Thursday, May 12, 2016

Recap: "Thor: The Dark World" Part 3: All Corners of the World

Alright, time for our motley crew of ragtag heroes to band together and defeat an ancient evil that took an entire Asgardian army to overpower last time. Not that I'm complaining. This is standard operating procedure for some of my favorite movies.

The Avengers, Independence Day, Star Trek: First Contact....
Our heroes (and Loki) fly their craft towards their destination as Thor has a chat with his brother. Loki tries to get the point across to Thor that his relationship with Jane is doomed even if she survives this. Thor will live centuries after Jane grows old and dies. Speaking of death, the conversation heads even further South as the two hash out their issues. Thor thinks that Loki never lived up to Frigga's trust, but Loki thinks that Thor betrayed it by letting her die. The two nearly come to blows... but they both stand down.

Thor: "She wouldn't want us to fight."
Loki: "Well, she wouldn't exactly be shocked."

Loki allows himself a chuckle, but Thor simply wishes that he could still trust his brother.

Loki: "Trust my rage."

Back in London, Darcy has sprung Erik from the mental ward, with help from Ian, masquerading as Erik's son.

Erik: "How did you find me?"
Ian: "You were naked on TV."

After a prolonged hug, they all head off while Erik reaches into his bag of pills and takes a hit of his medicine.
Ian: "Are you alright?"
Erik: "I've had a god in my brain. I don't recommend it."

Once outside, Erik's gear goes ding, because stuff is happening. Sooner than he planned. Above their heads, a flock of starlings, which Ian points out is called a "murmuration")....

Darcy: "Nerd."

...disappears into an invisible portal before emerging from another one below their feet. Erik is simply glad that the world is crazier than he is, and tosses away his pills while asking to be taken to Jane's lab. Because I’m sure that going cold turkey on all those meds he’s been taking won’t lead to any sort of withdrawal symptoms or anything.

Over in Svartalfheim, Jane wakes up from her little fainting spell in time to see Malekith's ship land. As Malekith and Algrim exit alongside Dark Elf warriors, Thor and Loki prepare their plan of attack from a ridge above.

Loki: "You know, this plan of yours is going to get us killed."
Thor: "Yes, possibly."

Okay, that’s the final Lord of the Rings reference; I promise.
Loki raises up his manacles, and Thor undoes them. As a way of saying "thank you" to Thor, Loki shanks him with his hidden knife, to Jane's horror. Thor rolls down the ridge as Loki and Jane follow. Loki gloats about how he never cared about Frigga and everything was just part of his master plan to have Odin and Thor killed. Thor attempts to summon his hammer, but Loki solves this problem by cutting Thor's hand off.

Between Thor and Anakin Skywalker, this is becoming a thing with Natalie Portman’s boyfriends.
Loki: "Malekith! I am Loki of Jotunheim, and I bring you a gift. I ask for only one thing in return. A good seat from which to watch Asgard burn."

"I like this guy."
Algrim confirms to Malekith that Loki was a prisoner, so his story checks out. So Malekith makes a big show to Thor as he mentally lifts Jane into the air, preparing to syphon the Aether from her body. And he does. All according to plan.

As the Aether provides a final vision of the universe going dark to Jane, Loki undoes his illusion of a handless Thor while Thor zaps the Aether with his lightning. But after the smoke clears, the shattered fragments of the Aether reform around Malekith, giving him the power he'd always wanted. And now that they have their unstoppable weapon, the Dark Elves prepare to leave while Algrim tosses over one last black hole grenade for the road. Loki pushes Jane out of its way, but nearly gets sucked in himself until Thor tackles him to safety.

Thor tries to ground the Dark Elf ship, but only gets a backhand from Algrim for his troubles. With Thor and company being more of a nuisance than the Elves were counting on, Algrim and a small platoon get left behind to deal with the heroes. Loki easily fights the latter, but the former gives Thor some trouble.

Now, as I watched the fight in the theatre, I thought I knew exactly how it would end. In the comics, the nearly-invulnerable Kurse has a weakness against simple iron, so I expected that to be cleverly implemented somehow. Perhaps Jane would have some iron in her jewelry or something. But to my disappointment, they would simply whip out the ol' "Use-the-bad-guy's-own-weapon-against-them" trick. Though I'll admit that whipping out the iron thing at the last second would probably come across as pretty cheap.

Thor ends up on the ground, helpless. Algrim even deflects Mjolnir when Thor tries to summon it. Btu as it looks like Algrim's beating will be Thor's end, Loki shoves a sword through Algrim's back. In turn, Algrim turns around and impales Loki.

