I’m just gonna be frank with you — “Thor: The Dark World” was just alright.
It’s pretty much accepted that the first “Thor” was the weakest film in the Marvel cinematic universe — the goofy Norse-god fish-out-of-water stylings of Chris Hemsworth balanced out the contrite love story he shared with Natalie Portman, and the downright glorious acting of Tom Hiddleston as the trickster Loki, even though the writing of the villain and his motivations were a little weak, to say the least.
As for the sequel, well, the lessons learned from the first movie clearly didn’t stick — what was wrong was still wrong…and probably worse.
The film’s opening is about as subtle as Thor’s hammer — exposition over a blank screen about Asgard’s ancient battle with vaguely motivated Dark Elves. Good guys win, elves die (mostly) and we move on to Natalie Portman.
From that point on, the plot is pretty simple. Because she couldn’t get enough of their poorly executed romance in the first movie, Portman’s character, Jane Foster, has spent the last two years searching for Thor, who’s been busy policing the 9 Realms since Loki’s mischief in the last film. Meanwhile, Jane, accompanied by the contextually infuriating Kat Dennings, has been using highly advanced super-scientific equipment to travel around the world hunting for that god guy she spent like three days with, and gets infected with this evil red mist called the Aether, and then the Dark Elves come after her, and Asgard, and they need Loki’s help, and…
Look, you get it. It’s not that unpredictable. And it’s not necessarily a bad plot — it was just poorly executed. Christopher Eccleston did an awesome job as the villain Malekith, but much of his backstory was cut and the writing didn’t give the character proper motivation. Natalie Portman’s acting was on par, but her character, defined once again by a weakly-exposited romance with Thor, left me wanting Hemsworth to just ditch her and get with that poor, friend-zoned Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander), who actually gets to kick some ass of her own. And much of the appeal of Hemsworth’s acting as Thor was lost — there was little room for funny god antics in the midst of all the elf-violence and Portman-in-danger.
Luckily, the movie still had Tom Hiddleston.
Hiddleston’s acting as Loki in both the first Thor and The Avengers left fanboys and girls alike screaming for more, and in “The Dark World,” he delivered. Taking a character that, at first, was little more than villainous comic relief, Hiddleston crafts, well, a god. His Loki is witty, spiteful, clever — an amalgamation of what a Norseman would expect and something truly unique. Like a cinematic Atlas, his performance carried the film.
Which, I must reiterate, “Thor: The Dark World” wasn’t exactly bad. It was pretty okay. Maybe even kind of good. But at the end of the day, it was weak — maybe the weakest Marvel film yet. Go see it, take it lightly, and enjoy it if you can — just hope that “Guardians of the Galaxy” will be better.
Oh, and trust me — stay all the way to the end of the credits.
ONLY RECOMMENDED IF: Enter this “Dark World” with low expectations, and you will most likely have a fun time with it.