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Mick LaSalle’s “Nordic Downhill” Yearns for a Human Scale Story

In response to Mick LaSalle’s 678‑word review of Thor: The Dark World on San Francisco Chronicle

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Mick LaSalle’s “Nordic Downhill: Ponderous ‘Dark World’ Lacks the Charm of 1st ‘Thor’” is a world weary review that knows it shouldn’t have expected the sequel to be as good as the first but couldn’t help hoping.

Nordic Downhill was rooting for the movie to succeed. LaSalle’s disappointment positively drips from lines like “as the movie wears on…the whole atmosphere [of the film] improves—at least enough to soften the disappointment.”

Nordic Downhill posits the new movie as a compelling human-scale story buried beneath mountains of fantasy battles, CGI effects, and a director taking a shot at making his first blockbuster movie.

There’s nothing particularly new in these criticisms, but there is in how LaSalle extends them into a discussion of the music score, arguably one of the most overlooked aspects of any movie. Film scores are like third base coaches in baseball: you only notice them when they screw up.

Readers will be able to feel the yearning for what this movie could have been in Nordic Downhill, the smaller, character-based story hidden beneath the bombast. Part of the entertainment of reading this review is imagining the movie that LaSalle does: one based more on earth, focused more on the comedy of a Norse god navigating 21st century London, and focused more on Thor’s erstwhile nemesis and uneasy ally, Loki, whom LaSalle writes “might be the only interesting person in the movie.”   

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