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Even 'gods' struggle with good and evil

Posted By Drew Zahn On 11/11/2013 @ 12:12 am In Diversions,Faith,Front Page,Reviews | No Comments

Another Marvel movie is back, burying its competition at the box office with tales of superheroes, supervillainy and lots and lots of special effects.

This time it’s the sequel to “Thor,” the tale of a comic book hero who hails from the alien world of Asgard and who, when he ventured to Earth, displayed such powers the Vikings thought of him as a god.

The sequel, “The Dark World,” brings back some of what worked in the first Thor film: fantastical worlds, sleek costumes, medieval battles with spaceship flair and the masterfully mischievous and clever character Loki.

“The Dark World” also contains the typical comic book movie’s fodder for criticism: bizarre backstory and cheesy narration at the beginning, plot and logic holes big enough to drive a spaceship through, gratuitous shots of Thor bare-chested and, of course, the superhero hunk’s wooden acting.

Yet for fans of the franchise, “The Dark World” is a solidly entertaining popcorn flick, if only for the moments when actor Tom Hiddleston is on the screen, stealing the show in the role of Loki.

Fans of “Dr. Who” may also enjoy the 9th “Doctor,” Christopher Eccleston, playing the role of the “dark elf,” Malekith.

And for the most part, the film’s worldview is little more than bad guys seeking power and personal gain versus good guys willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of others.

In fact, at one point, Thor even summarizes his noble theme: “I’d rather be a good man than a great king.”

Yet, like the first Thor film, “The Dark World” goes to great pains to reveal these Norse “gods” are not divine, but all too human.

“We’re not gods,” Odin reminds his son, Thor. “We’re born, we live, we die like humans.”

This point is accented when Odin and his father debate the best approach to their war against the “dark elves.”

In a theme more reflective of today’s PC morality than Norse mythology, Thor questions his father’s plan to win the war by exterminating the presumably evil dark elves altogether.

“How then are you any different from them?” Thor challenges.

“I will win,” Odin answers, a reply the story more than implies is proof of moral bankruptcy.

In another scene more subtle, but perhaps more indicative of the flaws in modern ethics, Thor and Loki are arguing over Loki’s crimes, which prompted Thor to capture him. Loki was eventually confined to Asgard’s dungeon.

In the midst of the argument, Loki supposedly scores points by challenging Thor, “Who put me in that cell?”

The implied answer is that Thor did, and he should feel bad about that.

But there’s an inherent flaw in that reasoning: It wasn’t Thor’s actions, but Loki’s crimes that were to blame for Loki’s imprisonment. Thus, it wasn’t Thor, but Loki who put Loki in that cell.

Of course, today’s culture vehemently denies personal responsibility, and I doubt the filmmakers even thought twice about how logically inconsistent Loki’s argument is.

This subtle flaw aside, however, “Thor: The Dark World” is a decent night out with solid, values-affirming messages that will please casual fans of superhero movies but will just as likely make those who don’t care for the caped crusaders roll their eyes at the spoofiness of it all.

Content advisory:

“Thor: The Dark World,” is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence and some suggestive content. My usual source for specific content descriptions was unavailable at the time of this review, but the film had very little profanity; and the sexuality was limited to a few kisses, a shirtless hero and some implied bacchanalia. The religious or occult content is also minor, though there are a few indistinct runes, discussion of a dark universe before the present universe came into being and the discussion of “gods” mentioned in the review above.


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