By Jeffrey Cook, Designer, @vcaptainamazing
Having just watched a premier screening, I am delighted to come away from the cinema to write a positive review. “Thor: the Dark World” is a spectacular special effects driven film, much of which is set in Asgard.
I was worried that including Loki yet again might become a little repetitive, but in this film he excels as a great character. I only hope they don’t overdue his presence in the Marvel Universe. Seriously, how many times can this guy come back from the dead?
There isn’t as much character development as the first film, and Thor’s friends are nowhere near as interesting as the Avengers. I guess they simply needed these characters to all remain as they were so as to keep continuity within the Marvel Universe.
Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Tom Hiddleston (Loki) and Anthony Hopkins (Odin) all do a good job. Hemsworth plays a more sensitive role than in the first Thor movie. He has a heart, but he also has a hammer he uses to smash his way to triumph. Hiddleston really makes you believe him. You don’t see a lot of his tricks coming even though you are looking for them.
Natalie Portman surprised me and not in a good way. Before seeing “Thor: the Dark World” I watched “V for Vendetta” where Natalie Portman does a fantastic job. When I watched her in “Thor” it was very noticeable that she was acting and reading her lines. I was disappointed in one of my favorite actresses.
The only other acting disappointment was by Kat Dennings (Darcy). She did a decent job, but the producers must of thought we thought her weirdness was funny in the first “Thor” because they overdid it in “Thor: The Dark World”.
Christopher Eccleston played a competent bad guy, although his intentions about what he was doing were still unclear. It’s simple to say he was insane and just wanted to kill everybody. But when a threat of that magnitude appears and planetary alignments are in effect, you expect half the universe to show up and take advantage of the situation or come looking to take the power for themselves. I expected to see the entire army of Asgard come help out at the end like they apparently have done in the past and not just Thor who appears there by mistake.
The armies of Asgard were noticeably lacking in firepower and weapons, even though they have an armory. This is very evident when an entire guard division brings knives to a laser-gun fight. Their turrets were the only defense they had against an aerial assault and those proved to be practically useless. You would expect them to be better prepared.
The healing powers of Thor, Jane and even a smashed alien spacecraft become a bit of a running joke as well. But at least they get hurt, even if it only takes them a scene to heal. And if smashing every column holding up a building is still not enough to take it down, I’m not sure what will be.
The armies of both the Dark Elves and whomever they are fighting at the beginning are very inconsistent. Sometimes they are some of the most skilled warriors you have seen, and sometimes they are running around stupid. I loved the battle scenes but found the inconsistency somewhat annoying.
The scientist with the miraculous plot-saving device is also a little hard to take in, especially when he creates a remote control for cosmic anomalies. This and Loki’s illusion power both serve as a convenient plot-saving devices at times. I’m willing to overlook these, but there’s no denying what they are.
Overall it’s an enjoyable superhero movie. You will want to watch it several times, and it’s a decent entry into the Marvel Universe.
P.S. Watch it in 2D; the 3D added little worth.
Jimmy Hall Life Writer @Jimmyrhall
“Iron Man 3” opened up a huge summer of blockbusters with its action, humor and superhero aesthetics that can only be found in a Disney Marvel movie. Although Robert Downey Jr. set a high bar for the Avengers Phase 2, somehow Chris Hemsworth and the “Thor” crew took it as a challenge.
2011’s “Thor” served as a launching pad for the title character. It was a simple story of a strong-headed demi-god who is humbled by mortality and love. Even though it wasn’t the strongest movie pre-Avengers, it was essential to know his origins and what Thor (Chris Hemsworth) values and why.
“Thor: the Dark World” begins a couple of years after the events of “The Avengers.” Thor is busy watching over the nine realms with his hammer, Mjolnir, and his might. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is imprisoned in Asgard for his failed attempt to enslave and rule the people of Earth.
To gain revenge and the state before time, Dark Elves, lead by Malkith (Christopher Eccleston), attempt to find the “aether,” which was hidden by Odin’s (Anthony Hopkins) father a millennia ago. Luckily, the aether finds its way into Thor’s love interest Jane Foster’s (Natalie Portman) veins. Simultaneously, Foster acts as the boon and damsel in distress.
Yes, the plot sounds ridiculous, but the way it is told is never overbearing or confusing. It slowly guides you from plot point to plot point by the hand which any viewer can appreciate.
The visual effects are the most stunning in most of the Marvel films. In a fully realized Asgard, the action sequences reflect a blend of “Lord of the Rings” and “Star Wars” prequels kinetic joy. Director Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones) handles fight scenes and fast paced aerial shots with care and cohesiveness.
There are many bait and switch moments which act as major plot devices, but you can’t really be upset about them because the movie makers tell you time after time to watch out for them. You can tell that the screenwriters (Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely) love and respect the source material and are having a blast with it.
No good superhero movie is without its humor, and “Dark World” is brimming with it. Some of the humor it is out of place and some doesn’t land right, but when it does it hits hard. You will walk out with countless “remember this part” moments with your friends to laugh about later. The humor doesn’t diminish the hard hitting drama when it delivers.
Where the movie truly shines is when Loki finally teams up with Thor. Hiddleston’s Loki brings charisma and tension to the screen to balance Thor’s stiffness with great ease. The two create remarkable sibling chemistry that only a guy with a brother can fully appreciate.
Marvel is only one of Disney’s powerhouses that turn out hit after hit, but it’s safe to say that they have overtaken Pixar as their safe moneymaker. In the last few years Pixar has lost its place as Disney’s favorite poster boy with their less than impressive “Brave,” and “Cars 2” movies.
In the last two summers, Marvel has released two huge hits that joined the billion dollar club: “The Avengers” and “Iron Man 3” and don’t seem to be letting up. As hard as it is to say: Marvel is the new Pixar.
Like most of the Avengers movies, “Dark World” furnishes the right mixture of CGI, compelling charaters, stakes, action, adventure, romance and geek fandom into a compressed package. If this is any indication of the Phase 2, then we have our expectations for April’s “Captain America: the Winter Soldier” sky high.