Loki: "See you in Hel, monster."

At the cost of his own life, Loki activated Algrim's last black hole grenade. And the result is shockingly brutal.

See Algrim's eyes, there?
There they go!
Loki's body slowly turns back to a pale color closer to its natural blue tint as Thor rushes over to his brother.

Thor: "I promise to tell father what you did here today."
Loki: "I didn't do it for him."

And so, the trickster dies. Thor howls in rage, and even Jane fights back tears, despite the fact that the guy attacked New York. But alas, Thor and Jane are soon forced to take shelter in a cave as a sandstorm nears. Jane tells Thor about her vision showing Malekith on Earth, for some reason. Thor realizes that, due to the Convergence, Earth will not only be the center of the Nine Realms, but connected to each one. (“Midgard” means “Middle Earth,” remember?) A perfect place to spread eternal darkness from.

Jane blames herself for getting involved in all this, but Thor tells her that if it weren't for her, Malekith would have had the Aether sooner. Which is a complete lie, since it was her act of bonding with the Aether that woke him up in the first place, but whatever.

But before Thor and Jane can get all makey-outy in a cave, her phone goes off. She gets phone reception in Svartalfheim, and I can't get any bars at my own house? But actually, she's as shocked as I am to be hearing from anyone right now. It seems as though Richard the Goober has decided to give Jane a call.

"No, I can talk. I'm just making some dumb movie right now."
He seems to still be convinced that he's in a romantic comedy, and is calling from the office to tell her about how he's been thinking about that lunch they had. Or didn’t have. He tries to set up some new plans while Jane tells him to stay on the phone no matter what. She manages to track her cell phone service deeper into the cave, where she stumbles on a soda can as well as the keys Ian tossed into a random portal at the beginning of the movie. As she leads Thor deeper into the cavern, he has an important question.

Thor: "Why are there so many shoes in here?"

Jane arrives on Earth as Richard the Goober hangs up and decides to just text her. Using the keys Ian threw into a portal, she manages to get Darcy's car started, and she and Thor drive off to her place.

Thor: "So, who's Richard?"
Jane: "Really?"

What, didn't Heimdall tell Thor that he was watching her date another dude?

Jane and Thor soon arrive at her place, where Darcy, Ian, and Erik are trying to track the weird, Convergencey-portaly stuff. In a nice touch, Thor hangs Mjolnir up on the coat rack, because Chris Hemsworth figured Thor would be familiar with the tradition of checking your weapons as you entered a friend's house.

The coat rack is worthy.
The reunion between Jane and Erik is a pleasant one, save for his lack of pants as they hug.

Ian: "He says it helps him think."

I can't really judge him. I write these Recaps in my underwear all the time.
But Jane keeps hers on as she gets to work while Thor and Erik talk.

Erik: "Your brother's not coming, is he?"
Thor: "Loki is dead."
Erik: "Oh, thank God. I... I meant, I'm so sorry."

They share a quick hug, too, before we cut back to Svartalfheim, where an Einherjar briefly glows with that distinctive Loki-illusion glow. He heads back to Asgard and finds Odin in the throne room and tells him that Thor and Aether are gone and Loki is dead.

Back at Jane’s place, Jane says that Malekith is no doubt planning to use the Aether in the exact center of the Convergence, for best results with the Aether. Luckily, Malekith will have a very short window to do so. But even so, they need to figure out exactly where the epicenter of the Convergence is.

Darcy: "Well, how do we know where that is?"
Erik: "We follow the directions."

Erik explains that every civilization in history used the wonky gravity of the last Convergence to build their great wonders. The pyramids, the Great Wall, Stonehenge, et cetera. Also, that’s kind of a dumb plot point for a couple reasons.

First of all, from what we’ve seen, the Convergence only lasts about a week, tops. You’re telling me that the pyramids were all built in the same week? Second of all, the pyramids were not only built at different times, but a few thousand years before the Great Wall was. And Stonehenge was built over a thousand years before that. And there can't have been three or four Convergences, since Heimdall mentioned that they hadn't seen one since before he started keeping watch.

But using ancient wonders to triangulate, Erik places the center of the Convergence in… Greenwich. Which means that Greenwich Mean Time is synched up with the center of all creation. Fine, we’ll go with that.

Jane: "Physics is going to go ballistic. Increases and decreases in gravity, spatial extrusions. The very fabric of reality is going to be torn apart."

So Thor summons Mjolnir as the others get ready to go.

Erik: "I better get my pants."

