Movie Review : Thor - The Dark World (2013)
Thor is to Marvel's Avengers what U-God is to iconic hip-hop collective Wu-Tang Clan: nobody really cares about him. Whether it's because his sexy Norse God physique makes him come off as a bro or because he's got his own damn centuries old, independent mythology, we'll never be sure, but Thor's never been anybody's go-to guy. That didn't prevent Disney from branding the shit out of the character and turning TWO freakin' movies that barely broke even. I saw Thor: The Dark World in vacation because Josie likes superheroes and we hadn't seen that one yet. While I didn't have any major qualms with the movie itself, it left wondering: what the fuck are we actually trying to accomplish here? I mean, aside from reaching into my wallet.
The story of Thor: The Dark World revolves around a rare cosmic event called the Convergence, which happens every 5,000 years or so. The nine realms of Yggdrasil (just click and read, really) align and the dimensional boundaries between them become real thin. Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), ruler of the Dark Elves, tried to destroy the universe last time it happened and was fortunately stopped by Odin's dad Bor. Now that the Convergence is happening again, Malekith is up to his old tricks. The only problem is that he needs a powerful weapon named aether to assert himself and Thor's love interest Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) happened to have stumbled upon it while accidently traveling through a Convergence point. So, guess who's going to have to fix everything with his hammer?
Thor: The Dark World is a competent movie that delivers everything you should expect from a Marvel adaptation and that's exactly the problem with it. It's the movie equivalent to your stable, yet unexciting accountant cousin who can't find love. It means well, yet it's visibly mass produced and a little unloved. The screenplay was written by 5 different people, which always is a giveaway that a movie isn't going to be great. The first Thor movie was directed by Kenneth Branagh, but Marvel chose television veteran Alan Taylor for Thor: The Dark World who was returning to cinema for the first time since the entertaining Palookaville in 1995. Lots of guys clocked in at the factory for that one and did exactly what their bosses asked. What I'm trying to say here is that Thor: The Dark World is safe and excitement free in every possible way.
Take Malekith for example. He's the embodiment of evil. The very second he appears on screen, the viewer is supposed to understand he's the bad guy because he got that grotesque elegance of Hollywoodian villains and he walks to ominous music. He's not a very profound character and yet his filmsy motivations are driving the plot. He causes a lot of wreckage trying to take over the Earth, which is the plot of every Marvel movie, except this time it's in a new locale: London. It's really all there is to Thor: The Dark World. Some bad guy is trying to take over and destroy everything. There's a lot more action happening in Asgard (Thor's world) than in the first movie, so that was cool although my untrained eye for comic book failed to see how it stood out from any other fantasy realm in contemporary cinema other than it had Norse mythology characters in it.
I'll give one thing to Thor: The Dark World. The Loki (ineffable heartthrob Tom Hiddleston) angle was interesting. Turning the bad guy into an anti-hero isn't exactly original. Pro wrestling's been delighting its crowds with this old trick for many years, but the family angle and Hiddleston's nuanced acting game carried his scenes with Chris Hemsworth. To be fair, the Shakespearean subplot of Thor: The Dark World was more fun than the movie itself. Anthony Hopkins' Odin has always been kind of a bloodthirsty asshole which makes it fun for the viewer to root for Loki to overthrow his ass. Loki's interesting in this movie because he's got the only interesting conflict: will he help the family that always singled him out and rejected him now that they desperately his help or will he use their helplessness as leverage for power? That part was cool.
Now that Marvel belongs to Disney, I don't see Thor becoming more interesting or pertinent of a superhero. His movies get produced because he's part of the Avengers and I have no doubt whatsoever they would drop his ass if they ever substitute him from the main franchise. Thor: The Dark World has a disposable bad guy, spectacular explosions, numerous fist fights, chaos, Tom Hiddleston , Natalie Portman and lots of other things people already liked before even watching it. Rotten Tomatoes has an aggregate score of 66% for it and it sounds about right. Thor: The Dark World looks great, is slickly delivered, yet it doesn't have much of a soul. It's just another disposable superhero movie. That makes me think, maybe I should watch Captain America: Civil War. Maybe THAT is different. Maybe THAT hasn't been formatted by Disney's sausage-making machine yet.