Movie Review: Thor: The Dark World

downloadThor: The Dark World (2013)

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Christopher Ecclestein, Anthony Hopkins, and Kat Dennings

Directed by: Alan Taylor

SPOILERS

Thor returns to protect Earth, Asgard, and the rest of the nine realms in Thor: The Dark World. Thor’s second solo adventure is a solid entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that’s a lot of fun despite it’s few flaws. While it takes a while for the plot to get going, once everything is set and the pieces begin to fall into place the plot really kicks in.  Everything you loved about the original Thor is still here: Chris Hemsworth smacking stuff with Mjolnir, Kat Dennings’ quips, incredible sweeping shots of Asgard, and Tom Hiddleston glowering as Loki.

Following (again) on the attack on New York in The Avengers, Dark World finds Thor (Chris Hemsworth) bringing his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) back to Asgard to pay for his crime of attacking Earth. Still hung up over Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Thor has been putting in hours restoring peace to the nine realms. Things have been going well for the God of Thunder until the dark Elf Malekith (Christopher Ecclestein) is awakened from his slumber. Someone has reactivated the Aether, the mystical MacGuffin that drives the plot of the movie, and he’s determined to get it back. That someone is Jane, who now conveniently contains the Aether inside of her.  Determined to wipe out all life in the nine realms in time for the Convergence, where portals to the nine realms will appear at random, Malekith begins his attack on Asgard, where Jane has been transported.

What really surprised me about this entry in the Marvel Studios universe is how Marvel geeky it is. Fans of Thor and Marvel Comics won’t bat an eye at the mentions of the nine realms, Aether, Asgard having laser gun turret security systems, or Loki’s constant manipulations. This is certainly a bigger scope than the previous Thor film, and it asks a lot for the audience to buy in to. It’ll be interesting to see how people who aren’t familiar with the Thor books react to it.

While there is a lot of ambition in the plot, the end result mainly focuses only on Asgard. This was fine with me, as I wanted more Asgardian stuff after the first film, but aside from the bland home world of Malekith and a quick jaunt to Vanaheim, the only other location we see is Earth.  Hopefully when Thor next strikes we’ll see more of the other realms.

The character of Malekith stands out as the film’s only real weak link. Unlike Loki, there’s no real clear motivation for Thor-The-Dark-World-Malekiththe Dark Elf King aside from destroying everything. We learn pretty early on that he was the cause of a massive war with Thor’s grandfather and was defeated, and Asgard forces hid the Aether from him. But aside from this opening, there’s no other background into his character. He simply exists to glower and give Thor someone to fight.  Malekith’s weakness as a villain stems largely from the fact that Loki is a hard act to follow in the villain department. After two films as the villain, Loki is  the biggest threat the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had (so far), so when you introduce a new villain for Thor to fight, he needs to be more memorable and complex then just “I’m going to kill everything”. That’s all fine and good, but Loki’s strength as a villain stems from his complex relationship with Thor and Odin.  My hope is that next time Marvel takes a look at Jason Aaron’s recent “God Butcher” story arc from Thor: God of Thunder for a worthy cinematic villain.

As you’re all well aware, Tom Hiddleston reprises his role as fan-favorite villain Loki, and his scenes are where the movie works best. At this point, Hiddleston can play the role in his sleep, but he continues to electrify the screen whenever he shows up.   Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, and Idris Elba are also great as Thor, Jane Foster, and Heimdall.  Hemsworth has a lot of fun playing the God of Thunder, and it shows in many of the films lighter moments. The only actor that didn’t really do much for me was Anthony Hopkins as Odin. After being one of my favorite things about the first Thor movie, this time he seemed like he was just getting by until it was time for his lunch break.

Thor-2_2709663bFirst time feature director Alan Taylor steps out of the world of Game of Thrones and really amps up the action from the previous film.  There are many battle sequences with Asgardian forces and Malekith’s Elves, and Taylor shows that he has a strong sense of pacing and spectacle with the action sequences. Taylor’s experience with TV definitely shows in the pacing of the film though, as there are a lot of moments that could’ve been given more screen time than they get.  Events occur almost too fast, with many big moments in the film, while still important, don’t have room to breathe in the film.

Thor: The Dark World isn’t better than The Avengers, but it’s a sign that Marvel has yet to completely screw up their cinematic universe.  There’s no major villain change up that will divide fans like Iron Man 3, and there’s an awesome cameo that was a blast to see on screen. In the end, is Thor: The Dark World going to reinvent the superhero genre like The Dark Knight or Avengers? No. Is it a great time at the movies? Yes. The Dark Word is packed with solid action set pieces, well placed humor, and pretty effective emotional moments that add up to a satisfying adventure to hold you over until Captain America: the Winter Solider hits in April.

VerdictB

ALSO:

At this point, I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but since a good two thirds of the audience left right when the credits started, I’ll say it:

THERE IS A MID-CREDIT* AND AFTER CREDIT SCENE

*Expect to have to explain the mid-credit scene to some people in the audience. Hardcore Marvel fan boys like myself will freak out over it, while many will be left scratching their heads.  Regardless, if Marvel Studios is planning what I think they’re planning, my head may explode around the time of Avengers 3.

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Posted on November 10, 2013, in Movie Reviews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Excellent review, but (unarguably) needs more Loki.

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