Thor: The Dark World Review- Loki Takes the Spotlight

Spoilers ahead! Please do not read if you do not want to see spoilers for Thor 2.

Thor: The Dark World is not aimed to please critics, but plays directly into the hearts of fans. It’s funny, suspenseful, and a good movie if you try to understand the bad guy’s motive. It also gets about 200% better if you don’t try to understand the conflict and just go with it.

TDW picks up where The Avengers left off- Loki taken back to Asgard by Thor to await retribution for his crimes. Thor is running around the Nine Realms, trying to fix the mess his adopted brother caused when he tried

Theatrical poster for Thor: The Dark World. Photo taken from IMDB.com

Theatrical poster for Thor: The Dark World. Photo taken from IMDB.com

to destroy Earth again. And that’s where a lot of what you will understand about the plot ends. The writers seem to have focused on writing as many scenes as possible that would make a fangirl squeal in joy and horror- shirtless Thor, close-ups of Loki’s face, painful major character deaths, and sending Jane to Asgard so you can live vicariously through her character.

Chris Hemsworth as Thor is still a great casting choice physically, but unfortunately his character is still a bit dry and two-dimensional. He has a few humorous and emotional moments, and my whole theater enjoyed his obligatory shirtless scene, but a lot of his dialogue sounds a bit too stiff and forced. There were too many moments where I focused on the acting more than his character, but in the end his charismatic portrayal of Thor makes up for it. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), the astrophysicist who is fated to be Thor’s soulmate (a choice that makes for fantastic debates, because Jane is going to live to maybe 90 years old while Thor will live a few thousand years, so Marvel should consider following the comic books and giving Lady Sif a chance at more than a few longing glances if they keep making Thor movies), has been teleported miraculously away from Earth to another world, where a floaty-liquidy red weapon substance called the Aether latches on to her. The Aether, apparently, will restore a dreaded evil darkness to the world with the help of the Dark Elf Malekith. Think Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder, but with more death and destruction.

This stuff was introduced in the first thirty seconds with a quick back story that was supposed to explain everything. The aforementioned Malekith, played by the usually wonderful

Malekith the Accursed. Still from movie.

Malekith the Accursed. Still from movie.

Christopher Eccleston, just made it worse. He was such a generic evil character. His motive was simply that he didn’t like how things were alive in the universe, and the take-over-the-world plan is hard to understand. He isn’t interesting or creepy, and he just looks angry a lot. I am quite impressed by his intricate hair braiding skills, though. I can’t do a fishtail braid to save my life.

I kind of lost interest in what Thor was fighting.

But looking past that, this sequel actually manages to better than the original movie, and that’s not something I say often. It has more funny scenes, which keeps the pace of the movie up and also makes the angsty scenes more horrible. Darcy (Kat Dennings) and Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) provide a steady stream of comic relief. The fight scenes are more exciting, too. Almost every main character gets a cool moment to fight, not just Thor. Jane, Darcy, and Eric help Thor with science, Sif and the Warriors Three all get a scene, and Loki takes on a whole group of Dark Elves with just a dagger.

And it’s good Loki’s there, since he’s kind of the best part of the movie. The character is played by Tom Hiddleston, who is a fantastic actor and can show about 10 emotions at one time on his face. He both starts the main part of the movie and ends it, so Thor isn’t even the first main character on screen. He alternates being the character having the most fun on screen and the character in the most pain. His story is more interesting, too. As

Loki in prison cell. Promo photo from Marvel.

Loki in prison cell. Promo photo from Marvel.

an adopted son who was unloved by his father and theoretically cast out of the family, he has a lot more background for emotional scenes. Loki’s also complex in a way Thor isn’t- he puts up a cold, scheming, and mischievous front, but it falls away in the face of tragedy. Thor refuses to trust him after his alien attack on Earth, but still brings him on the trip to save Jane. The only explanation we get for this is that he’s Loki, he’s beloved by the audience, so he needed more screen time- and no one’s arguing.

His most important scene showed that his personality isn’t truly evil; he let himself be sucked into a black hole to save Jane with no prompting from Thor and then he saved Thor from being beat to death by running a monster through with a sword. A monster who shook it off and stabbed Loki with the same sword still in his body, at which point Loki activates a black-hole bomb and wipes the monster from existence while he gasps his last breath on the ground. Thor cradles him because he’s still family, demonstrating the amazing chemistry between the actors that Hemsworth and Natalie Portman still haven’t achieved. It was both a fantastic death and very sad, making me cry merely halfway through the movie as my friends looked at me like I was insane. They don’t have quite the same emotional dedication to Loki and Thor as I do.

