Lots of Smoke, But Just as Much Fire

tobacco Knights presents

Installment 8: Thor: The Dark World

2013 Directed by Alan Taylor

From the avalanche of voiced-over backstory and mythical lore in the opening battle sequence I immediately found myself taking more mental notes than my brain could absorb. I made it about another 45 minutes before my eyes glazed over and it was time for bed. Not a good idea to attempt such a whirlwind of plots on so little sleep….

So, let’s try again. The second time around after some decent shut-eye I was able to grasp a little more of Thor: The Dark World. A little. Some of the “who” and “what” details were still confusing but, like most of these MCU journeys, all you really need to know is who the villain is and what source of power he/she is after – in this case a Dark Elf named Malekith and a red morphing blob known as the Aether – and you’re good to go if you just roll with it. It also helps if you have an MCU savant in the form of your friendly fiancée on the couch next to you, eager to provide educational support when she sees your lips purse and eyebrows furrow in uncertainty.

I really enjoyed the first Thor. The characters and the actors portraying them, the story and the realms they took place in, the director and the look he gave the film. So I was really looking forward to this one, even if it was just to see those characters in those realms again directed by someone else. While I was thrown off a bit with the immediate bombardment of historical backstory, all those familiar faces made it ok, and this new director seemed to have a pretty good handle on things and was in keeping with the original in terms of look and pace. And I could tell it was a pretty good story too, even if the overflow of details got lost on me. Some of the dialogue got a little Gilmore Girlish at times from Kat Dennings, and the morph montage of MCU cameos that Loki put on to irk Thor was kinda lame, but it was easy to fight through given how much I like the actors.

By the end credits, I was satisfied with the overall experience (which sounds more like a visit to the dentist than a positive movie review). But I could tell there was an interesting, if not complicated, story there, and it was pulled off competently enough by the filmmakers and actors. Perhaps I’ll read the Wikipedia page to fill in the blanks….

The One Thing: The performances from most of the main actors was what I really enjoyed the most. Tom Hiddleston definitely has to take top billing for me, as he continues to steal every moment he is on the screen. He has that charismatic quality that all great movie villains have of smiling when they’re angry and frowning when they’re happy, and looking great while doing it. Even his haggard bad-hair-day look when mourning his mother’s death in his prison cell was captivating. Chris Hemsworth continues to be a great Thor. As bombastic of a character as that can be, he never overdoes it, and you get the sense that Chris Hemsworth the actor in real life is an intelligent and interesting dude, not just a pretty gym rat with a well-connected agent. Stellan Skarsgard is good enough to get away with running around naked and crazy, something not every good actor can pull off even in a tongue-in-cheek way without eliciting a few face-slaps in audience. I have to say Anthony Hopkins took a step back for me from the first Thor. He was OK, but seemed more gruff and grouchy than wise and pensive, almost as if Hopkins himself was a bit tired of the role and just barking out the lines rather than giving depth to them. Idris Elba again makes a perfect Heimdall, and makes me want to go back and watch Luther beginning to end. Former Dr. Who Christopher Eccleston, buried under a pile of white braided hair and a ton of alien make-up, was great as the Dark Elf nemesis Malekith. As with the first film, I wasn’t that big on Kat Dennings and Natalie Portman, but they worked well enough to serve the plot. Much better performances from the females for me went to Rene Russo and Jaime Alexander, even if the roles were a bit minor. And last but not least, I love Benecio Del Toro, but The Collector closing scene seemed more like an outtake from Super Mario Brothers than a cool MCU epilogue.

Just Blowing Smoke: Padron has always produced a good smoke. Sure the pricey ’64 and the ’26 are revered classics, but even the less expensive 4000 series is really just as good. And the new Connecticut wrapped Padron Damaso continues this great tradition. I’m a big fan of the mild Connecticut, but they can get a bit unexciting if that’s all you smoke, and for me it’s good to mix in some heavier sticks for a change of pace, which is what I’ve been doing the last couple weeks (the few days in Berlin I recently spent, where Cubans are of course legal, had a lot to do with this). So coming back to the lighter shade of things with this new smooth and tasty smoke was a great hour of enjoyment. It’s got a bit of a price tag on it, but well worth it, and not quite as much as Padron’s highest end editions.

(So…. After going back now and reading the Plot section on the Wikipedia page, it’s easy to see how they had to hit the ground running on expository info. It’s actually a really good read, there’s a lot there, and of course it makes everything make more sense now. I’ve also read some things about the 2017 prospect of Thor: Ragnarok, and I’m definitely all in. And will make sure I’ve had enough sleep.)

To read The Nerdling’s review of Thor: The Dark World click here

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UberApe inhabits a forested area of Dallas, TX. His favorite pastimes are movies, cigars, hockey, and climbing over balconies of tall buildings.

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