Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thor: The Dark World Review

When the woman he loves is infected with a a dangerous and eternal power Thor must whisk her away to Asgard in an attempt to keep her safe from an ancient evil that has returned to the galaxy in this sequel to the 2011 Phase-1 Marvel film.

Thor was never a character I really cared for in my youth. Honestly, I wasn't really one who ventured far past the X-Men or Batman in my childhood comic book reading and I think that's strictly because they were the only two that had their own successful cartoons in the 90s. The most I remembered of Thor from my childhood was that the little girl from Adventures in Babysitting was obsessed with him and his winged helmet. Thor only really caught my attention recently when I knew that Marvel Studios planned to give him a film and include him in their "Avengers Initiative." Now, post-Thor and Post-Avengers we sit in phase two where the characters have a chance to really inhabit the world that has been established.

Plot Overview

2 years after the original film (and we assume 1 year after Avengers) Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is busy attempting to bring peace to the Nine Realms while on his way to proving himself a worthy king of Asgard. Meanwhile, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) toils away in the dungeons of Asgard after condemnation for his actions in New York City during The Avengers. Back on Earth, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) struggles to move on in her life after Thor never came back for her as he promised to, while also investigating gravitational anomalies in London with Darcy (Kat Dennings) and attempting to find her mentally unstable colleague Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard.) When one of these anomalies transports Jane to another world and she is attacked by an eternal power known as the Aether, Thor must return to Earth to help her. Bringing her back to Asgard for research into what has happened to her, Thor soon discovers that the Aether has taken Jane as a host and an ancient evil race known as The Dark Elves and their leader Malekith (Christopher Eccelston) soon attacks Asgard to reclaim it. Knowning the only way to protect his home from another attack is to take Jane elsewhere, Thor turns to Loki to help him carry out his plans.

Story and Character

 Thor: The Dark World is a lot of fun. The movie may be formulaic, especially in the sense of what Marvel movies are, but it is also engaging and original enough to have some surprises in the story along the way. The actors and writers alike all seem has a tight grasp on almost all of the characters in terms of voice and motivations. The only one that fell flat, and sadly for the second film in the series, was Natalie Portman. Despite being a more-than-capable actress, Portman spends a majority of the film sleeping, looking worried, or yelling for Thor to save her. Despite having updated the character to being an astrophysicist instead of a nurse like her early comic book counterpart, Jane Foster still feels like a two-dimensional damsel in distress. Instead of the smart and independent woman we were led to believe Jane was in the original film, she is now instead a helpless, Bella Swan copy who can't get over her first boyfriend. Besides this flaw, the rest of the characters shine. Both Hemsworth and Hiddleston seem to be able to step back into the shoes of their respective characters with ease and still retain the "bickering brothers" chemistry. I was also both surprised and overjoyed at the end of the film to find that it was none other than one-time Doctor Who star Christopher Eccelston that played the evil Malekith. The movie seems to keep the humor at a high more than I remember the first one doing, though I do remember the first one keeping with the laughs pretty often. There are times where it might be wondered, though, if they truly sacrificed story for humor, including moments where it seems characters feel nothing of the gravity a situation like "the impending end of existence" would have. However, as an argument, the fact that this is probably the third or fourth world-destroying threat the people in this universe have seen in two years means that it, and the massive destruction it causes may not seem as threatening.


The visual effects in on par with everything we've seen put forth from the Marvel cinematic universe thus far, minus one or two hiccups. There were only a few times that it was quite obvious that the actors were standing in front of a green screen instead of actually inhabiting a space but they were minor enough to not be distracting. While the sound design delivered the booms, rumbles, and bangs we expect in our action movies it was the sweeping and epic score by Brian Tyler that really took center stage in the terms of audio.

Final Verdict

Thor: The Dark World is high-concept escapist fun that will please fans of the Marvel cinematic universe. With a wonderful visual style, beautiful score, and great performances from most of the cast it does a good job of keeping the Marvel train rolling. While does not do much to top what Marvel has already done, it delivers on what is to be expected. Those looking for deeper character work or darker subject matter in the wake of The Avengers would probably be better served with Iron Man 3 or waiting for Captain America: Winter Soldier as Thor seems to be more of a vessel for the comic relief with Marvel.

1 comment:

  1. Good review Matt. Cool to see Thor get another movie that fully-fleshes him out, without making him seem like nothing other than just a total meat-head. With a hammer, of course.