nothing you wouldn't expect in a comic book movie. In short, if comic books and superheroes are your thing, this movie has it all and is worth seeing in the theater. Four and a half stars.

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