I recently wrote this review for Hope’s on-campus newspaper, The Anchor. Being an editor, I’m often asked questions about the types of submissions we’re looking for. Normally we only ask for 500 words, but we can usually fit a story that’s up to 750 words. For a better idea, check out my review of Thor: The Dark World, below!
Thor: The Dark World opens with an incredibly epic prologue featuring a massive war, with the Asgardians being led by Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) grandfather. The film’s antagonists are an army of ‘Dark Elves’, led by the Promethian-looking Malekith (Christopher Eccleston). Malekith’s only drive is to harness the power of a super weapon called ‘The Aether’ so that he can plunge the universe into eternal darkness. Thor’s grandfather comes through for the universe and ultimately causes Malekith to sacrifice many of his soldiers, and then entering hibernation.
Try as he might, Thor’s grandfather cannot destroy The Aether, so he hides it somewhere it will (hopefully) never be found. Due to the alignment of universes, which then causes the boundaries of the different universes to blur, The Aether is found about thirty minutes into the film.
The first thing you’ll notice about Thor: The Dark World is that the man himself (once he shows up) is not just a big, dumb warrior whose only aim is winning a fight anymore. Although there is a massive Tolkien-esque battle very early in the film, Thor has an air of serious about him. Whereas Thor was nothing more than a child in a man’s body in the first film, it’s obvious that he has grown up during his time with Tony Stark and The Avengers.
While Thor treats his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) with an extreme bout of ignorance for the first film, and most of ‘The Avengers’, he has wisened up and abandoned any form of trust for him. Loki is imprisoned on Asgard, and Thor is out bringing peace to the nine realms with his friends Sif and the Warriors Three.
The battle is over just a little too quickly, and after some characterization of the more somber Thor, the audience is brought back to earth for some catch-up time with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). She’s a little irked that Thor hasn’t talked to her since the first film, or even when he was back on earth to fight the Chitauri in ‘The Avengers’.
Foster and friends stumble across a portal to the place where Thor’s granddad hid The Aether (surprise, surprise), and it latches onto her much like the Venom symbiote does Spider-Man. This wakes up Malekith, and also makes Foster the universe’s most valuable person. Thor returns to earth in a dazzling visual spectacle only to scoop her up and take her back to Asgard so he can try and get The Aether out of her.
In another unsurprising move, Malekith launches an attack on Asgard, giving Thor a pretty big reason to retaliate in the process. In a predictable turn of events, Thor and Loki must work together again to not only save Foster, but to save the entire universe from Maliketh’s wrath.
The best scenes in in Thor: The Dark World are the ones where Loki is on camera. It’s sad that so much of the film’s two-hour runtime is spent developing the overall predictable plot, because it results in Loki’s screentime feeling a little rushed. It also doesn’t help that this time around Thor doesn’t have Tony Stark or Captain America around when Loki isn’t there to provide some depth and tension.
Kat Dennings returns as Darcy to provide some Whedonesque comedy, but one of the funniest characters is (surprisingly) Heimdall (Idris Elba). His one job is to protect the gates of Asgard, and once again he pretty much fails in every conceivable way. The rainbow bridge Bifrost isn’t totally destroyed this time around, but it comes pretty close thanks to Heimdall’s incompetence.
One of the film’s most disappointing aspects, second only to the prolonged absence of Loki, is the painstakingly slow development of Thor and Foster’s relationship. In comic books, it makes sense for love plots to develop at an inching crawl, but in film it just feels like a cheap cop-out so that Marvel has some filler in case a sequel’s plot runs a little thin.
While Thor: The Dark World is definitely an improvement over the first film, there’s definitely a lot of work to be done for the inevitable third one.The film’s high points are the small changes in Thor’s demeanour, some truly epic fights and an incredible performance from Hiddleston. The low points are the absence of Loki, and the (continuing) snail’s pace love interest development between Thor and Jane. All in all, the film comes together in a competent, but sometimes frustrating action film that just barely earns its spot in Phase 2 of the Marvel film continuity.