Can I make a confession? As a nerd, I feel kind of guilty saying this, but…I don’t love the first Thor film. I think Chris Hemsworth does a solid job as the title Norse god/superhero, and Tom Hiddleston, of course, absolutely eats up the role of Thor’s angsty, mischievous brother, Loki, but I feel that the film as a whole is very meh. So my first impression of Thor was not dazzling. However, after the epicness of The Avengers, I found myself very interested in the next chapter of the hero’s tale, and I was nearly giddy with excitement when it hit theaters and started getting generally positive reviews.
Of the four Avengers heroes (Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and The Hulk), I feel like Thor could be the trickiest to address. While the other three are simply enhanced humans, Thor is a nearly invincible being from another world—a fact that doesn’t necessarily make him easy to relate to. Maybe I don’t love the first Thor because of this (or maybe because he’s a macho jerk for a good majority of the film). But after last year’s Avengers film, I’ve grown quite fond of the golden-haired, hammer-wielding hero, and I’m happy to report that Thor: The Dark World has only increased my love.
Synopsis: “Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.” –Borrowed from my favorite movie site, IMDb.
The Good: TOM HIDDLESTON AS LOKI. He’s great in Thor, phenomenal in The Avengers, and absolutely at his peak in The Dark World. You can tell Hiddleston has a ridiculous amount of fun with villainous Loki, but I can’t give him all the credit because the script definitely makes a point to highlight the character. He’s behind some clever schemes, he’s comic relief, and he even shows a more vulnerable side—a side we don’t get to see much of in The Avengers. The evolution of his character is wonderful, and he’s left in a very intriguing position at the end of the film, begging the exciting question, “What next?” And Chris Hemsworth, of course, can’t go unmentioned. Hemsworth is not only physically perfect for the role (aka gorgeous and buff), but he handles a character that could be very stiff and over-the-top with a natural grace and charm that is so endearing. Scenes with Loki and Thor together are absolute gems. I also appreciate the fact that this film seems to embrace as much and maybe even more humor than its predecessor. It’s fairly rare that I laugh out loud during a film, but I found myself with a lot to laugh about here, particularly when Loki, Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård), or Darcy (Kat Dennings) were involved. On the flip side, the Dark Elves are wonderfully creepy, and Christopher Eccleston (whom I know and love as the Ninth Doctor on Doctor Who) is pretty solid as stone-cold leader Malekith. And as far as visuals go, they certainly aren’t shabby. Massive destruction, magical battles, beautiful views of Asgard, and the works. All in all, it’s a whole lot of sci-fi/fantasy fun. Favorite scene: Shortly after Thor pulls Loki out of prison to help with a plan, Loki has some good ol’ transformation fun and eventually changes himself into a favorite character from The Avengers. I won’t tell you who, but it’s awesome. The whole scene is hilarious.
The Bad: As a whole, the film works, but there are definitely things to nitpick. So much of the film, for example, is incredibly convenient. The planets just so happen to be in perfect alignment for the Dark Elves to destroy the universe? Mkay. Thor’s semi-girlfriend, Jane (Natalie Portman), just so happens to fall through a portal in space and absorb an evil force of destruction? Um…alright. Loki just so happens to know a secret passage to the Dark Elves’ world? Wait, what? How? Some plot points could do with a bit more explanation. I also wouldn’t mind knowing a more about the Dark Elves. They’re visually interesting and very creepy when they don their faceless masks, but they’re little more. However, the Elves aren’t the only ones to fall by the wayside. Very little is done with several seemingly important characters, including Sif (Jaimie Alexander), a lady warrior who clearly has eyes for Thor, and Frigga (Rene Russo), Thor’s mother. I would love to know more about these tough ladies, but alas—we learn only a tiny bit. Also, I’d like to point out that I hate what the film does with Thor’s father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins). The reigning ruler of Asgard, Odin teaches Thor to value every life and rule with wisdom in the first film. But in this film, Odin becomes stubborn, bloodthirsty, and kind of stupid. Disappointing for Thor and for us. Least favorite scene: To take down the Dark Elves, Thor suggests a clever plan that risks the lives of only a small number of individuals. Odin says that he’d rather waste the lives of pretty much everyone in Asgard. Like…really?
To Sum It Up: This film has its flaws, and it certainly doesn’t surpass The Avengers in greatness, but I think it might be the best solo Marvel film since the first Iron Man. Not only does it seem to be on a more epic scale than the first Thor, but it has a killer sense of humor and some great scenes between Thor and Loki to boot. If you’re a fan of the Marvel franchise or a sci-fi/fantasy lover in general, this is a must-see.
My Grade: A-