3 Insulting Things About Thor: The Dark World
Spoiler warning: To understand this review, you do need to have seen the film. To say this is a spoiler warning implies there is a story to be spoilt. There isn’t.
Film and I have an understanding: I relish in childish wonder at the flashy lights, gorgeous people, and Hans Zimmer soundtracks and it doesn’t receive any form of critical response. I don’t stare wide-eyed at plot holes but at black holes created through dodgy science; it gives me Megan Fox and I don’t care that characters have all the depth of saucers.
But, sometimes – sometimes – film pushes harder in its stupidity than usual. Thor: The Dark World is the latest offender and I wish it was a small creature so I could torture it as it did me.
1. Bad guy doing baddy things (i.e. the “plot”)
When, oh when, will Marvel give us a villain who is not doing bad things just, you know, for badness’ sake? The well-worn banality of villainy Hollywood keeps regurgitating… because plot… is here in full, boring force with an evil man-person-thing doing evil things for evil reasons.
Quite literally, he wishes to cover the universe in darkness / destroy it. Could you be any more yawn-inducing in your threat to existence than wishing just to “Control A – delete - empty recycle bin” it?
Gee, we’ve never seen that plot before! Thanks, “writers”.
When did we accept this as villainy? Why?
No explanation is actually provided for why he – this evil dude called Kevin or something - wishes to destroy everything; as if there could ever be a reason that makes us sympathise with his cause.
I’m not saying every villain needs to be sympathetic, but he needs to be understandable. The continual use of doing such evil so far above us becomes meaningless and causes little sense of dread; it reminds us that these beings (evil gods, terrorists, etc.) are nothing like us, they’re just there to be evil and must be stopped (America, f--- yeah!).
There’s nothing interesting to question, there’s no dynamic warranting further thought as to whether we might have done a wrong – whether the people we’re rooting for are the bad guys.
It doesn’t need to be this deep but it does need to be this interesting. We expect writers, professional creative writers, to engage us in ways that make us enjoy what-ifs, not tolerate so-whats.
Consider Loki. His performance in this film is the most entertaining and his reasons for acting – in the first and this film - are the fruit of a character we’ve come to understand; we can say he’s being a spoilt brat, a petulant whiny child, but at least we can all say we understand betrayal, irritation, being constantly thwarted. We don’t need to agree – hell, we don’t even have to sympathise – but we understand where his motivations stem from.
“Evil cos evil because evil via evil because plot” is the creative equivalent of considering an architect’s plan the same as a furnished home.
Second, the “ancient powerful artefact of ultimate destruction” is seen in full force when it’s… gentle nudging Thor in London. Yes, this great weapon possesses this supposedly terrifying bad guy (Kelvin?), who then faces Thor and, effectively, tickles him. This is the same weapon that could cover the universe in darkness, etc. etc, and it’s now revealed to be Norse massage equipment, with a literal happy ending.
Third, this ancient artefact possesses Pretty White Girl Who Totally Has More Depth Than Caring About Her Man #1 played by Natalie Portman. We see her eyes change, she has a connection with it that sees the weapon protect her from dangerous elements like rain and friendly policemen. I kid you not.
All of it hints - only hints - at this artefact’s great destructive power but it does nothing except play with Thor’s muscles and prevent her make-up from running.
There’s supposed to be a threat to Pretty White Girl Who Totally Has More Depth Than Caring About Her Man #1’s life due to being possessed, but she’s about as concerned as desk drawer would be with dodgy porn in it. There’s no sense of dread. Oh, she faints. Once or twice.
Here were the perfect elements for a villain Marvel/Hollywood seem to loathe: a woman, who is renowned for being smart (she’s a scientist that does a science thing and has three degrees, but she can’t change her ringtone on her phone… moving on), who is made evil through no will of her own, bent on destroying since she’s giving into a powerful virus. Here, Thor, with the weight of worlds and his duty to protect trillions of people, would have to face ending the love of the mortal woman he loves. Here, it means making the sacrifice Odin keeps telling him he’d have to make: his millennia-long life-span against her petty mortal one. His love for her – we’re told they’re in love but there’s as much chemistry as there is literal science – would be measured against his duty.
