Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Eccleston
Director: Alan Taylor
After many eons, the dark elves led by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) return to continue their siege on the Asgardians with a powerful weapon. Coincidentally a cosmic event known as the Convergence is soon to occur, causing multiple portals to open within the Nine Realms, merging worlds that really shouldn’t be merging at all. With help from Loki (!!!), Thor hammers his way across the Realms to stop the dark elves’ plans for annihilation.
Thor: The Dark World will be liked by a majority of movie goers, particularly those really into the hero genre. The film will make at least a quarter of a billion dollars. However, don’t expect it to be a watershed movie in the evolution of superhero films. In fact, thematically it lingers at a plateau, rehashing old yarns with a garish, bigger budgeted veneer. If you want more of the first Thor but with better CG and amassed exposition, consider your wish granted. Annoyingly plucky moments, enormous body counts, massive property damage, Anthony Hopkins standing around… it’s all here for your amusement.
Director Alan Taylor (Deadwood, Mad Men, Bored to Death) tried his best to rub some of that Game of Thrones magic on this franchise, but knowing Marvel Studios, there were already too many cooks in the kitchen before the stove was even lit. The grand scheme for the Phases 2 and 3 are well in play and Taylor had to forgo what limited creative license he may had planned for the Thunder God.
The problem with the Thor films isn’t production value and the talent involved so much as the Asgardian himself. Thor is simply a difficult character to flesh out. The Son of Odin is by no means multi-dimensional, so they expound on his cliched troubles: Daddy issues, sibling rivalry and a love triangle. If one were to wax philosophic about the Marvel movie trinity, each character is an archetype for what makes a hero; Iron Man representing intelligence, Captain America, courage and Thor, strength. The last, however, is the least intriguing of the three. There’s no depth to strength, no creative way to draw complexity or tension to a concept that’s expressly meant to be seen to be believed. He’s a god with enchanted hammer that blasts occasionally onto our world thanks to a rainbow bridge.
How is an audience supposed to relate to that, through Jane Foster? Hell, Odin doesn’t even want to deal with her or any other humans. In the post-Avengers world, humans – with exception to the non-powered heroes and SHIELD personnel – have been portrayed with a campish buffoonery that stifles progression and risks offending our esteem for the Marvel films. Dr. Eric Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) has been reduced to a ranting madman; Darcy (Kat Dennings), as sarcastic as ever and blissfully unaware of the looming catastrophe now has her own intern (Jonathan Howard) who’s so dense, he must barely register any brain waves. Remember how we hated the humans in the Transformer films? That frighteningly familiar feeling is slinking its way into these Phase 2 flicks.
Thankfully, the twisted brotherly bond between Loki and Thor makes those dull groan-worthy moments that more tolerable. In fact, the most poignant and emotional scenes all feature Hiddleston, who is the sole actor to give the film what little soul and originality it has to offer. When combined, Tom’s charisma and Hemsworth’s square jaw are the butter to the massive pile of bread The Dark World will make in its US release.
Thor: The Dark World is an average addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe that provides all the sound and fury millions crave, but offers no significant advancement in Marvel’s master plan. Not unless you count the mid-credits scene, so if you want to save your money just peek in when the names start scrolling.