Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Directed by Alan Taylor
Written by Christopher L. Yost and Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely

Marvel #8

Yet another sequel in the series without either giving a secondary character their own film, or introducing a new one to the franchise, but it’s a welcome return to Thor, a character that I’ve found to be one of the strongest of the ensemble to this point. Hemsworth’s performance as Thor is both strong and comedic, presenting a fun look at the life of a superhero. Also, Loki is one of the better villains to this point, without a doubt thanks to the greatness of Tom Hiddleston in the role as well. So an opportunity to spend more time in this world is welcome, just curious whether it will be able to get over the hurdle of the sequels to this point, after two rather disappointing Iron Man sequels. Another wrinkle with all the upcoming films will also be the post-Avengers landscape of the universe.

When the coming celestial event called the Convergence, wherein the nine realms align in a unique phenomenon, is near, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) falls through a portal while investigating them, landing in a foreign land wherein the Aether inhabits her, which awakens an old rivalry between the Asgardians and Dark Elves led by Malekith (Christopher Eccelston). In a desperate attempt to save both Jane and the universe, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) frees his evil brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to help him confront the dark elves and save the universe, as Malekith descends upon Earth to secure the Aether and and unleash it upon the nine realms.

I always find myself a little more confused in these outer space movies, including Thor and the Guardians movies. Weird names, different alien races, fantastical planets. It’s hard to keep up with everyone and who they are, what they’re doing, how they tie back in, etc. Not really a critique of the movie, but a personal observation of my own deficiency. But as to specifically this movie, there was a mixed bag. I had mentioned in my review of Thor that I wanted a little more of Heimdall (Elba), Dr. Selvig (Skarsgaard) and Darcy (Dennings), well with The Dark World I got my wish and I don’t regret it. Dennings adds a great element of comic relief, Skarsgaard is a talented actor, and Elba is just way too good to leave on the sidelines. The ensemble is really good here and a strength of not only this movie, but the series overall.

That being said, I felt Hemsworth was somewhat sidelined, even in the lead role. The narrative strapped him to a more dramatic turn, not allowing for the patented charm and comedy from the first. The story doesn’t play to Hemsworth’s strengths as well which is certainly a disappointment. The story is an interesting concept, but the execution falls short. The idea of the Aether and Convergence, and the nine realms aligning allows for a lot of interesting conversations about humanity, etc., but I felt most of it was squandered in favor of big sci fi landscapes and explosions. The finale in particular was a jumbled mess of a scene, something we’ve seen before with the lack of good action in the series. Not bad, just not good either.

It also bugged me a little bit that the whole concept hinged on Jane miraculously “contracting” the Aether. She happens to discover the perfect portal that takes her to a place that’s been hidden for the entire universe for forever. In conclusion, Thor is a character I’ve come to love, and was looking forward to another installment committed to his story. I still like the character himself quite a bit, but this is a film that doesn’t live up to Hemsworth or the potential of the character, especially when you add in Loki, who just might be the most layered and fascinating character in the entire franchise. The two get to team up here, but it’s not enough to overcome the mediocrity of the story.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

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