Review of Thor: The Dark World
Director: Adam Taylor, James Gunn
Writer: Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Don Payne, Robert Rodat
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Idris Elba, Anthony Hopkins, more.
I'd like to admit up front that any of my reviews of Marvel things will most likely be a little biased. The Marvel Universe is very dear to me, I've been reading the comics since I learned to read, and the characters are very important to me. I enjoy seeing them in any media. I like seeing them in live action...seeing new takes on my favorite characters. I much prefer amazing movies with them in it, no surprise. But to be honest, I find myself enjoying even the worst movies if they include these guys. I don't enjoy the bad ones as much, but I still watch them multiple times and have a sense of elation the first couple times. So my reviews for Marvel things might be slightly skewed, though I will strive to be somewhat fair and impartial. The final review score will be partly based on how good it is in general, and partly in comparison to other Marvel products,
I was waiting for this movie with a mix of excitement and worry. Excited with the arrival of any new Marvel movie, and worry that it wouldn't live up to the level of greatness that has been in the last couple MCU movies. Deep down I'd like all the Marvel movies to be critically acclaimed blockbusters.The first Thor is very enjoyable to me, even after the 10th viewing. But I realize it's no Avengers, Iron-man, or Dark Knight. I have been eagerly waiting to see the next part of the MCU Thor story. I am happy to say that The Dark World lives up to almost all my expectations. I won't give too many big spoilers on anything I review that's not at least a few years old.
The plot is entertaining and attention grabbing, if not really deep and meaningful. The actual villain plot I mean, the plot of Thor and his family is actually deeply rewarding. The angst betwen Loki and Thor, the love and sense of horror that Frigga feels for her adopted son, Loki. The tragedy that befalls Asgard and Odin's family is heart wrenching. All the actors give wonderful performances. Hiddleston, Hemsworth,and Elba are the stand out performances. This is not a big surprise as Thor and Loki have the most screen time, and
Elba has as much as anyone else in the film. The entire cast does amazing jobs with the limited screen time tthey actually got. The two main villians were sueperbly filled out by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Christopher Eccleston, who played Algrim and Malektih, respectively. Algrim actually comes across as a bit sympathetic, as he is mostly just being loyal to his King and his people. There's nothing sympathetic at all about Malekith, he is pure evil and mindless vengeance., but it is done with sinister gusto by the acting and writing. The whole "trying to destroy the world" villains never make all that much sense, even though it's a frequent plot used in movies and comics. Maybe because we've never really had someone with that much power in the real world. We know and can understand would-be conquers. But someone who's main goal in life is to destroy everything just doesn't resonate with our own life experiences. But I'm not sure if there could ever be such a person in real life. Even mass murders and tyrants would still want the world to exist, or else who would they kill and rule? So maybe it would take an outside alien force for it to ever become a real world threat. That being said, it is pretty uplifting to feel that the hero is fighting for the survival of everything there is. The means which the Dark Elves try to to accomplish this goal is a bit cliched...some magical thingy that will destroy the universe. But I guess if you think about it, if they didn't need this thing, they would have already destroyed everything.So it's a cliched plot device that ultimately kinda makes sense. The one part I don't like that much about the MCU is that so far they've made magic non-existent. The Asgardians are aliens with tech that seems magic. The same for the Dark Elves and trolls and everything else. The tech is interesting and exciting in its own right, but still a bit disappointing, and kind of feels like a cop out of not being able to mix magic into the somewhat scientific MCU. But I know they already working on the Dr.Strange movie, and assume that there will be a Ghost Rider reboot..so I'm not really sure how they intend to do that without real magic. And I honestly hope they DO NOT do it without real magic. The Dark World does get a nice high tech adventure story aspect from it though, which puts me in mind of Star Wars. The battle between the flying ships of Asgard and the Elves could easily have been seen in Star Wars or any number of sci-fi star-ship movies.
I was waiting equally to see what happens with Loki, as much as Thor. I know lots of people who were even more excited about Loki. This is a testament to the amazing job Hiddleston has put into that character. The writers have given him some good things to work with, but his acting and charisma has made even the most mundane scenes memorable. The Dark World has Loki being both the tragic villain, and the unexpected anti-hero. When tragedy strikes his family, and we get to see Loki in his cell....broken, bloody from having punched and kicked everything in his cell with bare fists and feet, and covering it all with an illusion to hide his pain, and the look on his face when Thor tells him to drop the illusions, is priceless. It will be linked to the thought of this movie for me, even more so than the star-ship and hammer fights. I take nothing away form the astounding jobs done by a group of wonderful actors, but Loki and Thor's relationship and own inner turmoil stole the show. Hemsworth is a perfect mix of well-built action hero, and deeply moving actor who makes us forget that we are watching an actor at all. The love story between Thor and Jane is sweet and touching, but it is actually not the main relationship plot. Portman brings the role to life for us, but she is still somewhat limited in that she is a damsel in distress. A very intelligent, capable, and beautiful D.I.D., but still one none the less. The one woman in the movie who is not a DID, or a mother figure, Sif, barely gets any screen time. The same goes for the rest of the Warriors. They are integral parts of the story, and Hogun is even given a bit of back story, but they are still barely there screen time wise. The final battles with Kurse and Malekith is just Thor and Loki. That's not really a bad thing,as the battles are intense and compelling, but I still wish Thor's friends had been there for it. Elba puts more weight and dignity into his few minutes on screen than seems possible. Heimdall is a captivating character, even though we know nothing about him other than he guards Asgard. That is partly because of the character, but mostly because of Elba. He was after all, the only real compelling part of a Marvel flop movie: Ghost Rider, Spirit of Vengeance. Well, him and a few of the graphic hellfire fight scenes.
Overall, the movie is wonderful. The acting is top notch, the writing is compelling if not overly involved at times. The action sequences will have your heart in your throat the first time you see them, from the ship battles to the teleporting melee brawl. But, most people came to this movie for Loki and Thor, and they shall not leave disappointed.
Acting: 9 Dialog: 7 Plot: 7 Action: 8 Drama: 8 Romance: 6 Bromance: 10 Special effects: 10 Music: 9 Overall: 9