Of course, Marvel did do this in X-Men 3, with the Dark Phoenix and Wolverine (the most useless X-Men/X-Man perhaps). However, the element missing is Thor’s great duty to protect due to his immortality… actually, that would make him not that much different to Wolverine who also doesn’t really age and tries to protect others.
However, the writers could’ve created a conflict between Evil Natalie Portman and Loki, who maybe wants the power, etc. etc.
Point being, this is more interesting than anything that occurred in the film, the elements were all there, and the weapon itself is never shown beyond massage equipment and umbrella.
I don’t hate often but I truly, deeply, hate Kat Denning’s Darcy more than anyone I’ve seen (this year). She has the now boring snappy and snarky funny person trope that Whedon created and has been milking in his various guises and enterprises (see Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) for eons. Eons, I say. She plays Pretty White Girl Who Totally Has More Depth Than Caring About Man #2 or, her shorter name, Exposition Lady.
When a character’s absence would do nothing to the plot or story, you clearly have a problem. Prime example: Darcy commands her “intern” to hammer in some poles around London and they only have a set amount of time before the science can fight back against the evil. The intern does so. Instead of splitting up to hammer in poles herself, Darcy has the important job of holding a walkie-talkie to shout “done” or give a thumb’s up to Dr Forgettable Pretty Lady #1 who is… also holding a thing to push.
Marvel women, ladies and gentlemen: Incapable of hammering in science poles to save time because the world’s ending but doubly capable of pushing buttons dramatically.
Darcy was annoying in her attempts at humour. Humour is welcome – as Whedon showed in Avengers – but when that’s all she does all the goddamn time and it’s never funny then it’s just pretty woman noise. See that Marvel? You “made me” reduce a woman to being nothing but noise. Because that’s how you wrote her.
As indicated, Natalie Portman’s entire character is anchored by seeing Thor. Her science is about nothing but finding him. I could not care less for romance even in real life, even from close friends; and here, the film did nothing to establish why we should care about them. There were no stakes. We didn’t care about their stupid happiness. Instead of showing how the quest creates danger by, say, having the evil artefact poison her toward evil and maybe death, it’s just kind of… there. And then bashed away with a hammer.
Do I need to mention the stupidity of covering your lover’s body with your own “against” a falling object the size of a building? Do I? No. I don’t. Because that’s stupid and you’re a goddamn scientist with three degrees (who can’t operate the settings function on her phone). Did Aaron Sorkin write these women?
3. Anthony Hopkins
Sir Anthony Hopkin’s acting is well-established as being amazing, brilliant. His voice is enough to chill the blood. Yet, his Odin could not be more bland than the relationships that supposedly exist in this film. He holds no command. He offers little irrationality or fiery resolve in wanting revenge for his wife’s death – of course someone dies in this film, boo-hoo, and it’s the only decent woman character.
It’s unfortunate, but Hopkins would be a better villain than father figure. He’s never been able to do that right. Do I need to remind you about Wolfman?
I love you, Dr Lecter, but I’ll be damned if I want your fatherly respect. Again, there was little chemistry or sense of relationship between Thor and Dr Odin, here.
This film is awful. The acting is without depth or care, the plot as flat as characters. Visually-stunning, flashy, with some brilliant action scenes. But this deserves to be seen so that it can get the hate it deserves.
Image Credit: WikiCommons (source)
Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling has an important favor to ask of the American people.
- Michael Dowling is president and CEO of Northwell Health, the largest health care system in New York state. In this PSA, speaking as someone whose company has seen more COVID-19 patients than any other in the country, Dowling implores Americans to wear masks—not only for their own health, but for the health of those around them.
- The CDC reports that there have been close to 7.9 million cases of coronavirus reported in the United States since January. Around 216,000 people have died from the virus so far with hundreds more added to the tally every day. Several labs around the world are working on solutions, but there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19.
- The most basic thing that everyone can do to help slow the spread is to practice social distancing, wash your hands, and to wear a mask. The CDC recommends that everyone ages two and up wear a mask that is two or more layers of material and that covers the nose, mouth, and chin. Gaiters and face shields have been shown to be less effective at blocking droplets. Homemade face coverings are acceptable, but wearers should make sure they are constructed out of the proper materials and that they are washed between uses. Wearing a mask is the most important thing you can do to save lives in your community.
