Tag Archives: Thor

Movie Review: Thor: The Darkworld (2013) (4 Stars)

Chris Hemsworth reprises his role as Thor in Thor: The Dark World. Although I never reviewed it for this blog (the blog didn’t exist at the time), I saw the original Thor movie when it came out; it was okay, maybe three and half stars or so. I definitely think this second movie is an improvement over the first. It stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman (as Jane Foster), Anthony Hopkins (as Odin), and Tom Hiddleston (as Loki). Loki has become one of my favorite characters of the franchise. Tom Hiddleston does a remarkable job at bringing the character to life.

 

Anyway, the story begins with a sort-of prologue that sets the stage. Millenia ago, the Dark Elves existed in a reality before this universe. Then, this universe came into being (how, the movie doesn’t tell us). The Dark Elves, being creatures of darkness, hated the light and this universe it had produced, so their king, Malekith, decided to destroy it with the power of the aether, a dark force of boundless energy. Fortunately, for us, the Asgardians, led by Odin’s father, stopped it. They stole the aether from the Dark Elves and, after destroying the Dark Elf army, buried it where it would hopefully never be found. Fast forward to the modern day and planet Earth. Jane Foster, in the midst of studying a scientific anomaly, is pulled into the place where the Aether resides. Of course, it winds up being absorbed by her body. Now that it has been released, somewhere in far off space, Malekith is revived and he renews his plot to destroy the universe with the remnants of his Dark Elf army. All he needs for ultimate victory is the Aether, which is contained in Jane Foster’s body. Once again, Thor must rise to the challenge and confront unspeakable evil to save us all from doom.

 

Strengths: I’ve already mentioned that I love Loki. Tom Hiddleston does a wonderful job. Chris Hemsworth did a great job, too. As did Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman. The story was engaging and interesting. The special effects were superb. There were a number of well-timed humorous lines. Weaknesses: this is a minor one, but I feel inclined to point  it out: they kind of took a shot at America in one so-called “clever line” which I didn’t appreciate, although I’m sure some people will. The ending was a bit confusing. I’m still not sure how Thor defeated Malekith, or rather, why things he did worked the way they did. Finally, and this is the most important weakness, I really don’t like mixing the science fiction with the Norse mythology. I mean, really, a sci-fi adventure where Dark Elves are the bad guys? I hear elf, dark or otherwise, and I think Tolkien or D&D or whatever. Also, the science in the science fiction was bad and confusing. I still don’t know what the Nine Realms are. Are they nine planets? Nine solar systems? Nine Galaxies? You get a view of them at the end and they look like planets … so in the entire universe, there are only nine planets that are habitable? Add to that all the gravimetric and other scientific-sounding gobblydegook, and it gets an F in basic science. But it’s based on a Marvel Comic, so I suppose you really can’t hold that last bit against them much.

 

Anyway, I’ll give Thor: The Darkworld four stars out of five.

Race, Fantasy Literature, and Political Correctness (part I)

I will say from the get-go that I am not a fan of political correctness; it seems far too close to 1984’s Newspeak to me; at the very least, it is eerily similar. When I wrote my novel, Drasmyr (about 18 years ago, now), I pretty much paid little attention to variations in the human race and while writing, pretty much imagined all my characters as white (I’m white); however, I never went out of my way to specify human races in the novel, so, it would require little effort on the reader’s part to imagine the characters as black, or oriental, or what-have-you. The only thing that might jar would be the names. That said, as the author, I imagined the characters as white. So, let’s just assume they are.

 

Is that a weakness in the book? I’m sure some people think so. Personally, I think it is much ado about nothing.  To me, the way to overcome racism is to be colorblind. It simply doesn’t matter that all the characters are white. By the same token, a black author should have no problem writing a book featuring all black characters. Or I could write a book featuring all black characters if I wanted to; either way, taken by itself, a book featuring human characters who are all of the same race should be acceptable, particularly since it is not necessarily true that—especially in earlier times—the human races were mixed equally around the globe. I mean, really, the reason racism starts, is because a homogenous population encounters someone who looks “different.” That presupposes that the population was homogenous in the first place. So, why can’t you write a story that takes place in that homogenous population before they encountered peoples of different races? A story set in ancient Japan would probably be strange if it featured American Indians, unless it incorporated a very specific justification for such, would it not?

 

Still, the politically correct forces are what they are. But they do lead to some strange, if not downright silly, results. A friend of mine actually pointed the following out to me: in the movie “Thor,” from a couple years back, Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth) is accompanied by a small group of companions. All of them come from Asgard, the home of the Asgardian “gods”—you know, Odin, Loki … them guys. His companions are, conveniently, a mix of different races representative of the peoples of the various places of Earth. Yet, as my friend pointed out, Thor and Odin were NORSE gods. The gods of every culture on the planet have always, according to the legends, pretty much been of the same race as the people who worshipped them—just bigger, stronger, and immortal (or they were human-animal hybrids). That kind of poses a difficulty for the movie “Thor”: if Thor had black and Asian companions, why didn’t the Norsemen worship them and have corresponding legends about them? Maybe that’s a trivial flaw—and I’m sure you could get by it with some mental gymnastics—but it does show how adherence to politically correct tenets can cause difficulties with plots and stories that might be better served if such tenets were ignored. In the case of Thor, political correctness might have been better served if, again as my friend suggested, the major Earth characters in the movie were of mixed races—which they weren’t.

 

Anyway, this leads to my next point: as a writer, I don’t like being “told” I have to include such and such a character in my story or the story is flawed or I’m a racist. I prefer to write characters that fit the story, and sometimes, an all white, or all black cast might be called for. That said, Drasmyr was written with only white characters in mind only because I never made a conscious effort to do otherwise. It was not intended as a slight to blacks or Asians or anyone else. All that being said, I will tip my hat to political correctness to a certain extent and include a black snake priestess in the next book. But only because I think she is really cool … and that’s the real reason to include a character, any character, in your novel.