Thor: The Dark World Review

THM_CoupleNo one can deny that Marvel is on top of the world right now, with seemingly every major studio set to follow in their footsteps and create a cohesive cinematic universe. With Marvel Studios finally free of the distribution agreement they had with Paramount involving The Avengers and Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World presents a brand new start (and a brand new intro) for the studio.

It wasn’t a great start for Marvel’s first independent film though as there were a few pre-production problems with the film. Most notable of them all was the exit of Monster director Patty Jenkins due to “creative differences” and Natalie Portman’s criticism of Marvel for letting Jenkins leave the project and her hesitation on returning. With all the pre-production issues, does Thor: The Dark World present Marvel’s first big blunder to their clean track record? Despite all of the issues, Thor: The Dark World is an entertaining film that delivers on the humor, drama, and action.

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Thor: The Dark World sees Thor fighting to restore order across the cosmos, but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. To defeat an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor sets upon his most dangerous and personal journey yet, forced into an alliance with Loki to save not only his people and those he loves, but our universe itself.

With Kenneth Branagh deciding to pass on the sequel, directorial duties fall upon Game of Thrones director Alan Taylor. Unlike the clean and plastic look of its predecessor, Alan Taylor brings a very grounded approach to Thor: The Dark World. The biggest trait that Alan Taylor brought to the film is the way the film takes the high fantasy elements of Thor and transform it into a film that is human, gritty and real. From the locations, the vast, large exterior sets, the costumes, hair and makeup, to the armor, weapons, special and visual effects, all have been crafted to give a worn, historical, weathered and grounded look to the film.

Much like Westeros, Taylor has enriched and expanded the Thor universe by showcasing four of the Nine Realms (Asgard, Svartalfheim, Midgard and Vanaheim). By doing this, he has seemingly blurred the line between science fiction and fantasy. Asgard doesn’t look like a set piece anymore, but a place among the cosmos that actually seems populated. So for those who criticized that Thor spent too much time on Earth can rest easy, as much of the film is set in Asgard.

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Much of the criticism of Thor: The Dark World comes from a large amount of humor in the film, which is something that needs to be there. After all, Joss Whedon’s mantra “Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke,” was something that completely worked in The Avengers and completely works here as well.

Thor: The Dark World would’ve been a dark (no pun intended) and depressing film without the humor. While that kind of film worked in The Dark Knight Trilogy, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll work in this type of genre-mashing film. The addition of the comedy gives Thor: The Dark World the right balance between humor and drama, and that balance equals a very entertaining film.

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The key (emphasis on key) cast members have all upped their game this time around. Chris Hemsworth, in just a few years, has grown as an actor and shows it fully here. Hemsworth has now embodied the role of Thor as Robert Downey, Jr. did with Iron Man. Although fans of Loki are excited to see their favorite god of mischief on screen again, Thor: The Dark World is largely Thor’s film. Though Loki doesn’t get as much screen time here, Tom Hiddleston makes do with what is given to him and makes the most of it. Amazingly, Hiddleston adds even more layers to the character in such a short amount of time. Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins were also wonderful in the film (despite both actors hesitation to return to the role).

Unfortunately, Doctor Who fans are going to be disappointed to see that Malekith doesn’t get much screen time here. An actor with a villainous voice such as Christopher Eccleston is greatly underutilized here. Malekith is used primarily as a catalyst to the overall plot, but he’s not given much to do. It is Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s Algrim/Kurse that feels more like the primary villain compared to Malekith. Unsurprisingly, Lady Sif and the Warrior Three (Fandral, Hogun and Volstagg) also get the shaft here. While the screen time given is very important to the progression of the plot, they are relegated to simply being the catalyst to the story.

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Despite its flaws, Thor: The Dark World is one of Marvel’s best single-character film since the first Iron Man. It could have been longer (it’s Marvel’s shortest film to date), but I’ll forgive the run time because the entertainment value of the movie was so high. This is the kind of film I would love to revisit again and again.

While Iron Man 3 was technically the first film in Phase 2, it felt more like an epilogue to The Avengers rather than a kick-off to Phase 2. Thor: The Dark World definitely feels like the first film in Phase 2 and is principally the connecting dynamic to both Avengers: Age of Ultron and Guardians of the Galaxy. Oh and by the way, that mid-credits scene is something to pay attention to, as it gives you a clue into the future of Phase 3 and beyond. Every line of dialogue is important, so if you hear people in the theater talking, politely tell them to be quiet. In short, GO WATCH THIS FILM!

Grade: A

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1427 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.