Of course, Marvel can’t actually kill him off, so he miraculously survives in a plot twist at the end that still managed to surprise audiences and left you questioning what his true allegiances are. Yet Marvel has also said that Loki won’t be in a movie for a few years- certainly not Avengers 2. With any luck, we’ll hear that Loki: The Movie is in the works in a year or two.

Despite some major flaws, Thor: TDW is a must see if you are interested in superhero movies. I’ve gone to see it a second time, which I only do with movies I love. It offers action, adventure, angst, and romance in a legendary setting, with main characters that are easy to love. It has fairly epic serious scenes yet cracks jokes even during the darkest moments. New fans can keep up with the basis of the plot but its peppered with inside references and jokes to please returning fans. It’s satisfyingly, comfortably familiar and manages to shock you in spite of that.

Plus, the cliffhanger at the end is fantastic. I love leaving a theater with something to theorize about.

Thor: The Dark World was released in theaters Nov. 8. If you’re new to Marvel movies, don’t forget to stick around for a couple minutes to see a bonus scene that hints at the plot of Thor 3, and stay until the very end of the credits. It’ll be worth it.

Fat Shaming is Never Okay, Unless the Person is Governor Chris Christie: Hypocrites on Tumblr

As a resident of New Jersey, I have heard pretty much every bad thing under the sun about Governor Chris Christie. A lot of people don’t like him around here. It got even worse when I went on Tumblr around Election Day and had my dashboard flooded with posts from people in other states and countries offering their sympathies to us New Jersey residents if (and when) Christie won and offering to let us live on their bedroom floors to escape him. Okay, fine. Lots of people obviously really don’t like him. And if you want to put down his decisions for our state government or his opinions, then that’s your opinion. As long as you do your research and know what you’re talking about when you argue, I really don’t care.

Governor Chris Christie. Photo by Flickr user Bob Jagendorf.

Governor Chris Christie. Photo by Flickr user Bob Jagendorf.

The thing that gets on my nerves is when people make comments on his weight.

Should I be used to this by now? I mean, I live in an age and society where I’m surrounded by magazines announcing how horrific Kim Kardashian’s baby weight gain is every time I make a Ben and Jerry’s run to A&P. But I’m not used to it. I still get angry whenever I hear about fat shaming.

Someone’s weight or looks has nothing to do with their intelligence and leadership skills. Whether you like Christie or not, your opinion should be based on the political choices he made while in office. But so often, that’s not the case. And the people committing this fat shaming are often hypocritical.

I went on the Chris Christie Tumblr tag to do a little research. Many of the posts I saw commented negatively on his weight. I contacted four of these posters.

One of these people was cultofpunk, a blog run by 21 year old woman from New York. On Nov. 5 after Christie was re-elected, she made this post: “The fata** is governor again….oh great .…thank god i live in new york lol[.]”

I messaged her and asked her what her opinion on fat shaming was, and if she agreed with it or thought it was ever right. The definition of fat shaming is discrimination or stereotyping based on one’s weight, especially very large people.

Part of her three paragraph response was, as follows: “Fat shaming is never ok in my opinion. It’s all the media and marketing’s fault for making everyone think that you’re only beautiful if you are skinny. I know quite a few people who are friends of mine that don’t have the so called “model type” body but they are the most beautiful people I know… but yes we live in 2013 where that should not even be an issue. i mean we’re still dealing with other issues like gay rights, and sexism, and even racism… short, tall, thin, heavy it really does not matter to me. it should not matter to anyone. it’s your body..do what you want to do with it. no one should be able to tell you otherwise.”

Note that her supposed view on fat shaming is directly opposite to what she wrote in her post. Apparently, fat shaming is okay and weight matters as long as you’re the governor.

I talked to three other Tumblr users like this. Each made a post that clearly insulted Christie’s weight, and each told me that they did not perpetrate fat shaming in any manner. According to wheremyghostsreside, “Regardless of what anyone finds preferable, there’s no real point to shame someone because they don’t fit their ideal mold.. It seems incredibly juvenile to judge someone on the basis of their weight.” Yet she also said that she loved this message submitted to her by another user that clearly put down Christie because of his weight.

