Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
May 04th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Norse Latitudes

filmThor-The-Dark-WorldDespite mangled mythology, 'Thor: The Dark World' delivers the fun

With next year's Oscar race heating up on local screens, sometimes a critic just has to step away from the serious contenders and go have fun. Which for me this week meant slipping off to see Thor: The Dark World, a movie in little danger of snagging Academy gold, but which, after a rocky start, ratchets up the fun factor big time.

What elevates The Dark World above dozens of other noisy, overproduced comic book movies with Doomsday scenarios? For one thing, it's based on Norse mythology (very loosely based, I'll admit), so it has a more interesting pedigree than your typical guys-in-Spandex superhero movie. (At least the costumes are way more cool, so maybe I should rethink those Oscar chances.) For another, the script rises above mere jokiness to achieve a refreshing degree of humor and wit as it goes along. Chris Hemsworth's charismatic thunder god, Thor, delivers the eye candy, and Tom Hiddleston's utterly delicious performance as Thor's ne'er-do-well brother, the trickster god, Loki, seals the deal.

Directed by Alan Taylor, The Dark World begins with Odin (Anthony Hopkins), Father of the Gods of Asgard, explaining how the legions of Asgard defeated the evil Dark Elves centuries ago when the Elves tried to unleash a destructive force call Aether. Now, the Aether has been reawakened in its cosmic hiding place, and surviving Dark Elf, Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), and his minions, want to use it to destroy the inhabitants of the Nine Realms (a corner of galactic real estate that includes Asgard and Earth) and rule in place of the gods.

Or something. Who cares? Meanwhile, Thor and his posse—warrior woman Sif (Jaimie Alexander), Chinese warlord Hogun (Tadanobu Asano), and Vikings Fandral (Zachary Levi) and Volstagg (Ray Stevenson)— have been troubleshooting around the Nine Realms, quelling rebellion and such, but Thor's heart isn't in it; he pines for American scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), whom he apparently loved and lost in the first Thor movie.

When Jane and her team in London (including the very funny Kat Dennings) stumble across a weird time/space anomaly where the Aether is hidden, the malicious, vaporous goo infuses itself into Jane's being. Learning from Heimdall (the excellent Idris Elba), gatekeeper of Asgard, that Jane has disappeared from the earthly realm, Thor finds her and carries her back to Asgard—where Malekith and his minions soon come looking for her to complete their diabolical plan.

What's not fun is Malekith (operating out of a gigantic stealth spaceship) laying waste to Asgard with dogfighting space jets and automatic weapons; not only does it rob the myth of romance, isn't Asgard the fortress of the gods? But in this installment they're not really gods; Thor flies through the galaxies with his magic hammer, Loki shapeshifts at will, they may live for five thousand years, but they're still mortal. A newfound mortality that sets the stage for Thor allying himself with the scheming Loki in a desperate act of revenge that will also (hopefully) save the world.

Things perk up once Loki joins the team. Hiddleston delivers sardonic lines with insinuating precision, while he and Hemsworth craft a credibly embattled yet compelling rapport that keeps us guessing as their mission plays out. (And watch for a funny shapeshifting sequence where Loki momentarily morphs into Chris Evans' Captain America.) It's Portman who fails to make much of an impression. Her Jane seems out of her depth among these more interesting Asgardians—including a commanding turn by the always enjoyable Rene Russo as Odin's beloved wife Frigga, mother (at least in this version) of both Thor and Loki.

Despite the amped-up effects and redundant battles, when the movie sticks to Asgard, it looks great. The golden orb-like portal with its purring clockwork gears from which guardian Heimdall observes all life in the Nine Realms is beautifully done. And there's a truly stirring Viking funeral at sea, complete with arrow-shot fireballs that illuminate the night sky and sea like a million fairy lights. It may be standard-issue Marvel comics movie plot-wise, but at least in its best moments, Thor: The Dark World reminds us how cool Norse mythology can be. 


THOR: THE DARK WORLD ★ ★ ★ (out of four) With Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, and Anthony Hopkins. Written by Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, and Stephen McFeely. Directed by Alan Taylor. A Walt Disney release. Rated PG-13. 112 minutes.

Comments (1)Add Comment
...
written by ronelopieza, February 12, 2014
anu ang NURSE LATITUDE ..???

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Mountain Mystic

When Cora Evans died in Boulder Creek in 1957, her thousands of pages of religious writings hadn’t yet been published. More than a half a century later, Evans’ fiery visions and spiritual devotion have inspired a crusade within Catholicism to make her the Santa Cruz Mountains’ first saint

 

Wesak (Water) Taurus Solar Festival, Buddha Blesses the Earth

A most important celebration occurs Sunday, May 3—the Wesak Taurus Buddha Solar Festival/full moon. At the moment of the full moon the Buddha’s presence enters the Earth plane for eight minutes. He brings the Will-to-Good from the Father, which, when reaching humanity becomes goodwill (Mother Principle). Held yearly in a valley hidden deep within the Himalayas, the Wesak festival is prepared for for months in advance (beginning at Winter Solstice). On festival day, amidst pilgrims, disciples and Holy Ones gathered in the valley, the Buddha is invoked through movement, symbols and mantrams. At the moment of the full moon, hearing the words, “We are ready, Buddha, come,” the Lord of Illumination (brother of the Christ) appears in the clouds above the altar to emanate forth the will and purpose of God to earth. The blessing of the father is then held in safekeeping for distribution at the June full moon Goodwill Festival. The day of Wesak (May 3, 8:42 p.m. West Coast) all disciples (east and west) place crystal vessels filled with pure water outside (in gardens, on rooftops, porches and steps) under the heavens. As the Buddha blesses the world, all waters, including waters within our bodies, are blessed. The Buddha is accompanied by the Forces of Enlightenment to illuminate humanity’s minds. Humanity then begins to express new constructive, productive and beneficial ways of the Art of Livingness. Wesak covers five days—two days (before) of dedicated preparation, the actual festival “Day of Safeguarding,” and two days (after) distributing goodwill (the NGWS to humanity). Join us in the Valley by reciting the Great Invocation, mantra of direction for humanity.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of May 1

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Hole in the Wall

Popular Aptos spot opens for dinner

 

How do you connect with the natural world?

My connection to the natural world is through my art. I totally feel it there very physically in nature and even right here on the street. Jonathan Rosen, Felton, Pastor

 

Hess Collection Winery

My friend Emma from London came to visit for a few days in early March, so I took her wine tasting in the Santa Cruz Mountains—a rare treat for her, as there aren’t too many vineyards in the middle of London. Her visit reminded me how fortunate we are to live in this paradise of ultra-fresh produce, with grapes growing in wild profusion.

 

Springtime Walkabout

May Day Flower Festival, free tours of the UCSC Farm, and a nondairy chocolate indulgence