Thor: The Dark World: A Beyond the Bunker review

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BTB Reviews Movie

Marvel’s got a hell of a challenge ahead of it, particularly with Thor. With Robert Downey Jr hanging up his french waiter moustache and goatee until Avengers: Age of Ultron, the weight of convincing crowds that Marvel has what it takes to make us deal out the dosh to see Captain America: Winter Soldier, Ant Man and Guardians of the Galaxy before the next team building exercise and universe bending threat to humanity falls on the not insignificany shoulders of the God of Thunder himself, this time directed by Game of Thrones' and first time blockbuster movie director; Alan Taylor.

Of the three (four) big hitters in the Avengers, Thor's films are by far the broadest in setting and effectively most responsible for setting the outer limits of the Marvel Universe, presenting a massive challenge. It was the villain of Thor (Tom Hiddleston's Loki) that represented the threat in the showcase movie Avengers (we don't call it Avengers Assemble here) after all – so while Thor is the least profitable (by a small margin) and arguably the slightest of the original three movie franchises that lead to Avengers in spite of capable direction from Shakespearite Kenneth Branagh – it carries with it the burden of being potentially the most influential. This film is no different, with Iron Man 3 resolving Tony Stark's story arc until the new Avengers film and the trailer for Captain America making it clear that it's focus is one of internal conflict and very human warfare, the onus is on Thor to kick the excitement for Avengers: Age of Ultron up a notch. This it does with absolute aplomb, a wry sense of humour and a sense of it’s audience rarely seen in an established franchise.

We find a cast very much changed by the events of Avengers, some of which finally have the opportunity to be developed more effectively with a plot that deals much more with the nine realms of which Earth (Midgard) and Thor's home (Asgard) are only two. Most improved are the formerly peripheral and comic book mainstays otherwise known as the Warriors Three (Hogun, Fandral and a slightly less voluminous Volstagg) and Thor's female interest in Asgard, Sif. Though Tadanobu Asano's Hogun is out pretty early on. The film pauses deliberately to present these characters a little better, Volstagg now better realised by the brilliant Ray Stevenson (Rome, Punisher: War Zone) and Zachary Levi as dashing Fandral stirs memories of old Robin Hood movies. Sif's clear love for Thor as a subplot is an interesting and welcome development in Sif's character, though she is used sparingly in action sequences and the first to be removed from the equation when the action begins to heat up, something regrettable as Jaimie Alexander is such a capable actress, Sif an interesting character and both are such bona fide hotties.

Rene Russo's Frigga, as Thor's mother takes a more prominent role in proceedings as well, as the influence she has over her husband Odin (Anthony Hopkins), her real son, Thor and step son, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is the linking subplot that allows three warring characters to find any common ground.

But, hilariously, it's the master stroke of Stellan Skarsgård's Dr. Erik Selvig and his burgeoning mental illness that wins the film over. Rather than sideline him as a result of him being driven mad because he 'had a god in my head', Selvig becomes welcome relief from earnest and worthy moments threatening to become too overbearing and tipping the plot into farce by taking itself too seriously. Kat Dennings' assistant Darcy Lewis and her 'interns intern Ian Boothby played by Jonathan Howard create very neat comic moments and IT Crowd's Chris O' Dowd as Dr Jane Foster's (still ably played by Natalie Portman) doomed alternative love interest rounds out a very well used set of side characters.

Playing Doctors and Norses: Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) meet up in a pub car park....

Playing Doctors and Norses: Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) meet up in a pub car park….

If I haven’t mentioned the primary cast of Hemsworth, Portman, Hiddleston and Hopkins (and Idris Elba as all-seeing Heimdall) it is because there is little change amongst any of them. They are uniformly great, with only Hopkins seemingly phoning it in a little at the very beginning. They occupy the centre of the plot brilliantly, each fulfilling the potential of the characters well. Hemsworth himself proves himself a generous and humble actor in scenes with others, giving a the god of thunder the depth of storm clouds in quieter moments and allowing other characters to share the limelight in one on one scenes.

It is perhaps the familiarity of the archetypes that causes the film to slightly dip in the centre however. Away from the cast of unusual and offbeat side characters the course the characters take is almost unavoidably predictable. Not boring at any point, and peppered with nice moments which will make you laugh unexpectedly. However, the main tract of the tale take second place to the decidedly enjoyable character moments. When the main plot takes over, it can’t help but become a slightly predictable, if exceptionally well paced and directed, fantasy fare.

Aside from occasional hiccups in the edit the film is littered with curiousities and odd decisions that are later satisfactorily resolved, which highlights how this film isn’t being written by template. It can be argued it under utilises a cast capable of greater emotional depth but it does so in order to remind itself that it is a superhero yarn and one that demands a heavy dose of fun and would suffer from too much hand-wringing. Never the less the relationship between Odin and Thor at loggerheads in the first film as a loving father and son incapable of agreeing on anything is satisfyingly realised here. The writing of a character as unpredictable as Loki leaves you guessing how many bluffs and double bluffs you’re seeing with red herrings subtle and layered as the God of Mischief tries to justify his actions enough to disappoint everyone all over again – a highly enjoyable tight rope walk for a sympathetic character – and one that pays off nicely.