There are two simple facts people need to know. You can’t tell how healthy someone is by their weight, or how much they eat and exercise. And it’s none of your business in the first place.

You wouldn’t want someone to comment negatively on what you look like, so don’t do it to other people. The only thing that comes out of making cheap jokes about Christie’s weight is that we can all see how biased and shallow you are.

Don’t encourage fat shaming. Let’s focus on what actually matters in politics.

Surreal, Striking, and Utterly Funny: Welcome To Night Vale

It’s night, and you turn on your radio to listen to the town news show. The host talks about the station’s new cat for a bit, gives a notice that the new dog park has finished construction, reminds you that the high school football team has a big game coming up, and- oh, dinosaurs invaded the last PTA meeting at the middle school.

Welcome to Night Vale podcast cover. Image taken from iTunes

Welcome to Night Vale podcast cover.
Image taken from iTunes

Welcome to Night Vale.

Welcome to Night Vale is a bi-monthly podcast produced by Commonplace Books. The show has only been around on iTunes for a little over a year, and this past July, Tumblr and Twitter found out about the podcast. Through word of mouth, the amount of new fans has spiraled out of control. It’s held the #1 podcast spot on iTunes, is always in the top 10, and it’s hard to believe it only became this popular a few months ago.

The podcast is set in the style of a small community radio news show based in the fictional desert town of Night Vale, complete with information on the weather, traffic, town events, and breaking news, but full of absurd paranormal horror. Listening to the somnolent voice of the host, Cecil, you might believe at first that the town is quite as normal as any other. Then you focus and realize he’s gleefully talking about floating cats and annual massacres as if the events are as common as bingo night in your own town.

Fanon interpretation of protagonist Cecil. Art by viria.tumblr.com

Fanon interpretation of protagonist Cecil. Art by viria.tumblr.com

Listening to the podcast is an experience. You know that everything is fake, and yet the way Cecil talks about horrific happenings in such a blasé fashion makes it feel far too real. Each episode is only about 25 minutes long, and manages to be funny, suspenseful, and deliciously creepy at the same time. Cecil has questionable morals and seems to blindly trust the town government, yet his humor and the way he confides in the audience make him a character you can’t help but trust, and he is sometimes incredibly philosophical. No one in the town seems to realize that they are abnormal, except for new-to-town scientist Carlos. Carlos voices the thoughts of the audience by commenting on how wrong everything is, but won’t leave because he is fascinated by the town. You’ll be constantly caught off guard, such as the first time the “weather” is announced (the weather is actually a random song you’ve probably never heard but is usually quite good). Night Vale even makes you a character in episode 13, “A Story About You,” where Cecil narrates your actions in the second person as a Night Vale resident.

Khoshekh, the immobile floating cat who resides in Night Vale Community Radio station. Art by mariokrt.tumblr.com

Khoshekh, the immobile floating cat who resides in Night Vale Community Radio station. Art by mariokrt.tumblr.com

But WTNV is not just a surreal comedic podcast. It directly addresses issues such as race and sexuality. A character named “The Apache Tracker” is slammed by Cecil as being racist. And Cecil himself plays a huge part as a queer protagonist. Weaved into the foundation of the plot is a love story between Cecil and the scientist Carlos, who is a person of color. Cecil moons over Carlos from the very first episode, and in more recent episodes the pair has become a canon relationship. The narrator of the show is in a gay, and possibly interracial, interspecies relationship, but the show barely mentions it, and focuses on the fact that they’re both just people. In fact, the relationship is one of the most normal things in the podcast. It’s incredibly refreshing for mainstream media.

I can hear you stopping me now, though- ‘what do you mean, interspecies? They aren’t both human?’ That’s where the fans come in. The only description of Cecil the show has ever given us is that he is “not short or tall, not fat or thin,” he wears a tie, and is indeed male. Such a vague description leaves his image up to fans’ interpretation, sparking very interesting fan art. Some of the time Cecil is a skinny blond nerdy guy with a sweater vest and glasses. Other people think he’s very inhuman, and give him moving tattoos all over his arms and neck, as well as giant tentacles on his back. Often the two portrayals are

WTNV tweet froom Oct. 30. Screenshot of @NightValeRadio.

