aWarning! Massive spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk!
Thor: The Dark World is one of two Marvel Cinematic Universe movies that I had somehow failed to see, despite the fact that the first Thor movie is my second favorite MCU film to date. I finally watched it this weekend and quite enjoyed it, despite the fact that the writing and plot are mostly pretty lousy.
The movie starts out with a several minutes-long scene of voice-over exposition from Odin that tries way too hard to copy the opening minutes of Fellowship Of The Rings. Odin tells us of a great battle between Asgard and the Dark Elves, led by Malekith who basically hate the entire universe and want to destroy it. He attempted to use the film’s MacGuffin, the Aether to destroy the universe during a period the movie calls “convergence” in which the nine realms are aligned. Apparently this happens every few thousand years or so. The Asgardians stopped him and hid the Aether. Now, thousands of years later the point of convergence is once again near, and Thor’s girlfriend Jane Foster accidentally falls through a hole between realms and gets possessed by the Aether. Malekith and his people awaken and the story proceeds from there.
I’m going to launch into what I didn’t like about this movie first, but overall I did enjoy it, so just bear with me for a bit:
I hate it when movie plot points call for obvious questions from the audience. Malekith invades Asgard and Frigga hides Jane with some kind of hologram/illusion but then gets killed by Malekith in the ensuing fight. Why? Why can’t she protect herself with the same illusion? It just feels like the only reason why she got killed was so that Thor would get mad. Thor then defies his father and he and his buddies launch into a plan that involves sneaking off and fighting Malekith directly… which is the exact same scenario that got him banished from Asgard in the previous movie. Why have a character experience an entire movie of growth and development if he’s going to do the exact same thing in the sequel?
Too many illusions. They use the illusion trick way too much in this movie. There are tons of things that happen in this movie that are supposed to make the audience gasp. The problem is when you use the illusion trick so many times you stop falling for the trick. Did anyone really think Loki was dead or that Thor would spend the remainder of the franchise with one arm?
The way too coincidental cave. After the confrontation with Malekith and Loki’s “death”, Thor and Jane just happen to walk into the one cave on the whole planet that has a portal that leads directly back to Jane’s car on Earth. It’s the dumbest film coincidence since Kirk was stranded within walking distance of Spock on that moon in Star Trek.
*sigh* More ships crashing into cities. This is way beyond played out, Hollywood. Also, do we have to amp up the action/stakes a million percent in every sequel? And if you don’t call out the entire Avengers for this, when do you call them out? I mean, like The Avengers this movie featured an alien army invading Earth. Only this time the bad guy isn’t trying to subdue and rule Earth, he’s trying to destroy the entire universe! I think Thor could have used a little backup.
The ending seen with “the collector”. I know Marvel was trying to put in a tie to Guardians Of The Galaxy, but does it make any sense to give a super powerful weapon to a sketchy character who lives in the Marvel equivalent of Mos Eisley Spaceport?
Despite all that, I actually was entertained by this movie. I’d rank it in the lower half of MCU films, but it was enjoyable. Part of that is because I like the universe they’ve set up around Thor. The other part is that this movie is loaded with incredible actors. I actually don’t like Natalie Portman in this series. I don’t see why Thor’s so interested in her and they don’t have great chemistry. I think part of that is because her character is written pretty badly, but still. Nevertheless, Chris Hemsworth fits Thor well, and Anthony Hopkins and Tom Hiddleston are amazing as always. I’m a little more neutral on Christopher Eccleston. I love him as an actor, but they used so much vocal processing on his voice that it was hard to tell it was him. Zachary Levi did such a good job in his small role you might not even realize the part had been recast from the first film.
This is an ok movie. Definitely fun, but not a great work of cinema.