Thor: The Dark World.
While I enjoyed Thor when it came out a few years back, it definitely wasn’t my favorite. The environments felt too computer-generated (as did the frost giant villains) and Thor spent most of the movie without his powers, so you never really got to see the Thor that we all wanted to see. In Thor: The Dark World, did they manage to right these wrongs?
The gist is that Thor (Chris Hemsworth) must travel to Earth to protect his love interest Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). He takes her back to Asgard, where she meets his parents (Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo), his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and his buddies (Jamie Alexander, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Idris Elba). Turns out the root of this problem is an ancient dark elf named Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) who seeks to shroud the nine realms in darkness using an ancient artifact/weapon called the Aether.
Director Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, Mad Men) makes the leap into big budget movies and he succeeds on all fronts. My complaint that the original Thor was too computer-generated was immediately fixed as Taylor brought his Game of Thrones experience into play and created Asgard using real scenery and locations. The dark elves are all real people as well, so the fight scenes carry much more weight than the previous battles against the frost giants.
Chris Hemsworth has a lot more to do this time around and spends much less time being awkward and funny and his whole “fish out of water” routine. For most of the movie, he’s in his element so we get to see Thor exactly the way we wanted. Tom Hiddleston as Loki steals the show during most of his scenes, also giving a much more three-dimensional performance than he did in both Thor and The Avengers.
Idris Elba is becoming much more of a household name and it was nice to give him both a few action scenes and a few emotionally-driven character scenes, much moreso than the first outing.
The action scenes in this film were incredible, as the dark elves used all sorts of crazy weaponry, playing with gravity and black holes and explosions. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agabje (Lost) plays a villain named Kurse that is downright terrifying and his ruler Malekith puts up quite a fight in the film’s climax.
There are two scenes after the credits, so wait until the very end. I’ll be writing a spoiler-filled explanation for one of these, that is confusing to those of you that don’t know anything about Marvel history. Soon.
What doesn’t work?
I only had two real complaints. The movie felt funnier which was great but sometimes it lessened the impact of what was happening. While Kat Dennings was great, there were a few moments I got irritated and annoyed by her, which I don’t think was the desired response.
And then Christopher Eccleston as Malekith. As I said above, I loved the action bits with Malekith, but he doesn’t really get much else to do. You understand what he’s trying to do, but not why. He looked amazing, especially in the later parts of the film, but I don’t think they really let Eccleston have the quieter moments that would’ve let us see inside the villain.
I thought to myself several times throughout the movie that (aside from The Avengers) this might be in the running for my favorite Marvel film. “WHAT!?” you say. I thoroughly enjoyed it. While it lacks Robert Downey Jr, it makes up for it with incredible action, some great emotional exchanges between characters, and some really cool cameos and teases towards the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I had very few complaints and enjoyed Thor: The Dark World immensely. The Avengers is the only Marvel film I’ve given 5 stars and I feel this film didn’t always utilize its talent (especially in Eccleston) but I’m going to give this film a very strong 4/5.