When this film first started, I thought for a moment that I was watching a trailer for the upcoming Hobbit movie. A fun and entertaining superhero tale, Thor: the Dark World makes no bones about embracing its fantasy roots. From the very first scene, we are introduced to dark elves using an elemental cosmic energy, the Aether, in their fight against the gods. The voice over narration and special effects seem like they’re ripped right out of Tolkien. Scenes of battle, featuring swordplay and Thor’s hammer flying across the screen, immediately follow the opening sequence. Shortly, thereafter, we are taken to Asgard – home of the gods!
Personally I found it refreshing, and frankly somewhat of a relief, how fully this Thor movie was willing to be something of an exercise in high fantasy. I would have expected studio pressures might demand a more earth-centric Thor film, a story that could have made him less godly and otherworldly and that would have left him spending more time in our world. I was impressed by just how much of the film took place in Asgard and the nine realms, and how much of the story’s focus was on the gods and their challenges as opposed to the focus being primarily on humanity.
Which is not to say that Earth and humans do not feature prominently in this movie, or that earth does not become a primary ground for the story’s action. However when compared to, say, Tony Stark’s being stripped down to a common man without his suit for much of Iron Man 3, or the Green Lantern film’s decision to skimp on the outer space sequences in favor of attempting to build a romantic drama on Earth, I appreciated that the filmmakers were willing to let Thor: the Dark World be what it is… an unabashed superhero fantasy!
Thor: The Dark World is far from a perfect movie. It lacks the cohesion and narrative drive of last year’s Avengers. The story is somewhat disjointed and features characters that are underdeveloped. It’s also somewhat of a stock superhero story; in many respects it’s nothing you haven’t seen done before. As with the first Thor movie, I thought the onscreen chemistry between Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth fell flat.
Overall, though, I thought Thor: The Dark World was a pleasant surprise. I appreciated the studio’s willingness to spend this sort of money on an unabashed fantasy. I thought there were some brilliant performances, some incredible battle sequences, and some great twists and turns along the way. Despite its flaws, the narrative holds together well enough to deliver a fun and engaging, effects-filled action story.
It may not reach the heights of The Avengers or the Lord of the Rings movies, but Thor: the Dark World is still a rollicking good time. As with most films from Marvel, be sure to stay through all the credits all the way to the very end. There are a total of two post-credit sequences, which are both worth staying for.
Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” continues the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself. In the aftermath of Marvel’s “Thor” and “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos…but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano, Jaimie Alexander with Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins as Odin
Story by: Don Payne and Robert Rodat
Directed by: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely