THOR: THE DARK WORLD Review

by     Posted 1 year, 40 days ago

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The biggest hurdle of 2011’s Thor wasn’t getting audiences to believe that a Norse god/space alien was just as convincing as a wealthy inventor with technologically advanced armor or a guy whose body turns big and green when he gets angry.  The challenge was leaving Earth and taking us to a new world, and while Kenneth Branagh’s film didn’t hold up for me on repeat viewings, I was still taken with his vision of Thor’s homeworld of Asgard.  Thor: The Dark World is a case of being careful what you wish for and being grateful for what you have.  Alan Taylor’s sequel becomes far too enamored with the design of otherworldly realms and the supernatural machinations of the villain than with its eponymous hero.  But when the story finally turns its attention to the God of Thunder and his scene-stealing adopted brother, then The Dark World hits with the force of Mjolnir.

Long ago, Malkeith (Christopher Eccleston) and his dark elves wanted to wield a powerful dark energy called “Aether” and use it to destroy the universe when the nine realms were in alignment.  He was stopped by the forces of Asgard, fled by sacrificing most of his men, and the Aether was hidden where no one would ever find it.  Cut forward to the present day, and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is busy cleaning up chaos in the nine realms, winning the adoration of his people, and being groomed to be the new king.  However, his heart is heavy because he wants to be with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).  Back on Earth, she stumbles upon the Aether, gets infected by it, which summons Malekith, and sets off a chain of events where Thor must reluctantly unite the imprisoned Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in order to stop the big bad space elf.

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For the first half of Thor: The Dark World, the star is the production design.  It’s a curious blend of medieval style and futuristic space weapons.  The first movie took a more classic approach of shining up Norse mythology, but Taylor’s vision tries to wrangle in new designs like ancient-looking scepters that also go “pew pew” when they fire laser beams.  This kind of medieval magi-tech is certainly eye-catching, and allows Taylor to create a cultures that are distinctly different from the Asgardians.  Still, it takes a bit of readjustment to accept a race of malevolent elves flying around in spaceships.

However, the first half doesn’t give us much else to think about.  The movie spends its first half with almost non-stop set-up to the point where I was left to wonder, “Where’s Thor?”  The film admirably wants to expand Jane’s role, but the plot expands it into a damsel in greater distress.  Meanwhile, the threat of the dark elves never quite sparks because Malekith barely qualifies as a one-dimensional villain.  He wants to cover the universe in darkness, which would give him the power to do…something?  If he uttered anything other than gravely voiced threats, I guess he would say, “I’m a dark elf.  I want to create darkness.  It’s my thing.”  Back on earth, Erik (Stellan Skarsgard), Jane’s intern Darcy (Kat Dennings) and her new intern Ian (Jonathan Howard) are reminding us that Earth (specifically London) will be very important later on.

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Taylor tries to follow Branagh’s lead by paying attention to the artistry of the otherworldly dimension.  As I said, fleshing out Asgard and other realms was the most important part of Thor.  But it wasn’t the best part of the first movie.  The best part belonged to Thor and Loki, and the strength of their relationship was one of the reasons The Avengers was so good.  Thor is an honorable with a roguish side and Loki is a rebel with a hint of honor.  Admittedly, that’s a bit of an over-simplification, but they undeniably complement each other, and once Thor: The Dark World finally brings them together, the movie ignites.

From the moment the estranged brothers are forced together, a movie that was sporadically funny and occasionally exciting becomes painfully hilarious and absolutely captivating.  Rather than simply providing visually lush settings, Taylor shows us why this world is special.  All of the Marvel movies have their own production design and style, but the second half of The Dark World features elements that would only work in a Thor movie.  No matter how many Marvel movies you see, it’s unlikely any of them will have anything remotely resembling the climatic battle in this film.

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More importantly, by the time we reach the battle, Thor and Loki have already clicked everything into place.  Like 2011’s Thor, Portman is completely wasted and her chemistry with Hemsworth is nice but not explosive.  The real love story (not to go all slashfic) is between Thor and Loki.  They have the history, and Hemsworth and Hiddleston have tremendous chemistry, although Hiddleston has the charisma to make every relationship better.  Marvel could make Loki: The Post Office and it would be amazing because of Hiddleston.  All of Loki’s cutting remarks hit with the same force as his bitter recriminations.