Portman’s involvement draws parallels with the Star Wars franchise and there are touches of Padme Amidala in her appearance, but it is the blend between mythology and science fiction, well realised in this case, that makes Thor: The Dark World the film the Phantom Menace and Clone Wars should have been. The idea that technological advancement creates worlds reminiscent of fantasy epics works because secretly it’s an ideal existence, a comfortable blend between nature, control of physics (advanced science giving rise to magic that utilises great power) and balance. Here, the Marvel universe draws together the ideas that the Star Wars saga failed to and it’s exciting and impressive to behold.

Perhaps most notably for a resident of the denizens of London, it looked (with only one exception) like the city we know well, a refreshing change from interesting global landmarks used as interchangable backdrops for unintelligible action sequences or the foppish, lamp lit London of Richard Curtis romantic comedies. Neither does it rely on overly recognisable landmarks, this film is brave enough to put the action away from the obvious tourist track and for that it deserves credit – though recognisable landmarks to Londoners are used briefly and effectively to raise a smile. Having said that, those with a clear knowledge of the underground will definitely take umbridge with one otherwise well placed London Transport gag. Put simply, without showing the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s, the O2, The London Eye or Trafalgar Square this film manages to depict a city both recognisable to Londoners and attractive to tourists. Something it’d be good to see in other films.

Enormous ideas are realised with effective visual shorthand and a recurring light touch. Happily, having watched a film that involved alien starships, multiple dimensions and gods the thing I admire most about it, particularly after the seemingly pointless carnage of Star Trek: Into Darkness and Man of Steel, is it’s self control. Thor maintains the Marvel tradition of understanding that devastation doesn’t have to be global, total or even city wide. With effective set pieces the final battle, while grand, is geographically contained (at least while limited to this dimension) but is more engaging as a result.

This an incredibly assured debut to mainstream film making, with the risks that Marvel are taking paying off film after film. If any of you are waiting for Marvel to falter, this film most certainly isn’t it. Based on the trailer of Captain America: Winter Soldier and the now traditional title sequence clips, Marvel isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. Unexpectedly, perhaps, the concern over the end of Downey Jr’s run as Iron Man as a franchise in it’s own right was misplaced, his absence now allowing focus to fall on extremely worthy elements of the Marvel Universe. We say more of this and Marvel will secure its place with one of the finest legacies in movie history.

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Iron Age: The Iron Man 3 Trailer

Hard to know how to follow up Iron Man 1 and 2 and the obvious triumph of Avengers (Assemble). Seems the people over at Marvel Entertainment have a clear idea. Smash everything to bits and start again. Reminiscent of Iron Man’s … um.. tangy.. story a little while back where Hammer and Norman Osborn took everything from him, someone looking suspiciously like Hammer and someone who would no doubt be Norman Osborn if someone else didn’t have Spider-man are taking everything from him…

And Gandhi’s forgotten his oath of non violent protest, found some rings and gone all heavily armoured Sexy Beast. Frankly, I can’t wait!! Great cast and a brilliant premise. The double whammy of two villains in the form of Iron Patriot and the Mandarin has rarely been done well but let’s see what happens here… please, please, please keep it up Marvel.

Tout L’Armour: Iron Patriot shots from Iron Man 3

Yo and behold – Iron Patriot spangles up proceedings in Iron Man 3. These on-set shots from the new Avengers movie (already in production – good work Marvel!!) reveal a very starry eyed surprise for one Mr Anthony Stark. Interesting choice of Bad Guy that might’ve suggested that yet again, the Mandarin has been put on the back-burner for the new movie. But no…

While Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce have already been confirmed to take on nemesis roles in the upcoming film, it seems that there is another villainous character on the scene.

The discovery of Iron Patriot as a potential third villain (played by James Badge Dale) suggests things might be getting a little crowded on set for part 3. Considering that no comicx book adaptation with more than one full-on super villain has ever truly worked it seems like a weird gambit on Marvel’s behalf but if anyone’s gonna pull it off… watch this space.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2152633/Iron-Man-3-villain-James-Badge-Dale-seen-Iron-Patriot-set.html#ixzz1wTVwUG8i

The First Gameplay Trailer for Marvel MMO

So here it is!! Marvel have gone even closer to taking over the universe by introducing a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (note the lack of RPG at the end of the title). I had to look all those acronyms up and I’m uncertain as to how it’s Massively Multiplayer but not role play as I thought the Role Play part was pretty straight forward to add. Clearly you can’t dress Wolverine in a tutu or make Iron Man a mystic with a goat as a pet – but you kind of have to ask – why not? In spite of this, the idea of being able to be any of possibly hundreds of Marvel Heroes is pretty fun. Available on the PC, at some point…

Guardians of the Galaxy Movie? : Avengers meet the Guardians of the Galaxy!!

