Movie Review: “Thor: The Dark World” – Quick and Messy

Written by Jesse Gelinas November 09, 2013

“Your world will be extinguished!”

With a slew of hero sequels in development – “Avengers 2”, Netflix producing four (yes, FOUR) live-action superhero series, and no end in sight, Marvel is about two steps away from ruling the planet. The sooner we learn to accept our new benevolent overlords, the easier the transition will be for us. Their next stepping stone to world domination is “Thor: The Dark World”, sequel to the 2011 film that saw the Asgardian hunk do battle with his evil adopted brother, Loki. While his comic counterpart may arguably be the strongest Avenger on record, Thor has been a bit of a weak link in the Marvel movie chain, and sadly, “The Dark World” doesn’t help very much.

“Thor: The Dark World” picks up shortly after the events of “The Avengers”. Loki is back in Asgard and thrown into the dungeons with the rest of the troublemakers. Thor is just finishing up a small war in another of the Nine Realms. Chaos abound as the Convergence approaches, which is a brief window when all the realms line up and the borders between realities blur. Enter Malekith, a Dark Elf from a forgotten age with plans to hurl the universe back into its dark and dreary beginnings where his kind thrives. Malekith needs a weapon called the Aether to do this, and what a coincidence, Thor’s main squeeze, Jane, just happens to stumble upon it, and let it stumble into her bloodstream.

 “There’s nothing more relaxing than realizing the world is crazier than you are.”

While I had hoped that “Thor: The Dark World” would improve on its mundane predecessor, it was apparently all for not. The sequel doesn’t allow itself to grow in any real ways. Sure, the stakes are universal in scope but the drama just feels so forced and just… not all there. We’re treated to a brief prologue explaining the entire plot, and from then on just asked to accept everything we see as happening because, well, it’s happening. Remember the stripped down, personal story told in “Iron Man 3” (which didn’t need a “dark” subtitle to make it deep)? Thor needed one of those. Instead, he has to single-handedly save this, and every other universe. Why? Where are the Avengers and SHIELD? Who knows? So the climax ends up being Thor trying to do a shot-for-shot recreation of the Avengers’ New York battle by himself. It’s as tedious as it sounds.

Tom Hiddleston returns as Loki in "Thor: The Dark World"

Oh hi, Loki.

Much of the problem can be blamed on the script. The writing is flimsy and messy. Every conversation hangs awkward and hinges on long bouts of exposition just to make sense of the paper-thin plot. Not to mention the humour that made “Iron Man” and “The Avengers” so entertaining is hurled at the audience with such ferocity, you barely have time to recover between each cringe worthy “joke” (Kat Dennings needs to stick to… not being in things). The acting suffers on all fronts from the weak writing. Even Christopher Eccleston (of “Doctor Who” fame) is totally wasted in his generic baddie role. I’ll always defend Hemsworth as a solid God of Thunder, but with the exception of the few supporting actors that are too powerful to let things like bad dialogue ruin their edge, everyone just sort of sleepwalks through the story. Let us take a moment to appreciate those who rise above: Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, and Stellan Skarsgard. The trifecta of cool.

“Trust my rage.”

One thing the films actually does well is blend its genres. Thor is a difficult character (with a difficult mythology) to present in an interesting way, but it is pulled off to a degree. The amalgamation of science-fiction and high fantasy mesh quite nicely. The Dark Elves take turns switching from Tolkien-esque villains, to high-tech space explorers, and you barely notice. Even when laser cannons start going off.

Malekith employs one of the lesser known regiments of Stormtroopers.

Malekith employs one of the lesser known regiments of Stormtroopers.

The effects are also kind of all over the place. At times they’re fantastic. Asgard looks wondrous and convincingly godly, and the Dark Elf ships are an imposing threat reminiscent of the Kubrick Monolith. There are more than a few times though when green screens are all too blatant, and characters are noticeably the only real thing on screen. It’s distracting at times, but doesn’t ruin anything.

All in all, “Thor: The Dark World” is not an improvement over its predecessor. It makes all the same mistakes, and a few new ones. It has its high points, but not a moment of it lives up to the higher echelon Marvel films like “Iron Man 3” or “The Avengers”. It does contain a terrific mid-credits stinger though, tying nicely to “Guardians of the Galaxy”. Sadly, it appears Thor will continue to be the weakest Avenger when it comes to quality films. I am, however, basing this solely off the fact that “The Winter Soldier” looks fantastic.

My Rating: 6/10

Theatrical poster for "Thor: The Dark World"

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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