Movie Review: Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Seen: In 3D at the Capitol Theatre in Arlington.

Thor is never something I’ve had Big Opinions about but I like all those Marvel movies so I go to see them, you know? This time around the big guy (Chris Hemsworth) is hanging out in space or whatever, fighting aliens and sucking up to his benevolent dictator dad and pining for his brilliant earthbound girlfriend, Jane (Natalie Portman). Through the wonders of science she discovers a portal to other worlds and accidentally absorbs a destructive energy that makes her a target for a host of evil elves led by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), who holds an old grudge against Asgard. Thor brings Jane to Asgard as Malekith is gearing up for war, planning to reclaim this mystery power from her. There’s lots of fighting and whizzing around in space. Also Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is really tortured.

This is the kind of movie that I know I enjoyed as I was watching it, it’s just mindless humor and action and I appreciated that about it. Just before heading out to the theater I’d received some bad news about my MA thesis and I was kind of freaking out, so a “shutting my brain off”-type of movie was actually just what I needed. In retrospect, while I don’t think it’s a bad film, Thor: The Dark World doesn’t really hold up as well upon further consideration. It just didn’t bring anything new to the table, aside from some interesting developments with Loki, so it’s ultimately forgettable. The general conflict isn’t particularly gripping, the character arcs are static, and the direction is competent but un-extraordinary. I liked that Jane Foster was given an important role in the overall plot, but she barely had any agency within that story so it wasn’t exactly satisfying.

There are some fun action scenes, but the final showdown felt anticlimactic. The best part was when Idris Elba single-handedly took down an enemy spaceship. Like, remember that? That was so awesome. But! Not enough Sif, she had one fight in the opening battle scene and then a couple of dramatic stares and that was it! Wtf? Also not enough Darcy, but I guess that’s just because I want to gaze at the drop-dead gorgeous Kat Dennings all day (though not enough to watch the uncomfortably racist Two Broke Girls). For me the major highlight was Loki. I’m not one of those people who is obsessed with his character, though I think Tom Hiddleston is a very good actor and has been so fun to watch in the role. But something about his broken-but-still-haughty demeanor and crafty personal revenge mission made me want the entire movie to be about him. He’s just more interesting than Thor, who is funnier and more compelling when working in a group as opposed to the title character. Admittedly, the film spread itself out among various characters but their many individual stories made the movie as a whole feel disjointed.

An enjoyable enough film, fun to a point and with a strong cast that makes up for the less-than-impressive direction and script. That’s about it I guess. Loved the Benecio Del Toro bit, though.


Pair This Movie With: I guess the first Thor makes the most sense, or The Avengers.

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