Review – Thor: The Dark World

Thor The Dark World official poster

Thor: The Dark World returns us to the realm of Asgard and a universe full of aliens posing as Norse gods. If you were a fan of the first one, I’d say you’ll be a fan of this one. And if you liked the first one but wished it had fewer scenes on Earth and more in space/Asgard, then you will definitely love this one.

I’ll admit my biases up front: I was usually bored with the Earth scenes in the first Thor, and I am also a member of the Loki Fan Club, so this movie delivered for me in both those ways. It delved more into the mythology of the nine realms and had a stronger “Fantasy Epic” feel, plus there was plenty of Loki being sassy and just generally existing, so if that’s all you want from your Thor sequel, get thee to a theater.

thor-the-dark-world--Loki in prisonOne of my favorite parts of the film was the very brotherly relationship between Loki and Thor. Even though Loki is a prisoner and Thor threatened to kill him if Loki betrayed him, whenever they’re together you can tell that they’re brothers. I wish their relationship was explored even more—another thing I had wished for the first film—but there were so many great scenes with them interacting that I enjoyed it. Loki is more of the comic relief in some respects, always ready with a quip or two, but if you like your Loki angsting and full of conflicting emotions, there’s some of that thrown in too. It doesn’t reach the same level of emotion as Thor battling Loki did in the first film, though there is a poignant scene about two-thirds of the way through that will hit your Thor/Loki buttons.

This was a fun action adventure with lots of witty lines and visual gags (Thor hanging up his hammer was truly inspired). They really nailed down the humor on this one. And they gave Darcy more to do, which is wonderful because she was a fan favorite. But it’s not without its flaws, and in some ways it felt too funny, like they decided to throw any attempt at being serious out the window. But when they did get serious, sometimes that was actually the worst part. SPOILER ALERT! DON’T READ BELOW IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS!

Okay, so you don’t mind spoilers, then? Good. The death of Frigga bothered me. It was classic fridging at its worst, killing off a female character to further the man-pain of the main male characters. Now, watching the man-pain was great. Thor, Odin, and Loki all brought their emotionally-compromised A-games, but was it really necessary to do that? Also, as much as I like the fact they’ve made Jane into a pretty cool character, she was essentially a plot device, a way to make the whole thing with Malekith personal to Thor (the same with Frigga’s death).

Thor-The-Dark-World--Thor holding hammer in mid-battleAnother thing that was off about this was the general feel of the Asgard/mythology scenes. When Kenneth Branagh directed the first one, there was a Shakespearean feel to it (unsurprisingly). It felt deeper and grander. There was less of that here, and it felt more like just your average over-scaled fantasy movie in scope. Also, the first one had a very personal story for Thor—he had to reclaim his honor and face the betrayal of his brother. In this one you could tell they were struggling to make the story affect Thor close to the heart (see above complaints about Frigga and Jane). Malekith is not a villain that we come to care about, no where near the level we cared about Loki. Christopher Eccleston did a great job with the part, but the threat of the Dark Elves felt rather weak, despite the amount of destruction they wreaked, because it lacked the same level of emotional connection that Loki-as-villain had for Thor in the first film. (But if you love Loki as the villain, then you will be begging for a third film after seeing what this one sets up.)

That said, I still really liked this movie. There’s a surprise cameo from one of Thor’s fellow Avengers that is hilarious and not expected, so no spoilers here. There are also two end-credits scenes, one halfway through and another at the very end. The second one is more like the end-credits scene in Iron Man 3, more funny and character-based than the plot-building ones we’re used to from the Phase One movies leading up to The Avengers. But the first end-credits scene gives a hint at the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy. It will probably be hard to understand the significance of the scene without a bit of comic book knowledge, but you get the general idea that this is SOMETHING IMPORTANT.

All in all a fun film, though not a perfect one. There were things that could/should have been done differently, but there were also things that I wouldn’t change for a thousand wishes. A good film, and one I’m definitely going to see again.