As the first hour of the movie rolled along, I continued to wonder when we would see more of what makes Thor special rather than taking in the scenery and seeing tired plot devices (after The Dark Knight and certainly The Avengers, no bad guy in a blockbuster movie should ever be thrown in jail).  Rather than just showing us a world that’s different, Taylor eventually shows us what makes Thor’s world unique.  If you can wait to get to the quips and hammering, Thor: The Dark World is as high-flying as its Norse god space alien.

Rating: B-

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  • Jim

    It’s a bad movie.

    • bombinUSA

      cool now go watch keeping up with the kardashians you retarded prick.

      • Jim

        It just wasn’t that good a movie. I just got bored during it. There was no character development. Jan Foster is a boring character. The juxtaposition between asguard and earth was jarring. Earth sequences were thrown in there to try and add humor. Spoilers begin because I’m not a jerk. [They played that scene with Selvig going nuts twice in full, one for the audience, then on the TV for Kat Dennings. Why play that scene for us earlier where it would have been more effective showing it once. Loki was the only good thing in the movie, I liked the ending, sets up a good sequel. I also liked Heimdehll and his action sequence when he got to actually do stuff. But Maleketh was the worst villain. He wanted the Aether so he could bring darkness to the 9 realms. Wow. What then. He can have a peaceful sleep? Its the worst plot motivation. For the other guy (I think he was called Kurse? I didn't care), they switched between a cool CGI model of him and a poorly made Orc costume from LOTR to fight Thor with. It was incosistent and obvious.] End.
        Good to know the Kardishians have a TV series so now I know I can avoid it at all costs.

      • The Damn Hammer, Man

        And don’t forget about the fucking hammer getting lost and looking for its owner like a fucking lost puppy.

      • bombinUSA

        tl;dr

      • JBug

        It was very dark also (colors, not the tone). I prefer the brightest of the first one. Also, there was barely any thunder/lightning.

      • Cooper

        bominUSA is too cool for dumb reality shows. Real men like him watch epic stuff like Thor 2 and Bubble Guppies till their mom gets home and gives them a ride to the mall.

      • bombinUSA

        hilarious, you just admitted to watching crappy reality tv shows. knew you were a huge homo.

      • Daniel Mitchell

        No need to be nasty because someone thinks the films not good.

      • Snarky

        While I agree that one shouldn’t be nasty because of a difference in opinion, simply saying “it’s a bad movie” is glib, unproductive and intended to be inflammatory. There’s absolutely nothing gained from a comment like that.

      • bombinUSA

        jim is a faggot lil bitch and is just angry that loki and thor didn’t have a gay sex scene as he wished from the chinese poster.

      • pro346

        that’s going to be a deleted scene on the bluray

      • Jean Ito

        relax men is ok

    • juleeodx965

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    • grapes9h5

      everyone is entitled to their opinion, but “bad” seems a little too strong to me.

      • SanTelmoJack

        “Bad” seems a little too strong? golly gee.

      • Jim

        Its, in my opinion, the first bad MCU film done so far. But now that we have 4 TV series and a miniseries with Daredevil and Luke Cage and more, Thor 2 will remain a distant memory.

      • Bob

        Funny how people have different opinions, I thought it was by far Marvel’s 3rd Best Film so far after The Avengers and Iron Man.

      • JBug

        Second to worst. IM2 was way worse, IMO.

    • Lexavi80

      I guess you can’t please everyone.

      I, on the other hand, think the movie was fantastic!

  • Wega

    A lot of the success of this sequel goes to what Marvel has achieved with Loki. They smartly chose to remind audiences of what makes him endearing and dangerous. Thor -the movie as much as the character- is much better because of his presence.

  • Jean Ito

    bad movie

    • Jean Ito

      movie for kids

      • Gil8ert

        Is making a kids movie justification for making a bad movie? I think not! There are many brilliant kids films.

  • Brenno

    better than the first. Nice addition to the marvel family

  • Adam Heatherly

    How was the 3d im hearing bad things and i want to know if i should save my money

    • Lexavi80

      3D is almost no existent. I completely forgot I saw the movie in 3D until I saw your post.

      Definably save your money.

  • In Kevin Feige’s Pocket

    Matt gave yet another phoned in Marvel flick a free pass? What a surprise.

  • Lovecraftlives

    Good, a B- I can live with. I loved Thor and to me a Thor Dark World with a B- will probably be an A- when I see it. If Guardians of the Galaxy is good, yes I know that Captain American 2 will be out before that, then Marvel is going to have the movie going audience locked in for as long as they can. Believe me when I say they will be able to do no wrong, man! Forget Star Wars, forget Star Trek; Marvel is where it’s at!!

