Thor: The Dark World just doesn't compare to the 2011 original, in spite of its few redeeming qualities. That's the consensus among this paper's film critics on this week's Voice Film Club podcast, available now.
"[The original Thor movie] was so unbelievably nerdy that it made the Lord of the Rings movies look like Fast and Furious sequels," says the Village Voice's Alan Scherstuhl. That's not the case with The Dark World, out on Friday.
Kat Dennings (2 Broke Girls) gives a memorable performance in The Dark World, says L.A. Weekly's Amy Nicholson, wishing that her character and Chris Hemsworth's Thor would party down together, instead of the lovey-dovey relationship we get between him and Natalie Portman's Jane Foster.
Thor's personality is also a muted in the sequel when compared to the first film, Nicholson adds.
"There's just no sense of humor to [The Dark World] and there's also like five battles within the first hour," the Village Voice's Stephanie Zacharek observes. "We have survived thousands of years of story-telling, where you build up to a big battle -- and now we have to have five battles in the first hour because people think, 'we have to have this non-stop action or people will get bored.'"
"It was genuinely dull," Scherstuhl says.
A completely different film, Richard Curtis's About Time, opens this Friday. The film -- as the trailer spells out in its opening seconds, is about the men in a family who can travel back in time.
"It's being sold as a romantic comedy, but this movie really is for guys," Zacharek says. "'Fathers don't be afraid to love your son.' But in About Time, it's spelled out six different times in the same way."
Bill Nighy and Domhnall Gleeson both give standout performances, as does Rachel McAdams, in spite of her character's sad transition into a frumpy mom-like person throughout the film.
"She's made to look really dowdy," Zacharek laments. "She's become this sort of schleppy mom."
That doesn't stop Nicholson from crowning McAdams as queen of this generation's romantic comedy.
"This casting is perfect," she says. "[McAdams] can play the most beautiful woman you've ever seen in your high school. She's the perfect American ideal. She has so much charm I'm completely in love with her myself."
Scherstuhl recommends How I Live Now, based on the young adult novel about the apocalypse, a "very serious, somewhat grim yet full of life adaptation." The teens try to survive in a post-apocalyptic England. The movie gets at "R" rating for the amount of "fucks" uttered by its protagonist, played by the talented Saoirse Ronan.
Zacharek recommends the 30th anniversary Blu-Ray edition of The Right Stuff, the 1983 film about the Mercury 7, based on the Tom Wolfe book. "I really feel the need to put in a plug for [director] Philip Kaufman," Zacharek says. "I wish he could make movies today but it's just harder and harder for these guys who actually know what they're doing to get any kind of work."
Nicholson has an L.A.-centric recommendation: AFI festival, in which all of the screenings are free. "It's turned into a film festival that specializes in really strange foreign films," Nicholson says. "Also, every night has a huge gala for one of the big Oscar contenders." Disclosure: Nicholson is a judge on the New Auteurs jury this year.Listen to the Voice Film Club podcast.