Twitter Plot Summary: Thor must help protect the 9 Realms from an invading army of Dark Elves intent on destroying the universe.
Director: Alan Taylor
Key Cast: Chris Hemsworth. Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Eccleston, Jaimie Alexander, Zachary Levi, Ray Stevenson, Idris Elba, Tadanobu Asano, Rene Russo, Adewale Akkinuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Stellen Skarsgard, Alice Krige
Five Point Summary:
1. Oh good, another MacGuffin.
2. Attack on Asgard – how dare they!
3. Loki does the inevitable.
4. Malekith – completely pointless villain.
5. Mid credits and post credits sequences. Don’t go anywhere. Well, if you’re into that.
I enjoyed the first Thor movie. Despite a few flaws it made a Norse God believable in the context of the Marvel cinematic universe, serving up an entertaining and mostly amusing tale of a God finding himself out of his element. Then we had the Avengers movie which had a heavy Thor/Loki influence so clearly those events would lead into this film.
After the obligatory intro that sets up our MacGuffin – a mysterious liquid thing called The Aether that has the power to destroy the universe – the warriors of Asgard fight against the Dark Elves who wish to plunge the universe into darkness. The Dark Elves are, naturally, defeated, but not before their leader Malekith (Eccleston) makes his escape and goes into hiding. Fast forward a few thousand years to Marvel’s present day and Jane Foster (Portman) begins investigating mysterious portals opening up in Greenwich of all places. Meanwhile, Loki’s locked up in chains after his involvement in the New York assault, and Thor has spent his time instilling peace across the nine realms, growing into his role as protector and displaying less of the cocky qualities that defined him in that first movie. The world itself has undergone a slight change – gone are the slightly unreal, golden vistas and replaced with a more lived-in, post-Game of Thrones style world. That should come as no surprise given that Alan Taylor has directed several episodes of that series.
Eccleston I fear is vastly underused. His is a mostly impotent villain, much less of a threat than his underling Kurse (Akinnuoye-Agbaje), who poses a serious risk to Thor and the whole of Asgard. Malekith by comparison gets to stare moodily into the distance and right at the end gets a tiny bit closer to being the villain that he needs to be, but instead is very much a wasted opportunity. Apparently he had some much meatier scenes when originally shot, but through the process of editing his character’s persona has been slowly wittled away. As far as the film’s narrative is concerned it works, but sadly to the extent that we don’t have much of a villain to root against.
Whilst The Dark World is enjoyable, it’s mostly because of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and the way he tackles his dialogue with glorious abandon. He’s allowed to have fun with it – Loki is the God of mischief after all. It’s also a slightly different relationship presented between him and Thor, to the point where both of their motivations are clear and they are not forgotten or simply ignored. Rather, they are used to drive the story forward and it makes a refreshing change for character toi be at the heart of it. There’s also a little more for Kat Dennings to do, and whilst amusing, Stellen Skarsgard is lumbered with the comic relief role. Don’t get me wrong, I like the humour as without it Thor would likely be a very boring character in a very boring film, but after the events of Avengers Assemble (to give it its UK title) it’s a shame that he’s reduced to wandering around the place without any trousers on. Natalie Portman similarly doesn’t get much to do other than run around the place and be threatened by bad guys. The romance angle with Thor is there, of course, but for the majority of the film she has very little to do. And Thor (Hemsworth) himself? He does a fine job, but has less room for manoeuvre compared to the likes of Loki. As mentioned previously, without the humour Thor would be very dull indeed, so at least he has that working to his advantage.
So ultimately it’s mixed bag – some very good parts marred by over reliance on a MacGuffin, characters being sidelined for a variety of reasons, and a villain that lacks oomph. With no disrespect to these characters, I would rather see Marvel finish with a third and final “solo” movie and then leave these characters to appear as cameos/team members as appropriate in future Marvel projects. Whilst the Marvel Cinematic Universe remains financially solvent however, I doubt this will be a likelihood.
Favourite scene: The attack on Asgard. Lots going on but you don’t lose any of the detail.
Quote: “There is nothing more reassuring than knowing that the world is crazier than you are.”
Silly Moment: It’s all inherently silly, but the rock creature at the beginning being defeated so easily.