We here at Beyond the Bunker are convinced that Rocket Raccoon is an irresistable possibility for Marvel to not make into a movie. The combination of Armoured smart talker (Peter Quill), uncertain galactic powerhouse (Captain Marvel), mysterious magic man (Warlock), Giant Man Tree (Groot) and a cockney Raccoon seems like blockbuster gold to me and the various plot lines that we’re seeing build up are looking like they might suggest at least a cameo for this lot in the next four movies released by Marvel.

This little clip goes some way towards pointing in that direction but are our predictive powers maybe over stretching a little? ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ says Iron Man in a voice that suggests he’s about to be dragged away by his frat buddies to a kegger on the other side of campus ‘like Space Avengers…’

Yes, Tony Stark (script writer of this episode) like the biggest grossing movie ever made …. only in space…… hmmmmm.

If I get a chance to talk to Joe Quesada this weekend I’m asking for a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Once, long ago, I was pretty reserved about this stuff….

Major (but awesome) Spoiler about the Avengers Villain

Back in November, we wrote an article about whether or not Thanos was secretly the true Avengers movie bad guy. It was thrown together with ideas of Whedon’s natural layering of threats in previous projects, Marvel’s cavalier attitude to plots and introductions of unusual and exciting characters and Thanos himself being cool as all hell and associated with cubes. The whole article effectively gave reason after reason as to why it should be true then I crapped out in the last paragraph and said no probably not.

But word is beginning to spread that ol’ purple radiator face does indeed make an appearance in the Avengers movie. Also, that shots showing Loki working alongside the Avengers (Oh Loki, when will you ever learn) suggest that things go awry and that a dark force more powerful than the God of Mischief intervenes. This, I believe, ain’t Thanos but we have recieved a comment from someone fortunate enough to see the Avengers Assemble claiming that Thanos is right there at the end of the credits. Other sources are saying he’s perrenially involved in Loki’s plot though not the prevailing threat of the film.

Nevertheless, if Thanos is in the all important final reel at the end of the credits then Marvel is beefing him up for something. Io9.com was mentioning the other day a veiled reference by a Marvel Exec about a feature involving a Raccoon and a tree and Marvel Galaxies saw Thanos versus Nova, Gladiator et al just last year. This points to an incredibly promising possibility. That Marvel intend to move their new features further out perhaps than anyone would expect and push out a Galactic movie. Guardians of the Galaxy: the Movie anyone?

The worst part is we had Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning right in front of us just this weekend and all I talked to Andy Lanning about was what ink to use and I spoke to Dan and his lovely wife about embarrassing myself in front of Simon Pegg at a Star Wars Con I was working at. I was priding myself on my restraint after embarrassing myself in front of Quitely a year ago (something Dan brings up whenever he can and will glefully tell you if asked) but this time fanboy bloghead would’ve actually helped!! Mother f…

Avengers: Thor Versus Iron Man and Cap takes a hit (*Spoiler Alert)

It seems almost like Marvel are nervous. Gotta wonder whether the lacklustre coverage of John Carpenter (seen it now – it’s not that great) has the all watching Disney ordering teasers galore. So here are two – both a little bit of a shame as they’d be great just to watch as part of a film but hey – I’m an adult – I can take it. If however, you don’t want to see details of the upcoming Avengers movie look away before you watch the video directly above this warning. D’oh.

Here’s a worrying spoiler. Captain America takes a hit to the stomach from a dead thing’s laser. Can’t help but feel that might go nasty.

Thor Deleted Scenes that would have improved the film

Thor was a great movie – well deserving of it’s position as a forerunner to the Avengers movie out later this month. But, most likely for the sake of pacing a number of scenes were removed – a little more of Loki and Thor, a little more of the warriors three, a little more Frigga (Rene Russo) arguing with Anthony Hopkins’ Odin and a little more drinking with Stellan Skarsgård. With a cast like the one assembled for Thor – it’s genuinely pleasing to watch dialogue heavy scenes like these. A nice development in a Superhero movie and one that might just elongate their cultural domination.

Avengers Week: Agent Coulson (’nuff said!)

A perhaps unsurprising character that was both invented as a dramatic link between the Avengers canon of films and has found popularity as a result of them is Agent Coulson – played by Clark Gregg – earning himself a series of comedy shorts and his own Avengers Posters. Gregg has played Coulson beautifully, a light touch among gods and super soldiers. Deliberately every-man in nature his capacity is limited to that of a well trained us. We love him and he is perhaps the most well loved of all the Avengers characters. Representing far better the people the Avengers defend, Coulson represents brilliantly the Marvel Universe invented by Stan Lee in 1961 more than 50 years ago.

Avengers: Black Widow kicks Ass as Whedon goes back to Buffy!

On the 11th April 2012 Marvel Entertainment release the Avengers in selected US cinemas. As such – we can expect a dearth of Avengers material released on the web – most likely replaced with reviews and fan material. Released a couple of days ago Scarlet Johansen is the first Avenger to be showcased in her own solo promo – if you don’t count Iron Man I and II, Agent Coulson’s one-shots and the first parts of the Thor and Captain America franchises. Where’s the Hawkeye and Maria Hill promo?

Regardless; Black Widow proves that ladies can kick some ass. In the hands of director Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Serenity (Firefly) which both centre on mistresses of the Kung Pow this was always likely!!