    • nintendozapper

      You said it Paid Advertisement Bot. Marvel is great!

      Wait, why do I have a bad taste in my mouth all of the sudden?

      Oh well. Can I have my check now, too?

  • Fiz

    “Uses ‘eponymous’ in the opening paragraph” should be part of the Collider Drinking Game.

  • Complement vs Compliment

    I think you mean “‘complement’ each other”

    • http://collider.com Matt Goldberg

      Fixed. Thanks!

  • drewlicious

    Looks like they went easy on Loki. He gets a cushy cell with books and everything. I guess Odin must be getting soft because in the old days he would would have thrown him in the room with no doors and let a snake drop venom in his eyes for a few millennia.

    • Lexavi80

      Well… you need to watch the movie to understand. Really…

  • AnthonyG1500

    Idk that I’d agree Loki has a hint of honor. He does some pretty messed up stuff in Avengers. I havent seen this though so maybe you know something I don’t

  • Strong Enough

    Sooooo,,,,… thor gets his hand cut off?

    • the dude abides

      how about watch the movie

      • Strong Enough

        how about shut the fuck up

  • Thomas R

    Can’t agree with this review at all. This was easily the worst of the Marvel Studio films to date. No character arcs, no real focus on anything. Its a complete mess of a film. The fact that the script was very much being put together during filming is very noticeable. There’s just no focus!! The filmmakers just try and cover up the weaknesses of the film with more and more CGI driven set pieces (that were boring because I never once cared for anyone or anything that was going on in the film). I find it funny that the brief scenes between Thor and Loki in Avengers had 10 times more emotion than ANYTHING in this film. And while the original Thor is not a great film, it at least gave us a compelling character arc with Thor (from prideful, selfish warrior to a self-sacrificing hero) that really gave the film an emotional anchor. This film has nothing like that. Its just one boring set piece after the next filled with unrealised characters who we care nothing for.

    • Jamesy

      I think the problem is that Thor just isn’t very relatable, he swings his hammer a few times and does some cool thunder shit and that’s it…they just rehash it over and over again. It’s the same with Iron Man, same thing over and over again, suit gets damaged…builds a new suit. Hemsworth plays Thor fine with what he’s given but he just isn’t a very interesting character, and Jane Foster just adds nothing, same with Kat Dennings character she just comes across as an annoying sidekick who CAN’T provide comic relief. The only interesting thing about Thor is Loki. At least with Iron Man they have RDJ who plays Tony Stark brilliantly and they can always use his wit etc to keep audiences interested. Bring on a Black Panther and Ant-Man! We need something new.

  • Liderc

    Too much comedy IMO. They’re ruining these movies with so much comedy, as they aren’t selling them as comedies.

    Iron Man 3 had the same problem, but with a lesser actor in Thor it’s even more embarrassing. They basically use Loki to save the film because they know Hemsworth can’t shoulder the film, if I was him I’d be embarrassed that Marvel doesn’t believe in him at all and they feel the need to stick really talented actors around him.

    I mean they put Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, and Stellan Skarsgard around him. They’re the reason the movie even works at all (and they really don’t, not compared to Iron Man 1), not Chris.

    Even Avengers was on the brink of having too much comedy, which takes you out of the movie. Did I enjoy Hulk hitting Thor? Sure, but I think too much of that kind of comedy makes me feel like their target audience is 8-year olds.

    • Lidercisfuckingretarded

      You’re an idiot. That is all.

    • Lidercisfuckingretarded

      You’re an idiot. That is all.

      • Liderc

        Well educated and intelligent response.

    • JBug

      The comedy was the best part of the movie, but it felt totally forced.

  • Marissa Evans

    “Admittedly, that’s a bit of an over-simplification”
    That’s very much why I don’t really get the hype around these guys, particularly Loki since he seems to be such a big hit. I suppose I do have some bias as I’ve never really been sucked into the Marvel universe, but it does come down to my seeing them as cut-outs of existing great characters. The ethos, to me, is very simplified. But it is a welcome refreshment from the even simpler “good hero vs. bad villain” scenario in the majority of comic book movies, so I’ll give it that. It’s just not as good as the hype makes it out to be is all.
    But yeah, that aside, this is a pass for me. Thanks for another great review, Matt. :)

  • The Flobbit

    Please someone who has seen answer: Does Loki die?
    Answer with a yes or no. This is for a bet.