WTNV tweet froom Oct. 30. Screenshot of @NightValeRadio.

combined. The one physical feature that most people seem to agree on is that he has a third eye- either real or a tattoo- on his forehead. Fans show their love for the podcast through fanart, fanfiction, and cosplay, and get “extra” content through the WTNV Twitter account. The tweets are as strange as the podcast, such as one from Oct. 15: “LOST: DOG. Has no visible form. Clear, cloudlike, humid. Brings

anguish to all it passes through. Reward if never found again.”

I could go on and on about how weird and fantastic I think Night Vale is. If you have a half-hour in your day to spare, start listening to the show and get swept up in the stories about floating cats, unmentionable dog parks, and glowing clouds that rain animals. Welcome to Night Vale is funny, clever, and will be unlike any podcast you have ever heard.

Welcome to Night Vale is free and can be downloaded from iTunes or listened to online here. New episodes are usually released on the 1st and 15th of every month. Remember, do not approach the dog park.

What makes YouTubers so popular?

Picture by Flickr user Jurgen Appelo. http://www.noop.nl/

Picture by Flickr user Jurgen Appelo. http://www.noop.nl/

Most of us watch the latest viral Youtube videos. But some people avidly follow certain video makers, eagerly awaiting their next upload.

Some people question what attraction fans have to certain Youtubers. Why would someone sit and watch and listen a stranger talk about any topic they feel like, or rush to a computer to see their next short film?

“I like them because they’re all unique in a way. Some do comedy, some sing, make art, it’s all really entertaining and it’s something to look forward to when I get home,” long-time Youtuber watcher Alyssa Matlosz, 16, explained. “Some of my favorites are dailygrace, Hannah Hart, Troye Sivan, Vlogbrothers, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Jack and Dean, Bananajamana, Emma Blackery… it’s hard to choose, I’m subscribed to 113 channels.”

Youtubers can make videos about anything. Some of the most popular creators are “vloggers”- video bloggers, people who opt for saying their thoughts or talking about their daily life to a camera rather than typing up a post. Often they upload comedy skits, reviews, or show a certain talent like singing to break up the vlogs. Others are mainly focused on artistic short films. A lot of the more popular Youtubers are younger, teenagers or in their twenties, which, makes them interesting and relatable to a younger audience. But even if they’re twice the age of a viewer, they still find ways to entertain.

“I like [Youtubers] because in ways I can relate to them, even though some of them are much older than me. They’re also really funny and always make me feel better when I’m having a bad day.They’re also very good at what they do whether it be short films or vlogs. I think they’re so popular because they can relate to so many people,” said 16-year-old Surbhi Chawla.

Some Youtubers try to even help people through their videos. Some speak out about the bullying and self-image issues they endured during high school, and give advice to viewers who are being bullied. British vlogger Dan Howell, known better by his username Danisnotonfire, often talks about situations in his past that were embarrassing or stressful and makes them humorous. Since viewers can often relate to these stories, he invites them to discuss and vent about their own experiences in the video comments, and sometimes make videos specifically dedicated to giving advice to viewers who ask for some. Though his video style is often sarcastic and self-deprecating, he refers to his channel as an “internet support group.” His eccentric and uncensored personality makes him beloved by his fanbase.

But why Youtube? What is it about Youtube that makes it so appealing as a website?

“I think YouTube as a platform has become so popular because the direct accessibility to the creator. As opposed to the massive productions behind TV shows, Youtube is generally one person and a camera. Viewers can connect with most of them on nearly every form of social media and I think that the online community aspect of YouTube is the really the best part. Plus there’s so much variety in what you can watch,” Matlosz said.

Mainstage at VidCon. Image taken by Flickr user believekevin.

Mainstage at VidCon. Image taken by Flickr user believekevin.

Since the video creators are such relatable people- not celebrities from TV or movies who can seem impossible to connect with other than admiring them from afar- they often welcome meeting fans. Youtuber gatherings such as VidCon, Playlist Live, and Summer in the City have been made so that fans can meet the creators and socialize with other fans.

“I got to meet most of [my favorite Youtubers] back in August at VidCon, but there were a lot of crowds so I only really got to hold a conversation with a few. I had like a 10 minute conversation with Dean Dobbs and it was really chill and if I were to meet any of my favorite Youtubers, I’d just like to have a normal conversation with them- get to know them without a screen in between, yaknow?” Matlosz mused.