The next day, Darcy and Ian get ready to hammer Erik's devices into the ground around Greenwich so Jane can activate them remotely from the tower and protect Earth from the Convergence, protecting the universe from the Aether. As they work, Malekith's invisible ship uncloaks and makes one heck of an entrance by crashing in from the Thames.

Christopher Eccleston, a disguised spaceship, and modern-day London? I feel like there’s a joke in that somewhere….
After crunching up the ground, the ship finally stops, allowing Malekith to get out and prepare to remake the universe. As he disembarks, a portal opens up in the sky like this was New York in 2012.

But no Iron Man with a nuke to save the day.
And like in 2012, Thor arrives to try and save the day.

Malekith: "You needn't have come so far, Asgardian. Death would've come to you soon enough."
Thor: "Not by your hand."
Malekith: "Your universe was never meant to be. Your world and your family will be extinguished!"

The final battle begins as Malekith uses his new Aether-induced powers to fight Thor. Up in the tower, Erik expresses doubts over the plan to use his devices to cause portals, rather than their intended function of detecting them. Which is completely founded, since that’s like saying you could rig up a barometer to change the surrounding air pressure, or heat something up with a thermometer.

Thor manages to hold his own against Malekith’s increased might while Darcy and Ian hammer in the last spike as more portals open. According to Erik's calculations, the full effect of the Convergnce will be in seven minutes.

Jane: "That just means we have to keep Malekith busy for eight."

And she uses her control panel to activate one of the spikes and zap away a few Elves, meaning that they successfully managed to convert Erik’s scientific equipment into teleportation mines. Unfortunately, a second blast warps away Ian and Darcy, too. Potentially to the farthest reaches of all creation. Luckily, they simply end up elsewhere in London. Unluckily, some teleported Dark Elves follow them.

Thor and Malekith continue to have their climactic battle while Erik and Jane fail to get gawkers away from the action. Thanks to Jane's portal-mines, Thor and Malekith’s fight goes to Svartalfheim and back a few times, probably because it would be too expensive for the cgi guys to create another world for them to be teleported to, like Muspelheim. But now that I mention it, Muspelheim originally would have been involved, here, with Thor having a quick fight with the Fire Demon Surtur. But all we get is a quick glimpse into a portal filled with lava.

Unfortunately for Thor, a toss of his hammer sends it back to Earth, whereupon it flies into space in an attempt to head back to Thor's hand in Svartalfheim while Malekith gets his second wind. The fight ends up warping them back to London on top of the Gherkin, allowing Thor to summon his hammer... but he’s barely unable to catch it, due to Thor and Malekith falling into another portal. To add to the ongoing chaos, some British fighter jets manage to fly into Vanaheim while attempting to help, much to Hogun's confusion.

“Wait, am I still in this movie?”
Erik and Jane run from more Dark Elves while Thor and Malekith avoid some kind of beast in Jotunheim. Luckily, it gets warped to Earth and attacks some Dark Elves.

And I can only imagine that it eats all the Dark Elves because they all suddenly disappear from the narrative.
Darcy and Ian, meanwhile, prefer to keep running from the Dark Elves. But when they threaten Darcy, Ian gets the idea to lift a car and throw it at them, which makes sense. While the gravity weirdness eliminates the car’s weight, it still sure as heck has all of its mass; mass which he rams into the Elves.

Or maybe he's hulking out.
Darcy: "You saved my life."

Elsewhere, Jane and Erik teleport away a few more Dark Elves, replacing them with Darcy and Ian getting all makey-outy.

Jane: "Darcy?"
Darcy: "Jane!"
Erik: "Ian!"
Ian: "Selvig!"

And Thor's hammer flies by, attempting to find its master.

Darcy: "Mew-mew!"

But Thor is nowhere near his hammer, finding himself in the London underground, instructed to mind the gap. After getting directions, he rides the tube to Greenwich, where a woman "accidentally" bumps into him.

Could be worse.
This happens to Cap all the time.
People just can't help themselves.
No one is safe.
With Thor busy on the subway, the portals align above Malekith as he summons a whirlwind made from Aether.

Jane: "We're out of time."

As the whirlwind swirls into the portals in the air, beginning to infect Asgard, Thor arrives on the scene to help. Erik's teleportation spikes could stop Malekith, but they can't get close enough.

Thor: "I can."

So Thor grabs the spikes and heads inside the whirlwind.

Malekith: "Have you come to witness the end of your universe?"
Thor: "I've come to accept your surrender."

This is apparently a lie, since he prepares to kill Malekith.

