Can You Imagine A Marvel Thor Movie Being Watchable Without Chris Hemsworth?
Two out of Four Dangers
(DL) — Thor scores a high Two out of five Dangers, almost breaking the sophomore sequel pitfall. It puts Thor’s debut characters back to work in a save the world storyline. The family dynamic of Loki and Thor continues without wearing itself out. Understanding these characters’ motivation and maturity between Thor, The Avengers, and now Thor: The Dark World becomes a sub-plot if not the real story.
After all, we know in superhero movies, there will always be outrageous threats to humanity, but how often do we get to follow the lives of characters we want to invest ourselves in? Before you become sold that Thor: The Dark World is more a drama in this description than it is an action blockbuster, also be advised it could be sold as a romantic comedy. Okay, this is a play on words.
There is of course the continuing romance of Thor and Jane Foster. That thread alone is not funny. What is funny is the entire movie. Aside from the opening prologue, there are sight gags, callbacks, and a litany of visuals, banter, and satirical innuendos throughout the film. Yes, even the fight scenes have occasional laughs. There’s even one last visual gag after the film (no spoiler!) The title of Thor: The Dark World is truly misleading. If there is any flaw to the story it’s that you enjoy it so much you don’t concern yourself with the threat. What you are getting is a comic book come to life. A genuine escape from reality that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
When it comes to the core Avenger characters, Marvel’s celluloid universe has become as cohesive and as deftly independent as the original sister print universe. Now if only Thor can avoid the final hurdle of director burnout in part three of superhero trilogies such as Spider-Man 3 and Ironman 3. There was even X-Men 3.
It’s A Marvel Movie. Watch It. But It’s Not Great
Where each started with energy, originality, and passion, the last installment in each case felt lifeless. Let’s just be happy that part two of Thor is a great ride free of false tension that perhaps is only oversold in the title. Thor: The Dark World. Neither the story nor the atmosphere is dark.
In today’s all-inclusive geek society, it could be sold as a date movie. Despite a few telegraphed comedic bits, the overall bounty satisfies. Action? Just right. The action scenes are played out with purpose, ebbing, and flowing between the build-ups. There is no major crescendo, so you don’t feel over-hyped. Thor: The Dark World isn’t oversold, and works just a perfectly as its monthly print comic book counterparts. This Thor fits in perfectly enabling him to dance as a solo act and a member of the Avengers.
Everything is improved on. From overall story to banter. Still, it seems a bit over-CGI. If you liked the first Thor, you can’t be let down here. Even Chris Hemsworth takes humanity and otherworld magnificence we were introduced to in the first Thor and confidently matures.
The MCU Timeline Thread
Our timeline is established as two years since The Avengers (2012). This isn’t immediately evident because, after the establishing fight scene, we cut to Loki’s fate for losing the battle of New York City. Odin (Anthony Hopkins) condemns him to life imprisonment. Who knows if someone at Marvel or if Josh Whedon stepped in and insisted on it, but someone made the genius move of keeping the character Loki involved to the point he’s almost over-used. While Chris Hemsworth is the embodiment of Thor, Tom Hiddleston as Loki has managed to make the ornery pain-in-the-ass, the borderline hated character of Loki a likable villain. Even more, Hiddleston has made the public want to see more of him as an actor on screen.
Loki’s sentencing on Asgard early misleads you until Thor’s long-distance lover Jane Foster, reprised by Natalie Portman lets on Thor has been away for over two years.
Thor’s Romance with Jane Lacks Chemistry
Hemsworth and Portman work okay, but no real sparks. Thor’s relationship with Jane is a solid subplot but should have been fleshed out better. He’s a God (of sorts) and despite being an astrophysicist, she’s a mortal that has done very little to justify his long-term attention, but it is nice to experience the sort of Prince Charming romance portrayed in their relationship. However when you think about it, he did leave for two years, she couldn’t have meant that much to him! Unfortunately, Jane spends a good part of the film is more of a damsel in distress than the resourceful thinking woman she was in the first installment of Thor (2011).
Thor Hates Cars
As for action, what is it Thor has against cars? Cars take an immeasurable amount of abuse in this film. You have a better chance of keeping count of victims in serial killer films than you do in Thor: The Dark World.
Then there is this humorous instance of one of the frost monsters being transported and subsequently stranded on earth to chase birds… Okay, this is sort of a spoiler but not. Just be on the lookout for this and you’ll chuckle as it plays out. This type of humor is common and keeps the entire film experience fun.
More Realms Without Depth
Thor: The Dark World introduces us to yet another one of the Realms. Meet the Dark Elves. A one-dimensional race as their name implies. Can we at some point get into the background and culture of all the new intergalactic races Marvel introduces us to?
Once a menace to Thor’s grandfather Bor, the last remaining Dark Elves lie in wait for a precious artifact to expose itself so they may once again take a crack at destroying everything. We get an establishing historic action scene serving as a prologue. Then we leap forward in time, two years since The Avengers assembled in New York. We find Thor’s love interest Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) becoming the catalyst for that sleeping enemy to arise and once tear Asgard apart.
What holds Thor: The Dark World back, is the fate of the world trope. We don’t get a regional battle, or a single foe to put in their place. It’s once again an alien race (Dark Elves) which have an inexplicable bug up its ass to destroy everything.
Can someone please explain why the motivation to attack another planet’s inhabitants exists at all?
It’s worn out and it makes any continuation after this cataclysmic save, impossible to follow up. The only next logical step in storytelling is Thor saves the galaxy or universe. Boring. The Dark Elves are in search of a catalyst known as Aether, conveniently hidden away by Thors Grandfather Bor in of all places, Midgard, a.k.a. Earth. While pining for Thor, Jane Foster’s scientific research leads her to the hidden Aether at which point the story shifts into high gear. Fun, humor, action, revenge, and romance all move a not too pace, allowing you to savor each bite. We even get a cameo of a fellow Avenger.
The bottom line is your Marvel movie library surrounding all the Avenger superheroes is becoming a big winner franchise. See it on the big screen and buy a copy for your home.
NOTE: There are TWO sets of credits with TWO bonus Easter egg scenes. No spoiler here.
Trivia: The Stonehenge scenes were in fact on location. The Kronan rock monster was originally fought in Journey Into Mystery #83, Thor’s first comic.
Cast: Thor / Chris Hemsworth, Jane Foster / Natalie Portman, Loki / Tom Hiddleston, Odin / Anthony Hopkins
Director: Alan TaylorWriter: Don Payne (Also wrote Thor, died during filming)
Runtime: 1 hour 52 min
Rated: PG 13