Chawla hasn’t met any of the Youtubers she’s subscribed to yet, but she hopes to one day. I asked her what she would say to them if she could meet them right now.

“Thank you for making my life so wonderful and including me in this community.”

Why You Should Be Excited for “The Fault In Our Stars” Movie

Newly released movie logo for TFiOS. Photo taken from the official TFiOS Facebook page.

Newly released movie logo for TFiOS.
Photo taken from the official TFiOS Facebook page.

Since its release in January 2012, young adult novel The Fault in Our Stars has nearly one million copies in print, spent months on bestseller lists, was named the number one fiction book of 2012 by Time, and is now experiencing renewed hype as fans await updates on its film adaptation.

The release date of the book by popular author and vlogger John Green is months away, but if you haven’t been paying much attention to the movie, you should be. TFiOS is promising to be as fantastic as the book was.

1) The Casting

Green has fully approved the casting of Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort as main characters Hazel and Augustus, and if an author can see his own characters in an actor, the acting is bound to be good.

“[Shailene Woodley] auditioned for The Fault in Our Stars not because she needs the part but because she loves the book. Her depth of understanding were immediately obvious in the audition and for me there could be no one else to play Hazel,” Green posted on his Tumblr in May. “Ansel Elgort is also a huge fan of TFiOS (it is, in fact, his favorite book)… Most importantly, when he auditioned, he became Augustus. Watching him audition with Shailene, he was just Gus and she was just Hazel.”

2) Fans Can Follow The Production

We’re getting an active look at the making of the TFiOS movie through the eyes of Green, who is incredibly excited about it. This provides a unique interaction between the fans and the movie and is helping to build up the anticipation as we see snapshots and videos of the set and cast.

3) The Script

Right now, the script sounds like it’s going to do the novel justice. No one wants to see a movie that’s vastly different from the book. But our fears can be averted: “Almost every line of dialogue in the movie is from the book,” said Green in an interview with The Pittsburgh Gazette. “It’s very, very faithful.”

TFiOS producer Wyck Godfrey thinks highly of the script, too.

“Dare I say, [The Fault in Our Stars script] is as good if not better than the book. It will be the best movie of next year if we can get our butts in gear,” said Godfrey in a Page to Premier interview.

4) The Cameo

Green told The Indianapolis Star that he’s going to have a cameo in the movie. It’s a wonderful bonus. Fans go crazy for creators having cameos in their stories. Just look at Stan Lee and Marvel.

I’m counting down the days until the movie premier. Are you excited for TFiOS? Tell me why!

TFiOS will be released in the USA on June 6, 2013. Check out the official movie Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr pages.

My Relationship With Media Through Fandom

I have been a fangirl for as long as I can remember. When I was four, my always-curious self wandered into the living room while Mom was taking a nap and picked up the novel laying on the coffee table. It was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which my mom had bought for herself. My parents only figured out I had read the book when I started babbling about the Sorting Hat two weeks later. I fell in love with the series. I grew up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione as my idols and role models. Harry Potter also sparked my lifelong love of reading and writing stories. I go through books like water, and I always have one at arm’s reach.

Deathly Hallows was released when I was 11, and I finished it in a day. I soon found myself longing for the excitement and speculation that came with awaiting new content from an unfinished plot. I went to the bookstore and picked up the Percy Jackson series, and slowly added it and other literature fandoms to my repertoire… not that I knew what a fandom was yet.

The start of high school was when I finally took the leap off the cliff into devotion to fictional characters, and the Internet is to blame. I was introduced to Tumblr, a website filled with people who had interests similar to mine (so that’s a fandom!), who had many recommendations on what to get into next. I binge-watched TV shows like Doctor Who on Netflix, started counting down the days to Marvel movie release dates, read thousands of pages of an incredibly popular webcomic in a month, and combed newspapers for fandom news. The many forms of media- movies, books, television, the Internet, podcasts, and more- are now the central focus of my life.

Some of my favorite music is from the band Chameleon Circuit, a Doctor Who theme band, and Youtuber Charlieissocoollike.

My future is being shaped by my devotion. I am going to major in English and Creative Writing at a liberal arts college. I plan on becoming a fiction book editor and a novelist, so that I can possibly help bring future generations some of the joy that fictional worlds have brought me.

This blog will give you a glance into the mind of fans of all different types of fandom media. Who knows? Maybe you will discover a fandom to love, too.