Glen’s review of Thor: The Dark World: A McMovie for the Masses

The good news for Marvel fans is that there’s no end in sight for the company’s movie releases. Within the next couple years you’ll see Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers 2: Age of Ultron and Ant Man. But the same can’t be said for the actual quality of the films. The post-Avengers hangover started with Iron Man 3 and it seems to have carried over to Thor: The Dark World. It’s so easy to blame The Avengers for overshadowing all these ‘in-between’ projects, but it might just be that this installment concerning the hammer-wielding Asgardian is a bland endeavor all by itself.

The movie starts with a sequence that’s pure back story. We’ve seen this method used in the genre again and again. There has to be ways the writers could have incorporated the very straightforward introduction into the present day script. Enough with the preamble!

What’s the back story? Basically, a bad guy named Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), whose voice is the most interesting part of his character, wants to use a weapon called the Aether (a wispy, red cloud-like substance), to destroy the universe. However, Odin’s father, Bor, defeats Malekith and his evil dark elves in battle. Afterward, Bor hides the Aether in a stone column as Malekith escapes and goes into hibernation.

In the present day, the always entertaining Loki (Tom Hiddleston, great as usual) is imprisoned for his crimes against Earth. Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Lady Sif (Jaime Alexander) and the Warriors Three (Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano) celebrate after winning a battle in Vanaheim, and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) attempts to date when we all know she has tall, blond and handsome on her mind.

We then learn of a rare alignment of the Nine Realms called the Convergence, which is beginning with the random appearances of portals linking the worlds. Unfortunately, Foster and her annoying sidekick Darcy (Kat Dennings), come across one such portal which takes Foster to another world where she’s infected with the Aether; an event that awakens Malekith. Thor finds Foster and brings her back to Asgard to help with the infection and to protect her. Of course Malekith and his armies attack Asgard to capture Jane Foster in a less-than-thrilling action sequence, the type that seems to plague this series.

One of the shortcomings of the original Thor, was director Kenneth Branagh’s inability to put together a proper action sequence. The sequel’s director, Alan Taylor, does add some nice touches like Heimdall (Idris Elba) taking down a whole space ship by himself, or Thor and Malekith doing battle in and out of different locations via portals. We see them sliding down the egg-like building in London at one point, which is fantastic. Taylor brings a fluid feel to the action at certain points as opposed to Branagh’s frustratingly episodic sequences. Despite the minor upgrade, most of the action in the film amounts to noise, lots and lots of noise.

Thor himself seems lost in all this noise. There are plenty of ships and elves and magic clouds, but the main character seems to lack a voice among all the mayhem. He’s actually pretty boring, less sympathetic and almost humorless this time around. The fish-out-of-water gags in the first movie were priceless. There are a few in this installment, but they take up a combined six seconds of screen time (a great one involves him boarding a tube train). And the romance between Thor and Jane is still a shapeless jumble.

Loki’s one of the only great characters in this film and he’s locked up for the first half or so. Thankfully, circumstances become so dire that Thor is forced to seek the aid of his mischievous brother and releases the trickster from his cell. Only then does the movie become salvageable. Hiddleston nails this part as usual and keeps the other characters on their toes. You never know if he’s truly evil or is on his way to redemption. Regardless, his antagonistic exchanges with Thor are hilarious. They take the ‘odd couple’ routine to a new level.

It’s a shame that the filmmakers haven’t taken this franchise to a new level. Thor: The Dark World is a relatively entertaining experience, but it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. There’s a different locale in London, a different enemy in Malekith, a different McGuffin in the Aether, but a virtually identical experience. Add a dull plot and some clunky dialogue and this McMovie is about as generic as they come.

Grade: C

Check out Mark’s Thor review and Jaynesis’ review.

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Glen Ilnicki
Glen Ilnicki 271 posts

Glen has been reading comic books and playing video games his whole life. His unhealthy passion, however, is for film. He currently resides in Ottawa, Canada.