    • Joe

      “Does Loki die?”

      Yes…and…No

      • The Flobbit

        OK, so he’s killed (Read: sacrifices himself) to save Jane Foster who is in the grips of Malekith. Through some deux ex machina, he comes back to life and redeems himself Darth Vader-style. All is fine and dandy.

        Say no more. I want no more spoiled.

        Or maybe Loki’s little spineless dopplegangers get killed…

      • ʝoe Dimþleš ßloggs

        –SPOILER–

        He was killed and thus redeemed.
        But he wasn’t killed and hence isn’t redeemed.

  • grapes9h5

    I mostly agree with your review Matt, though even the second half was a bit lackluster due to the hollow plotting so painfully hashed over and over again in the first half. The production design indeed was what kept me going in that first half (to me, that was the only part of the first movie that I remember fondly), and in the second it was more or less the hope for something better to come along. No denying the Loki and Thor stuff saved the movie, and the end battle delivered in an actiony way, but thats not what really gets me, even in an Action super-hero movie. I didnt have great expectations going in, so Im not at all “disappointed” by any means. Thor 3 better have a villain of quality. The cliffhangers/teasers were really the only truly positive things I left with.

    And yes, please can we stop having mastermind villains in prison scenes already!!!

  • SanTelmoJack

    Lots of typos (well, at least three) Was it that much of a rush to get the review out?

  • SanTelmoJack

    Marvel films are looking more and more like nothing more than well-produced B-movies. Maybe that’s all they’re meant to be. Too bad.

  • wolverqueen

    It wasn’t a touch in the first Thor, which I believe is the second best Marvel Movie, after The Avengers.

    I think that JIm is spot on with his assessment, it really was quite bad. The fight scene where Thor is cleaning up one of the 9 realms was so poorly done, it was incredible. All the bad guys looked like they had raided the wardrobe closet from 1980′s Dr Who TV series… (as did the imprisoned bad guys as well).

    The film was poorly paced, the dark elves wasted – and no real reason given as to why he liked darkness so much…

    silly stuff – seemed like they were just making it up as they went along…

    • Alexander Calvo

      Do you people just not read the subtitles? The elves universe was all darkness, they wanted to restore their world. How did you miss this?

    • JBug

      I blame Alan Taylor. The story was awful, but the execution felt so mechanic.

  • sense11

    It was good enough, liked it more then Iron Man 3

  • http://www.collider.com/ DNAsplitter

    It seems that the Rotten Tomatoe count has been steadily declining all day – currently at 65%. It does not look like this sequel has improved upon the original but is riding the coat tails the Avenger’s wave and a stepping stone to the Avengers: Age of Ultron. It’s a shame because this and Iron Man 3 seem to be missing the marks set before them. I guess it’s hard to keep so many juggling balls going at the same time. But none the less I will still be there this weekend to see it for myself and will make my own judgement calls after.

  • IMPYEMU

    Better than Iron Man 3, but it lacks a Strong Villain (in reference to Malekeith not Loki) and Kat Dennings and Natalie Portman are awful and unnecessary.

  • Alexander Calvo

    Our universe superceded the dark elves’, they wanted to restore their world. How is that one dimensional? It makes him sympathetic, and unquestionably the hero from his perspective. If you didn’t get this it just means you weren’t paying attention.

  • Lance

    I actually liked this more than Iron Man 3. Yes there was comedy, but I didn’t feel like they used it to substitute for the plot.

    The movie was certainly not a character-based drama, but there was enough there, especially from knowing the characters before, that the Thor/Jane and Thor/Loki story lines worked for me.

    Unlike Matt, I really liked the “elves in space” angle, and I thought, “if this is how Guardians of the Galaxy is going to look, then Marvel has their own Star Wars on its hands!”

    Then I saw the credit scenes and [SPOILERS] there was an all-pink girl and a Benicio Del Toro with white hair and orange skin (he looked like a really tall Oompah-Loompah). Production values straight out of the original, 1960s tv version of Star Trek! What the hell?!

  • JBug

    Can we start some dialogue on the post credit scenes?! Firstly, how awful did the Collector look? How sick of a way to introduce the Infinity Gems? I love how they are setting up for Avengers 3 five years in advanced? Someone else already pointed it out, but doesn’t GotG look like Space Balls?

  • Alex Hajna

    What does that mean?

  • Joe

    Don’t Touch Marvel Reviews?

    Does Thor’s Mother RIP??

    Do Titillate My Rhubarb???

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