Two massive clouds of dust in orbit around the Earth have been discussed for years and finally proven to exist.
- Hungarian astronomers have proven the existence of two "pseudo-satellites" in orbit around the earth.
- These dust clouds were first discovered in the sixties, but are so difficult to spot that scientists have debated their existence since then.
- The findings may be used to decide where to put satellites in the future and will have to be considered when interplanetary space missions are undertaken.
What are they?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDA0NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTM1ODc0Mn0.NH33LuauIo__sUBi4tvhwxDcsvhflDFD-Nhx9FjlSNk/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=148%2C0%2C149%2C0&height=700" id="cec96" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="acb78abe2ab46a17e419ad30906751d6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Artist's impression of the Kordylewski cloud in the night sky (with its brightness greatly enhanced) at the time of the observations.
G. Horváth<p>The<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kordylewski_cloud" target="_blank"> Kordylewski clouds</a> are two dust clouds first observed by Polish astronomer Kazimierz Kordylewski in 1961. They are situated at two of the <a href="https://www.space.com/30302-lagrange-points.html" target="_blank">Lagrange points</a> in Earth's orbit. These points are locations where the gravity of two objects, such as the Earth and the Moon or a planet and the Sun, equals the centripetal required to orbit the objects while staying in the same relative position. There are five of these spots between the Earth and Moon. The clouds rest at what are called points four and five, forming a triangle with the clouds and the Earth at the three corners.</p><p>The clouds are enormous, taking up the same space in the night sky as twenty lunar discs; covering an area of 45,000 miles. They are roughly 250,000 miles away, about the same distance from us as the Moon. They are entirely comprised of specks of dust which reflect the light of the sun so faintly most astronomers that looked for them were unable to see them at all. </p><p>The clouds themselves are probably ancient, but the model that the scientists created to learn about them suggests that the individual dust particles that comprise them can be blown away by solar wind and replaced by the dust from other cosmic sources like comet tails. This means that the clouds hardly move but are <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2018/11/news-earth-moon-dust-clouds-satellites-planets-space/" target="_blank">eternally changing</a>. </p>
How did they discover this?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDAzNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1Nzc4MjQ4MX0.7uU9OqmQcWw5Ll1UXAav0PCu4nTg-GdJdAWADHanC7c/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C180%2C0%2C181&height=700" id="952fb" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a778280a20f1c54cd2c14c8313224be2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
"In this picture the central region of the Kordylewski dust cloud is visible (bright red pixels). The straight tilted lines are traces of satellites."
J. Slíz-Balogh<p>In their study published in the <a href="https://academic.oup.com/mnras" target="_blank">Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society</a>, Hungarian astronomers Judit Slíz-Balogh, András Barta, and Gábor Horváth described how they were able to find the dust clouds using polarized lenses.</p><p>Since the clouds were expected to polarize the light that bounces off of them, by configuring the telescopes to look for this kind of light the clouds were much easier to spot. What the scientists observed, polarized light in patterns that extended outside the view of the telescope lens, was in line with the predictions of their mathematical model and ruled out other possible sources. </p>
Why are we just learning this now?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDAzOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MjUyNDMyMH0.Zl8GmQ_rJHiL4b7hN0r_YBmgb6_ZqIRvqOVuko2ubpw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C141%2C0%2C185&height=700" id="87afe" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="dd4c0b5088e601d7279cc5eb226f8b7b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
"Mosaic pattern of the angle of polarization around the L5 point (white dot) of the Earth-Moon system. The five rectangular windows correspond to the imaging telescope with which the patterns of the Kordylewski cloud were measured."
