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Thor: The Dark World – Movie Review

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Thor: The Dark World – Movie Review

Rating: B (Good)

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Since the release of Iron Man, Marvel has kept a consistent level of quality on their Cinematic Universe, making them connect in a fun way and delivering high-octane adventures featuring their beloved band of heroes (that they are allowed to use, anyway). Under Kenneth Branagh’s hand, Thor managed to transition to the screen in a fish-out-of-water comedy with Shakespearean undertones. Alan Taylor takes over the hammer, going in an even more dramatic direction with the Asgardian heroes and the further melding of their world and ours. He manages to lessen some of the more problematic moments of the previous chapter, thus resulting in a stronger sequel.

While the first film mainly focused on Thor’s comedic powerless hijinks in New Mexico, The Dark World appropriately allows the audience to explore more of Asgard and its incredible abilities and advances. Branagh mostly confined Asgard to grand halls, which tended to be a tad over-the-top in their execution. Taylor showcases more of Asgard’s locales, shifting from the golden palaces to the more low-key and populous streets. This expands the mythology that the team at Marvel have fashioned from classic Norse stories and it is great to see more of that world. Charles Wood and his production design team deserve a lot of credit for their fantastic attention to detail in bringing Asgard to the screen without it looking too ridiculous (though it’s admittedly hard to not think of the Mario Kart track, upon seeing the Rainbow Road). Thor’s comrades are also given a lot to do, with Idris Elba’s gatekeeper Heimdall allowed some truly spectacular moments to shine.

In the first Thor, the romance between the titular Norse god and scientist Jane Foster seemed to occur too quickly and merely because it was necessary rather than any major chemistry between the two of them. The Dark World immediately fixes this in their reunion as we sense the time spent apart has affected the both of them. Jane being infected by an evil force also ups the ante and Natalie Portman utilises her ability to enter into creepy mode to great effect. She effectively shows how outside of her element she is in Asgard. In many ways, the fish out of water situation has been reversed, though the screenplay does not delve into comedic escapades like its predecessor. Instead, most of the humour comes from Kat Dennings, whose character is even more pointless this time and given even less funny one-liners. Whenever it returns to Dennings (who is given a comic relief intern of her own), I was eagerly awaiting for the film to switch back to Asgard.

Somewhat unexpectedly, Thor’s adopted brother Loki has turned into a scene stealer. In his first screen appearance, he was a sympathetic figure and in The Avengers, he proved to be a very capable villain. Now, at his most comfortable in the role, Tom Hiddleston brings so much charm and likeability to the god of mischief. It’s understandable why Thor is so trusting of him, because he’s a villain who we somewhat find worth cheering for. Hiddleston displays a lot of cunning in his performance and definitely serves as an essential part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With Loki in the corner, it only makes the main antagonist in The Dark World that much more one-dimensional and basic by comparison. Malekith the Dark Elf’s plan to merely destroy the world is hardly explored with the main reasoning behind his evilness and eventual hatred for the Asgardians being fairly under-developed. Despite this, the stakes are still very high, even more-so than the climax in The Avengers.

Alan Taylor has an impressive eye for crafting incredible action sequences, even topping the great work directed by Kenneth Branagh. The Dark Elves’ raid through Asgard is spectacularly choreographed and edited, inching through almost every nook and cranny of the realm. Thor’s mother, who was mostly in the background in the first film, is given a very exciting fight of her own. The finale in Greenwich, which teleports the characters every which way, is also very entertaining. However, as with any successful action film, they are great because of characters worth caring about and not due to the amount of explosions on-screen. While the action was disappointing in Iron Man, it’s wonderful to see how much the Marvel films have improved in that department, though it will be difficult to surpass the New York City battle in The Avengers.

Phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was very good and it looks like Phase 2 continues to contain that mark of quality. With each new issue, the characters grow and the decision to have all of them connect adds further fun to these films. Seeing the mid and post-credits scenes are almost an event by themselves. With my favourite patriotic captain coming up next and a team that includes a machine gun-toting raccoon directly afterwards, it looks like the impressive streak of good films based on their comic book library will not be coming to an end anytime soon.

Review By: Stefan Ellison


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