Countdown to the Avengers-II: Age of Ultron has begun.
While Iron-Man leads the race as usual, this time, Marvel has rehashed the God of Thunder, Thor in a slightly more darker, grittier outing than the last avatar. Does it score? Well yes and no. Thor being the invincible God that he is has a much steeper climb as compared to say, Tony Stark, whose box-office outing clicked this time sorely because of his human, vulnerable flawed side that came to the fore. We cannot say that much for the Hammer-wielding angry crown-prince who’s got daddy-issues, doesn’t trust his brother and pretty much has a geek goddess with a penchant for always falling into trouble, to deal with. Not to mention the Dark Lord of Elves who is obsessed with – no points in guessing – destroying the universe.
Thor: The Dark World has Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman reprise their original roles of the star-crossed lovers – Thor, the crown prince of Asgard and protector of the Nine realms of the world and Jane Foster – the geeky astrophysicist who can’t stay out of trouble and love. And while Natalie has precious much nothing to do other than run around with a GPS tracker, Chris brings in the full force of charisma behind the invincible God to perhaps save the movie.
The prologue tells the story of the Dark Elves led by their snarling Lord Malekith who plans to use the “Aether” to snuff out the Nine Realms and return the dark to rule this universe. But his bids are thwarted and the Aether safely buried at an unknown location.
Cut to the present where life goes on its normal axis: Thor continues to roam the Nine realms, bringing peace and protection to the citizens while Jane continues to sulk and pine in the hope of meeting that hulking hammer-wielding handsome stranger from outer space. All good and hunky-dory so far. Until Jane starts getting weird signals on her outer-space signal tracking device ( I have no idea what that was. Some kinda Universal GPS for Thor and other visitors from the other realms?) And identifies a black hole zone where soda-cans, beer bottles and car keys disappear when thrown into. With her penchant for getting into trouble, Jane gets entangled with the long-buried Aether (There are apparently seven Infinity stones in the universe – we already know of two, don’t we? Tesseract and Aether both with world shattering powers. We can imagine a reboot of the Marvel Series with all the rest five coming into play later on. Groans!) That triggers a universal chain of events – starting with the re-awakening of dark elves (long thought to be extinct, DUH!) as well as Thor’s re-emergence on Earth. Cataclysmic events unfold after that with the narrative pitching into the dark side of metaphysics and gravity.
Thor-II as the name suggests (The dark world) takes a detour through dark, gritty lands set in the Nine Realms but the saving grace are the moments of levity brought on by the self-obsessed snarky character of Loki, Thor’s brother – Tom Hiddleston reprising his role with a delightful glee. He steals the show in this outing – clearly scoring over other heavyweights like Anthony Hopkins (Odin, the brooding King of Asgard with too much on his plate) or Idris Alba (Playing the Heimdall, the Guardian of the Pathway called Bifrost)– court-jester extraordinaire. Adding to the humour are Kat Dennings (The girl from Two Broke Girls?) and Stellan Skarsgard who return to the screen as Jane’s intern and mentor respectively and have quite a few funny moments. In fact I felt there was an over-push on the humour element to leaven what would be otherwise a pretty loaded dark action-movie. The occasional smart-alecky quip even in the middle of an intense gravity and physics-defying climactic action piece? Come on!
The other great thing about the Thor-II is that the movie is a visual banquet: CGI Effects galore giving us colourful glimpses of the Nine Realms especially the Bifrost or the Pathway through the Realms. Be it the Star-Trek inspired stunning flying spaceship chase sequences or a Harry-Potterisque photobook that gives us a moving storyboard of the Dark Elves – all of this is partly magical and fully awe-inspiring. But throughout all this mind boggling rich stunning visuals, we still have that nagging feeling that maybe they went overboard on the magical visuals to cover up for a lackadaisical plodding plot? But it truly doesn’t matter as you settle down and join the fun in an explosive climax – full of twisting, harrowing gravity-defying leaps from one world to the other as physics and all laws of nature go haywire in the brief time that the Nine realms converge and align with each other.
There is no emotional turmoil or the angst-ridden edge of the seat tension that gripped you for the Iron-Man-3 movie. This one’s devoid of sharp edges but it’s a rollicking ride all the way. Set aside your misconceptions and give in to the comic-book sensibilities that define this movie franchise. Thor is an angry god with issues galore but you cannot ignore his Mjolnir as it shatters and cleaves its way through an army of the dark elves and elevates your senses to a fun-laden grandiose spectacle with an inspired visual design and a healthy dose of action-sequences.
Feel like you can’t get enough of the Marvel Universe? Hold your horses because if the post-credits teaser is any indication, then we aren’t done with the Infinity matters yet! And well, there is the next Captain America: Winter Soldier round the corner and you always have the Agents of Shield on television bridging the gaps for you. Marvel Overdose. But hey, who’s complaining?