Thor: The Dark World is a 2013 superhero action movie.
Directed by: Alan Taylor.
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Christopher Eccleston, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Jaimie Alexander, Zachary Levi, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, Idris Elba, Renee Russo, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgard.
It was three years ago that I sat in the theater with my friends to watch Iron Man 2. Despite conflicting opinions and interest, we had a blast with it. It was an even better time when we stayed for the credit scenes to see which new Marvel character would make it's coming debut: that character was Thor. Son of Asgard, wielder of Mjolnir and the infamous Thunderer of the Nine Realms. Yes my friends, we were excited beyond words. Unfortunately, my friends and I never got to experience the first Thor movie together. Parting ways can be a burden, but we ended up talking about it with preference and dislikes, as far as adaptations would take us.
I never quite had concrete reasons to why parts of Thor didn't sit right with me. Maybe it was S.H.I.L.E.D.'s involvement, the soap opera-ish nature or the lack of building the world of the Nine Realms. Which wouldn't bother me so much later after various replay values. Now in the present, after the success of Avengers, Kevin Feige has continued to push his decades planned sequels and new focused adventures to reach a goal we've yet to realize. Of the sequels this year were Iron Man 3 and the center of current attention, Thor: The Dark World. In a year where a man in a suit of armor can abandon all reason, a man from another planet in a red cape can fly to save a city on his first day and a man who has seemingly unbreakable claws with a love for Japanese culture, the last hero to prove his worthiness would simply swing his hammer capable of destroying mountains. So did this sequel break mountains? Well, someone should have told Thor to get out of the way before being buried in rubble.
The history of the Nine Realms of old Norse Mythology this time around dates back even further than what we saw in 900 A.D. Five thousand years ago, there was a battle on the ground and rock of Svartalfheim between the Dark Elves and the army of Asgard. It was a time of a grand Convergence, where planets would align. Leading these two sides was the noble and mighty All Father Borg, Odin's dad, against the malevolent Malekith the Accursed. In this battle Malekith sought out the power of the Aether, a red substance capable of either leaving the world in complete darkness of destroying ( I don't quite remember). Malekith lost, but quickly managed to escape with is right hand man Algrim and a handful of Dark Elves into a slumber for their impending return. Whatever happened to the Aether? Borg locked it away...until the present day arrived where history would once again repeat itself.
Of course all film is subjective and my opinion is in no way better or inferior to anyone else's. Fair to point out that Marvel and DC have very different tones when it comes to their cinematic universes. Obviously, Marvel chose fantastical adventures in a world full of escapism. There's nothing wrong with fantasy and escapism. Hell, some of us go to the movie theater in the first place to escape our lives for two hours and change. But, when does one draw the line with escapism? We know the House of Ideas is in the business of making family friendly movies that try not to sacrifice too much seriousness to drive their films, yet their Phase 2 plate of projects have had trouble realizing that being TOO jokey can be a pain. This isn't a debate about being faithful to the source material. Nay, this is about creating something that should make some sense to me, the viewer.
This sequel does offer more to behold than it's predecessor. Alan Taylor takes us the new realm of Vanaheim, home of Hogun (Asano) as he, Sif (Alexander), Fandral (Levi), and Volstagg (Stevenson) are defending the lands against some type of invaders that brought Rocket Launchers to a sword fight. A bit troubling, but nothing is impossible when you have Thor (Hemsworth) and his mighty hammer stomp and clobber all to win battles. We get to see Asgard once again, but this time, we stay there longer, we see more (military, training) and even healers. Odin (Hopkins) isn't sacrificed to be a plot device (thank Valhalla). It may have been two years, but the actions of Loki during his short reign as king and his attack on Midgard (Earth) sparked revolutions against Asgard from other realms. We even get to see his punishment brought to fruition in his prison, like a common criminal (if you can call the God of Mischief common).
Back on Earth, Jane Foster (Portman) has been searching for Thor in the last two years. Instead of moving on from what was simply a three day fling, she kept herself open to seeing him again like a virgin to a honeymoon. But, in her search, anomalies go Darcy's (Dennings) attention to fine Jane which would lead to her discovering the Aether. Amazing how Darcy is still an intern. Hell, its amazing she's still sticking around. But apparently, the Aether wasn't well hidden as it should have and Foster's contact with the weapon has captured the attention of Thor, via Heimdall (Elba) and brought her back to Asgard to save her life.
There is more to work with, not just with the locations, but with the characters. In this case, Thor and Odin have in a way changed. The mighty thunderer isn't the boy we saw in 2011 and is now worthy of being a king in the same light he can carry his hammer without trouble. Interestingly enough, Odin is the complete opposite of the King of Asgard he envisioned for his son. Though the dynamic between father and son works, it was unexpected to see Odin act so differently. Desperation for legacy? Maybe. However, I am disappointed in how Lady Sif and the Warrior's Three were handled. Sure, in the action they assist Thor in his mission, but are handled more as his weaponry than companions; accessories to just make the star look brighter, if you will. Where Sif fails to shine, Thor's mother Frigga (Russo) who handles a blade better than when she did with the miniature Frost Giant, like something straight out of Game of Thrones. Heimdall rocks it and isn't so stiff anymore.
Can I leave out the one character literally outshine the protagonist? Loki ! Yes, the one character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe besides RDJ's Iron Man that people of all ages, mainly women would scheduled into their weekends to see. As expected, he practically has the best character scenes, especially when he and Thor are in the same room together. With a surprise cameo, this is where the humor is well placed and not bastardized. He is the God of Mischief so humor was expected and delivered appropriately. Boasting so much of the heroes, I haven't even brought up Malekith (Eccleston). Problem is, there isn't much to discuss. Loki may not be the direct villain for this sequel, but he will be more talked about. This new villain, who should give Thor and the Nine Realms a run for their money, doesn't offer anything new or interesting and simply further the plot. He's like the Destroyer, but with English and Dark Elvish words and same can sadly be said for his Lieutenant Algrim (Adewale) and the rest of the Elvs. Don't get me wrong, in Asgard they were brilliantly handled, but later the writers just didn't care.
The villain's poor creation doesn't stop there. Much as the movie has issues with whether it wants to be serious and funny, it has bothered me a lot with the world of science and magic. It is very evident that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is almost completely devoid of it. This Thor, like the comics, is more alien than Demigod. Of this we all should know by now. I understand that science can be used to explain things we don't understand, however it presents science fiction and less the fabric of fantasy. Take my earlier mention of an enemy using a rocket launcher. I mean, really? The movie doesn't even capitalize on it's subtitle "Dark World" which seemed to promise the expectation of an established civilization crumbling down to make way for the ancient. Even some battles felt more like I was watching Star Wars or even Star Trek. This isn't me nitpicking, this is me pointing out some head scratching decisions.
Overall, Thor: The Dark World doesn't really live up to it's title. It does present great character moments between Hemsworth and Huddleston and doesn't offer much for it's villain. The visuals look great for its intentions, but can't quite eclipse a poorly pursued B love story and the lack of a strong woman by the side of a man. Trust me when I say that slapping a God amounts to nothing.
Written by: Bawnian©-Dexeus.