Directed by Alan Taylor.
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgard, Christopher Eccleston, Jamie Alexander, Ray Stevenson, Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje with Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins.
PG-13, 112 minutes.
I find it difficult to do something similar with this write-up to what I did with Iron Man 3. I have written about this movie in the past, but there’s not as much to latch onto here for a second go-around as there was in Iron Man 3. Simply put, Thor: The Dark World isn’t very interesting. In fact, I find it astounding how little of this movie I remembered when I put it on to watch for a second time. Sure, there are clever set pieces here and there, but it gives off the notion that there might not be more to its hero than learning humility (in the first Thor) or fighting alongside Earth’s mightiest heroes.
After the ambitious, yet unfortunately underwhelming, character journey undertaken by Tony Stark, it shouldn’t have been out of the cards to do something similar with the God of Thunder for his own post-Avengers sequel. That’s not what we got. Instead, Thor: The Dark World is a briskly plotted yet inconsequential affair, one that’s not trying to do anything too much beyond giving us another intergalactic adventure to kill time for the next Avengers film. This is fine, really, it’s just nothing special.
The film has Thor (Chris Hemsworth) just finishing up the fight to restore peace in the nine realms. When Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) discovers physical manifestations on an impending astrological event known as The Convergence and is infected with a red beam of light, Thor takes her to Asgard to get to the bottom of things. Trouble ensues, as the red light calls forth the evil Dark Elves to Asgard. When the fight proves to be too much for Thor to handle, he calls upon the least likely person to help, the imprisoned Loki (Tom Hiddleston).
Even by fantasy standards, the plot is pure gibberish. This much can be assured by the fact that they feel the need to explain what this so-called Convergence is every half-hour and it doesn’t make much sense each time they do it. This Convergence, apparently, brings all the planets in alignment and gravity shifts become pronounced as a result. I can’t fault them for having this be a feature, as it leads to a pretty fun action sequence at the end, surprising considering Marvel’s tendency to deliver underwhelming finales. Having said that, it’s a pretty flimsy excuse to pin an entire movie around, and it all amounts to setting up a device for a future movie.
We get more Asgard in this movie, and, thankfully, it looks less sterile. More like a place where people live rather than a golden-tinged, computer generated landscape. Despite this, the large portions of the film when we’re in Asgard aren’t very interesting at all. We only go there during plot detours or to set up a means to get Thor and Loki back together, and the movie doesn’t really pick up until after they escape from it. But, perhaps that has more to do with Loki getting in on the action, easily the most interesting character played by an actor who clearly has fun coming back for more.
Speaking of interesting characters, our villain in this film is not one. Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) has the most broad-strokes scheme there is, to destroy the world. Sorry, plunge it back into darkness, or whatever. That’s what he’s about and that’s what he’s here to do, nothing more.
Taking a cue from some of the other movies in this series, where having a sense of humor is a necessity to punch up the proceedings, The Dark World overloads itself with wacky antics to the point where what’s meant to be serious becomes even more ridiculous. How are we supposed to adequately feel the emotion behind some of the death scenes that occur (real or supposed) when it’s alongside scenes like Stellan Skarsgard running around Stonehenge naked as a wild and crazy old scientist? It never strikes the right balance to work as the piece of pop-entertainment it wants to be.
There is a certain arena, actually, in which I’ll give this film a lot of props, and it’s with the runtime. While above I’m showing the full runtime plus credits, the film proper ends just north of the one-hundred minute mark, hitting the perfect length for a piece of fluff like this. It may not be entirely memorable, but at least it doesn’t waste our time, either.
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