One of the best super hero films of 2013, Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World hits Blu-ray/DVD this week and includes a brand new 15 minute Marvel One-Shot with Ben Kinsgley reprising his role as The Mandarin.
It is nice watching a Superhero franchise where I don’t know much about the hero. Yeah I’m an old school Marvel Fan Girl – can’t stand the Marvel Now stuff, but I never got into Thor. The only thing I know about this character is the mythology they have built in the films. I thought the first Thor was the surprisingly good and the best film out of the first Phase 1 series of movies.
I watched 20 minutes of Thor: The Dark World at a couple of events last year and thought that the early footage looked ok, but lacked something. Now that I’ve seen the entire finished film I know what it is – polish. When you see early footage, lack of polish and finished CGI is acceptable but in a finished product? Not really.
Granted the theater the screening was held in always has some sort of issues, but can I really blame the theater for the really terrible audio mix that at times I could barely hear and the amateurish, clippy 3D and CGI work? The last Thor had lousy 3D as well. Even with all of these technical issues, I walked away thinking I really loved this movie and that, somehow, on Blu-ray it’ll be better.
As someone who obsesses over having the “perfect” big screen experience, I was surprisingly able to ignore the sloppy aesthetics because I just loved the world of Thor that Marvel has built and that is because of the superb cast. You can’t deny the chemistry between the wonderfully evil and sarcastic Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his brother Thor (Chris Hemsworth) or Thor’s relationship with the all too human Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Jane’s reaction to being on Asgard was fun, she had just the right amount of awe and seeing her interact with Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and Thor’s mother Frigga (Rene Russo) was good stuff. I love Sif (Jaimie Alexander), can we please have a Sif movie? Jaimie was fantastic on Smallville, she can pull off her own feature.
It is the quiet moments where the movie shines. This cast meshes so well together, even the inclusion of a pointless new Intern and Jane’s friend Darcy (Kat Dennings) gave the sometimes too serious film needed levity. I loved Darcy’s funny pronunciation of Thor’s hammer Mjölnir when it appears out of thin air. Hiddleston is great as always as Loki, but he’s dangerously close to becoming overused, while it would be criminal for him not to be in the 3rd installment, I would like to see them take a break from Loki.
I’m not even going to tell you about the convoluted because frankly, I was thoroughly confused. It had something to do with Dark Elves (who many thought were dead) wanting to use some sort of dark mist that attached itself to Jane to destroy the world when a 5,000 year old, convergence/alignment of the Universe happens. I won’t ask where the heck were the Avengers when another Alien came to earth ready to rumble, as a friend said, “Iron Man was off fighting the Mandarin, who knows what everyone else was doing.”
Director Alan Taylor (mostly known for being a TV Director, granted that TV included several episodes of the cinema like Game of Thrones) does a great job with pacing, but the action sequences aren’t as spectacular or innovative as a film with this kind of budget should have, and the cinematography is just god awful in spots.
Thanks to a strong script (I know it’s odd that I say the script is strong when the plot is confusing as heck) and cast Thor: The Dark World works surprisingly well despite the annoying technical issues by a Director who apparently wasn’t ready for this kind of responsibility.
While the picture is clean and crisp, no Blu-ray transfer is going to make sloppy, dark and blurry cinematography look good but it is at least more tolerable than it was in the theater. The audio mix on this Blu-ray is miles better but there are still issues with unevenness on the mix but no noticeable dropouts on the front center channels.
The highlight is the 15-minute Marvel One-Shot All Hail The King. After the events of Marvel’s Iron Man 3, Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley) is an infamous icon. He’s also locked up in a high-security prison. Luckily, his newfound profile has brought him celebrity and protection on the inside – and the actor has gladly agreed to an in-depth profile with a documentary filmmaker. This short is funny, action packed and contains a twist at the end that may make a hater like me reevaluate my opinion on IM3 and could possibly set up an Iron Man 4 movie. Only problem is, all of this should have been in the Iron Man film.
There is a solid 30-minute featurette called A Brother’s Journey: Thor & Loki that does a nice job of examining the relationship between battling brothers Thor & Loki other than that the Blu-ray feels a bit light on features. There are a couple of deleted scenes and a full length audio commentary featuring Director Alan Taylor, Producer Kevin Feige, Actor Tom Hiddleston and Cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau.
I can’t really comment on the packaging because Disney only sent the main Blu-ray disc. But I kind of hate the half baked, unfinished painted look on the background motion graphics. The brushstrokes are nice enough, but look weirdly cheaply done.
This Blu-ray release feels a lot like the film – Solid, but incomplete, like it could have been so much more than what the it ended up being. The parts are better than the whole.
- Movie – B
- Audio/Video – C
- Extras – B
- Packaging – N/A
Final Overall Grade – B-