Thor: The Dark World (2013)
With multiple blockbuster films and now a popular television show under its banner, the Marvel Studios train is traveling at full speed and shows no signs of slowing down. After the phenomenal worldwide success of 2012’s The Avengers, the popular demi-God Thor is back with his second film where, this time, he battles to save Earth and all the nine realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself. In Thor’s newest outing, Thor: The Dark World, directed by Alan Taylor, the man responsible for several episodes of the popular Game of Thrones television show, the action is directed away from Earth and is more focused on the mystical world of Asgard.
Thor: The Dark World revolves around a species called the Dark Elves, whose pale complexion and stark features somewhat contradict their obsession with darkness. The Dark Elves, led by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) are intent on using a powerful energy source known as ‘Aether’ for their own wicked reasons during the forthcoming alignments of the nine realms, of which Earth is part of. As chance would have it, astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) happens to absorb the energy source, offering the perfect opportunity for Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the God of her dreams, to reconnect with his love while protecting her life. Now that all realms are in danger of being consumed by darkness, Thor must enlist the help numerous allies to save the galaxy including his imprisoned brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who’s animosity towards Thor may prove more than problematic for the pair.
With Kenneth Branagh, the director of the original Thor (2011) out of the picture, The Dark World is rather different tonally when compared to its predecessor, as this is a much darker and grimmer affair. The majority of the film can be slightly tedious for some, with characters focusing too much on scientific notions and mythical jargon making it difficult to follow the sometimes perplexing narrative while things happen too quickly and appear to be rushed; a sign that producers were hoping to keep the running time slightly under two hours. Where the first film derived its comedy from Thor’s fish-out-of-water scenario, this second outing plays it rather straight for the most part up until its final act where some much needed humor is injected into the picture, particularly when Thor and his mischievous brother Loki join forces to battle the Dark Elves; here elements from previous films, including The Avengers (2012) are brought together in an exiting, clever and often comical finale, leaving viewers craving for more.
As one would expect, this is an A-grade production with Marvel Studios sparing no expense on their lavish set pieces, top-notch special effects and fantastic costumes; character’s battle armor is a real highlight in terms of costume design with the Dark Elves’ combat masks resembling an unusual cross between a creepy porcelain doll and an alien. Every scene is flourishing with tremendous detail and imagination. Most of the performances are rather strong with Chris Hemsworth, Thor (2011), looking particularly comfortable in his body armor as the God of Thunder, while Natalie Portman, Black Swan (2010), appears to be going through the motions as Thor’s love interest, although her portrayal of Jane is fairly convincing given the film’s outlandish premise. Christopher Eccleston, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009), doesn’t have much to do as the Dark Elf Malekith and is quite forgettable when compared to other Marvel villains such as Red Skull or the Mandarin. Anthony Hopkins’, Hannibal (2001), performance is also somewhat questionable, as he seems to be shouting all his lines as if he were in some kind of a Shakespearian play. The real scene stealers here are Tom Hiddlestone, Thor (2011), who is clearly having too much fun playing Thor’s brother Loki the God of Mischief and Stellan Skarsgård, Good Will Hunting (1997), as the crazy professor Erik Selvig who evidently works better without his pants.
Producer Kevin Feige claimed that the picture went through several re-shoots late in post production in order to increase Loki’s screen time, while The Avengers director and Marvel Cinematic Universe overlord Joss Whedon was called in to do some work on the project too, all of which might have sounded awful at the time, but after seeing the finished product, were more than likely essential for the film’s success. The Avengers Phase Two seems to be shaping up particularly well thus far, with this second outing, Thor: The Dark World being a moderately exiting and fun popcorn flick matching, and slightly surpassing, most of the energy from its precursor, although the fantastic mid-credits scene which shows Benicio Del Toro, Traffic (2000), as the zany Collector who will appear in next year’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a sure sign that the best is perhaps yet to come.
3.5 / 5 – Great
Reviewed by Mr. Movie
Thor: The Dark World is released through Marvel Studios