As I entered the theater last week Tuesday with my free popcorn and ICEE, I was beyond excited. But when I left the theater with an empty popcorn container and ICEE cup, I was left slightly confused, but still excited. I must admit my slightly mixed feelings about Thor: The Dark World. On one hand, the script and the characterization were phenomenal, but there were many, I mean MANY, plot twists.
Thor: The Dark World is a continuation of the adventures of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in the aftermath of Marvel’s Thor and The Avengers. The story begins thousands of years in the past on the day the nine realms align. A race called the Dark Elves try to send the world into darkness using a weapon of evil called the Aether. The warriors of Asgard, under the command of Bor, the father of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), arrive in time to stop the Dark Elves, but Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), their leader, escapes to wait for another opportunity. The Aether, left behind in Malekith’s flight, is a fluid, live weapon that cannot be destroyed and so the warriors of Asgard “hide it away”. In the present day, it has been two years since the happenings of Thor and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is still awaiting the return of her Norse god while Thor is off bringing peace to the nine realms. Jane finds an anomaly similar to the ones that brought Thor to Earth and she goes to investigate, getting sucked off into a wormhole, a wormhole that just happens to bring her to the Aether. Just like any female protagonist, she doesn’t know when to leave things alone. The Aether, searching for a human host, latches on to Jane and is absorbed into her body. At this point in Asgard, Thor learns from Heimdall (Idris Elba) that Jane has disappeared from his sight and Thor heads off to Earth. Just as he arrives, so do Jane and the police, trying to arrest Jane, Darcy (Kat Dennings), and Ian, Darcy’s intern (Jonathan Howard). The Aether within Jane’s body perceives the police as a threat and repulses them with some kind of energy outburst. Thor has no choice then to bring her to Asgard where they actually discover that it is the Aether within her body. Malekith, sensing that the Aether is on Asgard, attacks. He fails to get the Aether and Odin wants to keep Jane on Asgard to bait Malekith. Thor, however, disagrees, and he must commit treason and put his faith in his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), to protect Jane and save the nine realms.
I’d like to first offer a round of applause to the screenwriters and their genius. Thor: The Dark World was a huge improvement from the first movie. I understand that the first movie was supposed to be all about Thor’s self-discovery and reformation, but, as much as I enjoyed watching it, it was far too predictable and rather flat. Thor 2, on the other hand, is a perfect balances of laughs and tears. One second you will be curled over in belly laughs, and the next you will be in mourning. Kat Denning’s Darcy had a fair share of the jokes with her sarcastic personality, but it was Loki that blew me away with his witty remarks and shapeshifting fun. I know I was always a big fan of Loki and Tom Hiddleston, but this movie could not have made the audience love a villain any more.
It also helps that the movie ended with a comic book cliff hanger. It left me thinking “what just happened?” and “how does this effect everything else I watched in the last two hours?”.
This movie allowed the audience to see various sides of the characters that we were unable to experience in the first Thor.
Thor, our thunder wielding Norse god, only had brute and no brains in the first film. There was certainly a lot of brute in Thor here as well, but there was also a lot more brains. Chris Hemsworth played a far more godlike and intelligent Thor in this film, leaving me often wondering “When did Thor get so wise?”. It is also quite visible the effect the two previous visits to Earth, in Thor and in The Avengers, had on Thor. There is a scene in the final battle, which I won’t reveal, that might just be one of the funniest scenes in the entire movie. What’s better than a 6’3” god of thunder doing “routine Earthly things”?
Loki has his wit and snark, as expected of the silver-tongued god of mischief, along with a few fight scenes. He singlehandedly takes out a group of armed Dark Elves with nothing but a dagger. Yes, a dagger. Tom Hiddleston was able to also portray the conflict between the good and bad of Loki. When Loki was being evil, you knew he was bad, but when Loki was good, you couldn’t help but be convinced that he was.
Although I’m not quite impressed with Jane Foster and her damsel-in-distress role, I am impressed with her intelligence. She sees the magic and mystic of Asgard and isn’t overwhelmed by it all. Rather, she translates it all into terms that she understands, science, and uses it to her advantage. To her, science and magic is all one in the same.
If Jane is intelligence, then Sif is strength. Sif doesn’t need a man to protect or save her, as she mentions several times. And, although there were little bits of obscurely mentioned romantic feelings from Sif to Thor, she is not limited by this romance unlike Jane who waits two years for man from another world.
Lastly, Malekith is the supposed epitome of all evil. Why else would you want to return the universe to non-existence? In my opinion, however, the scenes without him were far more memorable than the ones with. I think the idea was to create a villain who is so evil that he wants nothing but malevolence in the world. However, Malekith’s goals came off as far too generic and vague. What were his motives? Where did such an idea come from? There are so many unanswered questions to what the Dark Elves were doing and why they were doing it that they just seemed like a filler for the rest of the plot.
There were far too many plot twists within the less than two hours that the film ran. It helped to keep the audience on their toes, but it could have led to some (a lot of) confusion, too. I mean, he was bad then he was good then he was bad then he was dead then he was alive.
Also, there were an abundance of aspects of the battles and Asgard in general that were too similar to Star Wars or Star Trek or any other science fiction movie. The Dark Elves are pretty much alien invaders with their giant spaceships and sleep pods where you can rest for 5,000 years and not age. And when did Asgard get Star Wars starfighters that shoot lasers and the laser cannons that rise out of the building tops? The Asgardian medical facility also uses an apparatus that Jane can identify. These things made Asgard feel less godly and more alien. I felt like I was watching a sci-fi film instead of the superhero film that I signed up for. I understand that some science is needed otherwise the whole character of Jane Foster, astrophysicist, becomes irrelevant, but there is a line that should not be crossed.
Overall, I enjoyed the film a lot. I entered and left with the feeling of excitement and anticipation for a possible sequel. With the brilliant acting and good mix of humor, drama, and action that represented Marvel superhero films perfectly, Thor: The Dark World is a good watch and a movie I’d recommend.