J. Slíz-Balogh<p>The objects, being dust clouds, are very faint and hard to see. While Kordylewski observed them in 1961, other astronomers have looked there and given mixed reports over the following decades. This discouraged many astronomers from joining the search, as study co-author Judit Slíz-Balogh <a href="https://ras.ac.uk/news-and-press/research-highlights/earths-dust-cloud-satellites-confirmed" target="_blank">explained</a>, <em>"The Kordylewski clouds are two of the toughest objects to find, and though they are as close to Earth as the Moon are largely overlooked by researchers in astronomy. It is intriguing to confirm that our planet has dusty pseudo-satellites in orbit alongside our lunar neighbor."</em></p>
Will this have any impact on space travel?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c3d797fff5430c64afcb5a49bddc3616"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ou8N3v9SFPE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Lagrange points have been put forward as excellent locations for a space station or satellites like the <a href="https://jwst.nasa.gov/about.html" target="_blank">James Webb Telescope</a> to be put into orbit, as they would require little fuel to stay in place. Knowing about a massive dust cloud that could damage sensitive equipment already being there could save money and lives in the future. While we only know about the clouds at Lagrange points four and five right now, the study's authors suggest there could be more at the other points.</p><p>While the discovery of a couple of dust clouds might not seem all that impressive, it is the result of a half-century of astronomical and mathematical work and reminds us that wonders are still hidden in our cosmic backyard. While you might never need to worry about these clouds again, there is nothing wrong with looking at the sky with wonder at the strange and fantastic things we can discover. </p>
New cancer-scanning technology reveals a previously unknown detail of human anatomy.
- Scientists using new scanning technology and hunting for prostate tumors get a surprise.
- Behind the nasopharynx is a set of salivary glands that no one knew about.
- Finding the glands may allow for more complication-free radiation therapies.
PSMA PET/CT technology<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="676e611b970c9b516cace0870447b325"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RHAyoQF09X4?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>PSMA PET/CT is a new combination of <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/pet-scan/about/pac-20385078" target="_blank">PET scans</a> and <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/ct-scan/about/pac-20393675" target="_blank">CT scans</a> that is believed to offer a more reliable means of locating prostate cancer metastasis. A <a href="https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/cancer-currents-blog/2020/prostate-cancer-psma-pet-ct-metastasis" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">study</a> published last spring suggests it may be the most accurate way to diagnose prostate cancer metastasis than any method previously available.</p><p>Prior to PSMA PET/CT, the primary way to look for metastatic prostate cancer was to image the body using x-ray-based CT scans and to perform bone scans, since bone is where prostate cancer often spreads. CT scans, however, often miss small tumors, and bone scans can generate false positives as a result of other damage or abnormalities that have nothing to do with prostate cancer.</p><p>PSMA PET/CT scans track the travels of an intravenously administered radioactive glucose tracer throughout the body. For hunting down prostate cancer, this tracer contains a molecule that binds to the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1472940/" target="_blank">PSMA</a> protein that's present in large amounts in prostate tumors. The molecule is linked to a radioisotope, <a href="https://netrf.org/2018/11/13/gallium-68-scan-for-neuroendocrine-tumors/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">gallium-68</a> (Ga-68).</p><p>In last spring's research, PSAM PET/CT was shown to be 27 percent more accurate than previous methods at finding metastases (92 percent accuracy as opposed to 65 percent). In addition, it was found to be much less likely to produce false positives, and it was particularly good at detecting tumors far removed from the prostate.</p>
A good kind of avoidance behavior<p>"Radiation therapy can damage the salivary glands," says Vogel, "which may lead to complications. Patients may have trouble eating, swallowing, or speaking, which can be a real burden."</p><p>The researchers looked back through the cases of 723 patients who had undergone radiation treatment, interested in seeing if inadvertent radiation of the tubarial glands was associated with the complications experienced by the patients. It turned out that this <em>was</em> the case: In cases where more radiation had been delivered to this area, patients did indeed report more in the way of complications of the type one would expect when salivary glands are radiated.</p><p>Now that we know the tubarial salivary glands exist, therapists can stay out of their way. Vogel says, "For most patients, it should technically be possible to avoid delivering radiation to this newly discovered location of the salivary gland system in the same way we try to spare known glands."</p><p>He's hopeful that that things may be about to get at least a bit better for cancer patients: "Our next step is to find out how we can best spare these new glands and in which patients. If we can do this, patients may experience less side effects which will benefit their overall quality of life after treatment."</p>
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