Which, to be fair, he also did the last time he accepted a surrender.
Thor starts tossing spikes at Malekith, allowing Jane to teleport him across the realms, piece by piece.

Malekith: "The Aether cannot be destroyed!"
Thor: "But you can."

Mjolnir finally manages to land in Thor's hand, and he uses it to knock Malekith back and impale him, sending his body far away across the Nine Realms into Svartalfheim In the aftermath pf Thor’s victory, a teleported-away chunk of Malekith's ship threatens to send the rest of the ship onto a now-unconscious Thor, but it ends up falling through a portal onto Malekith; karmic revenge for all those Elves he killed by crashing their ships.

Thor opens his eyes, Ian and Darcy make out, and the day is officially saved. Even the fighter pilots return from Vanaheim safely. Sometime later, Jane, Ian, Erik, and Darcy eat a nice, relaxing, normal breakfast.

Darcy: “He's gonna come back. 'Cept, you know, last time, he was gone for, like, two years.”
Jane: "Well, it's only been two days, so..."

Jane tells the others that Thor said something about figuring some stuff out with his dad.

Jane: "He kind of committed treason... on our way out."

And so, back in Asgard, we cut to an oddly chill reunion between father and son.

Odin: "You once said there would never be a wiser king than me."

Yeah, but didn’t he also call you an old man and a fool?

Odin: "You were wrong."

Thanks to the day-saving and all, Odin is more ready than ever to get Thor’s butt on that throne But as ever, Thor politely declines.

Thor: "I will protect Asgard and all the realms with my last and every breath, but I cannot do so from that chair."

Thor says that Loki, flawed though he was, understood how to be a king more that Thor ever will. Oh, the irony.

Thor: "The brutality, the sacrifice. It changes you. I'd rather be a good man than a great king."
Odin: "Is this my son I hear, or the woman he loves?"
Thor: "When you speak, do I never hear mother's voice?"

Thor also says that this choice is his and his alone. Whatever Odin decrees or declares or offers, Thor's mind is made up.

Odin: "One son who wanted the throne too much, another who will not take it. Is this my legacy?"

“Well, that plus the sons you always forget, dad.”
"Who are you?"
But Odin agrees to Thor's terms, even refusing to take back Mjolnir.

Odin: "It belongs to you. If you are worthy of it."

Odin can't really approve of what Thor's doing, but he lets Thor know that if he could be, he would be.

Odin: "If I were proud of the man my son had become, even that, I could not say. It would speak only from my heart. Go, my son."

And as Thor heads off, we see exactly why Odin's tune seems to have changed....

"Are you ever not going to fall for that?"
Needless to say, there are some serious implications.

More than just the fact that Loki has stolen his dad's chair.
And on that cliffhanger, we're left with no fewer than two more scenes. In the first one, Volstagg and Sif replace Tyr in a scene that was refilmed to exclude him. In some kind of weird sci-fi chamber, they pass a cocoon that looks just like the one Adam Warlock sprung from in the comics...

Here's hoping this goes somewhere and isn't just a random cameo.
...and some other oddities before a pink woman leads them to her master... Tanileer Tivan, the Collector (Benicio del Toro). They're here to give him something.

Collector: "But, if I may ask, why not keep it secure in your on vault?"
Volstagg: "The Tesseract is already on Asgard. It's not wise to keep two Infinity Stones so close together."

And so, they hand over the Aether, knowing full well that a guy named "the Collector" probably won't want to part with it or use it. But after they leave, the downside to this idea rears its ugly head.

Collector: "One down, five to go...."

Way to give a guy called the Collector the first part of a set. Why did you think he wouldn’t want the rest?

So… yeah, this is a little weird, isn’t it?

And not just his little bow.
Two warriors from Asgard nonchalantly visiting an alien on a space station. Strictly speaking, it fits in with the idea that Asgardians are just one of the many denizens of outer space… but the abrupt shift in tone is just so… jarring.

James Gunn shot this scene as he was filming Guardians of the Galaxy, and Alan Taylor has said that he’s happy to not take credit for it. Though Taylor has since apologized, since he was apparently very disappointed with the final result. I’ll get to that in the Review.

In the second scene, Thor returns to London to make out with Chris Hemsowrth's wife Elsa Pataky, standing in for Natalie Portman, who was unavailable for reshoots.

His most passionate kiss isn't with Natalie Portman. I'll get to that in the Review.
Elsewhere, the beast from Jotunheim chases a murmuration of starlings through an abandoned parking lot. And with that, the movie well and truly ends.

So it's time to Review, then. And also time to explain that I neither hate this movie in general, nor the Dark Elves specifically.

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