Thor: The Dark World Movie Review
The thunder god’s second solo adventure might not be the big break-out Marvel had hoped it to be, but it beats the first film by miles!
Genre: Action / Fantasy / Sci-Fi
Director: Alan Taylor
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Christopher Eccleston, Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Rene Russo, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Jaimie Alexander, Zachary Levi,
Tadanobu Asano & Stellan Skarsgård.
Run Time: 112 min.
US Release: 08 November 2013
UK Release: 30 October 2013
German Release: 31 October 2013
In anticipation of Avengers: Infinity War, which will be released this April, I decided to keep going with my review series of MCU films, starting with the long overdue Thor: The Dark World. Now, anyone who reads my ranking of the Phase One films will know that the first Thor, directed by Kenneth Branagh, is one of my least favourite Marvel films. The story was bland, had poor character development and don’t get me started on all those Dutch angles! Naturally, I was somewhat sceptic of the sequel but it did manage to surprise me, even if a lot of viewers consider it the worst of the MCU films.
— WARNING, THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! —
Frustrated and heartbroken that Thor (Hemsworth) did not visit her during his battle in New York, astrologist Jane Foster (Portman) plunges herself into work. When she encounters a weapon from an ancient past that can reshape reality, the god of thunder needs to come to her aid to save her life. While mean, a long-forgotten enemy of the Asgardians returns to retrieve that weapon and destroy the universe as it is, to bring back a time of darkness. Thor will need to put his differences with his brother Loki (Hiddleston) aside if he wants to save the universe and Jane.
This is more of a personal Asgardian tale than the previous Thor ever was, a positive aspect of the story as we get to learn more about their civilisation, culture and history. Taylor and the writers delved deeper into Norse mythology while changing a few aspects here and there to integrate those arcs effectively into the fantasy plot. The tone, darker this time around, serves the threat of the Dark-Elves very well.
That said, although this is a vast improvement to the first Thor, the narrative is still a structural mess, suffering from too many subplots. Up front is the unnecessarily prolonged romance between Thor and Jane Foster, which is handled very clumsy and nearly takes over the whole movie. This leads to the storyline of the Dark Elves being buried underneath their blossoming happiness, a shame because it dampens the threat of those creatures, turning them into underdeveloped villains. The plot would have been more interesting had it focused on the Dark Elves, rather than Thor and Jane holding hands.
I always liked the old-English vocabulary used in Asgard, even though it would have been more accurate if it were an Old Norse language. That said, some of the jokes are simply cringeworthy and the romantic talk is dreadful!
Chris Hemsworth plays once again Thor. He is as always extremely charismatic and likeable as the god of thunder, donning the role and making it his own. Thor himself grew as a character since we last saw him in The Avengers. He is selfless and ready to give his life for beings that need protection but his heart is torn between Asgard and Earth, where the love of his life resides. The chemistry between Hemsworth and Jane, on the other hand is a little icky.
Natalie Portman gives once again a poor depiction of her character, Jane Foster. While Jane is book smart and courageous, she keeps getting into situations where she needs to get rescued by the god of thunder and is also the demise of Frida, Thor’s mother. Portman herself gives a lacklustre performance, not due to her skill as an actress as she is very talented but due to the way her character is written. Yet, the movie focuses too much on her character.
Tom Hiddleston returns as Loki and is as charming as ever. His presence alone made for a better film and his chemistry with Hemsworth is simply unbeatable -an important factor, given that he plays Thor’s mischievous younger brother. It is regretful nonetheless, that the secondary villain overshadows the main threat of the plot.
Malekith the Accursed, portrayed by Christopher Eccleston, could have been such an interesting villain if he were given the screen time he deserves. This is sadly not the case and thus we obtain a rushed story with a poorly developed villain, whose motivations are hard to comprehend.
Cinematographic-wise, Thor: The Dark World is again a huge improvement from the first flick. It contains steady two/three shots and solid action sequences, as well as making good use of close-ups. Asgard itself is depicted as grimmer; the colour palette was dialled down, making it look less like a child’s cartoon and more of a respectable blockbuster. The lighting, though, is at times extremely dark. The effects are as always top-notch for a Marvel film. Asgard, Vanaheim and the dark world Svartalfheim, look like actual existing places, then again, some of the CGI and green screen effects look cheap and dated.
Verdict: This second Phase Two picture is certainly not a great movie but it is a grand improvement to the first Thor feature and a fun blockbuster at that. The plot is a little messy, trying to focus on too many side-stories at once, with the romance taking up to much time of the narrative. The jokes do not always land and the sweet-talk between Thor and Jane is truly terrible. Nonetheless, the darker atmosphere and focus on Asgard, improve the story overall. Hemsworth and Hiddleston are fun to watch as brothers Thor and Loki respectively, both are charming and work well together on screen, however, Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster is a weak depiction of a female lead in a comic book movie. The cinematography is a definitive upgrade to its predecessor, even if some effects could have been polished up. In the end, I will give Thor: The Dark World a 7.5 out of 10.
So, do you agree with my review? Leave a comment below and let me know. If you want to read more MCU reviews, simply scroll down. Thank you very much for reading!