"Thor: The Dark World" (2013)

Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Running time: 112 minutes

So, Phase 2 of Marvel’s ultimate movie plans continues with Thor: The Dark World, the second outing of everyone’s favourite Norse deity/alien Thor. As some of you may remember, I was a little disappointed with Iron Man 3 in regards to its handling of The Avengers in relation to events unfolding onscreen. The film itself was entertaining and compelling enough, but now that we had finally reached The Avengers after FIVE long years of build up, to go ahead and essentially ignore it was a huge pitfall. But at least the main points of the film were up to scratch.

Thor: The Dark World on the other hand was quite the opposite!

Now Showing this week is Thor: The Dark World, directed by Alan Taylor. After arresting his sort-of-brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) for his attempted enslavement of Earth in Avengers, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has been battling his way across the other realms quashing those who took inspiration from Loki’s efforts and are attacking other worlds. Meanwhile, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) has been scouring the Earth looking for a sign that Thor will return to her after years of his absence. One such sign comes in the form of an area of London in which physical anomalies are occurring, and during her investigation of said area, Jane inadvertently finds herself passing through a gateway to a hidden realm that is hiding a powerful stone called the Aether. Her presence wakes this power from its hibernation, as well as revives a small army of Dark Elves many realms away. Lead by Malekith (Christopher Eccelston), the Elves go on the war path to regain this stone with the intention of using it to destroy the universe.

I must say, as we get further and further into the Marvel movies, the story-lines are becoming more and more like the crazy comic book stories of the source material. We began with a billionaire weapons manufacturer being transformed by being kidnapped by terrorists in the Middle East, and we’ve now arrived at interstellar space elves coming to destroy the world. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t so much of a complaint as it is an observation. It seems to me that Marvel are now so sure of their success that they feel they don’t need to tone down the “comic-book-iness” of these characters and their stories. And that’s all well and good by me, but I just think it means they may have to work harder to make us take these films more seriously. But then again, The Avengers had a premise that I find is equally as “comic-booky” as Thor: The Dark World and I found it to be the greatest thing ever, so I can’t quite put my finger on precisely what it is that differentiated them for me. But damn it, I’m going to try!

The first thing that springs to mind is the script. I won’t beat around the bush: there were parts of Thor: The Dark World‘s script that were just terrible. There were so many simple, boring lines of dialogue that were often also shockingly delivered in a dreadful, hammy, monotone. Let me put it this way: I outwardly groaned on several occasions. This dull trend continued in the main story of the film as well; it just wasn’t very interesting. The Dark Elves are established as an old enemy of Asgard that were defeated the previous time their leader Malekith tried to use the Aether to destroy the universe; and now they have reawakened from some kind of stasis to find it and to again try to do the same. And Malekith and his army wish to do this because…that’s what Dark Elves do? They were jealous of all the glorious Asgardian beards? I don’t know, I’m just making stuff up here, but the movie gives no real motivations for the villain of the film to be doing anything he is doing. And that is a real shame, because Christopher Eccelston is a great actor, and his physical and vocal presence in this film was excellent; but his character was just so uninspiring.

The story of Thor: The Dark World was littered with uninspiring elements. There was an establishment of a potential love triangle between Thor, Jane and Sif (one of Thor’s close warrior friends) that is then just dropped and never mentioned again. The previously mentioned antagonists of the film were just uninteresting and were merely there so as Thor had something to punch when he wasn’t dealing with Loki. In fact, the only parts of the film that I found were truly interesting were the scenes involving Loki and him having to answer for his actions in The Avengers. His complete hatred for his “family”, and his complete lack of remorse for what he has done was always fascinating to watch (largely in part to Hiddleston’s fantastic, villainous charm). He was definitely a highlight of the film.

I spoke at the beginning of this post about how Thor: The Dark World was the opposite of Iron Man 3, and it was in this manner that I was referring to. Iron Man 3 was all its own (relatively decent) story with The Avengers as an after thought. Thor: The Dark World on the other hand had some key moments that were heavily connected to The Avengers but its primary story was extremely weak. The interconnected movie moments were the best parts of Thor: The Dark World, because they not only delved a little further into an established story but many of them are pushing us forwards in what is teased to be an epic story. In fact, for me, my favourite part of the film was the trademarked mid-credits scene that these Marvel films are known for. Why? Because unlike Iron Man 3‘s credits scene, which simply had an amusing summation of the film (not that that’s a bad thing!), Thor: The Dark World‘s makes at least some of what we saw happen in the film relevant to what is to come! My favourite thing about all the previous Marvel films was the way it felt like they were all putting pieces of a puzzle together in the build up to something huge. They were usually decent films, nothing to win Oscars over (and even some of them don’t deserve that either!), but the way each one was bringing new elements into the eventual Avengers film was a thrilling experience. I didn’t get that feeling from Iron Man 3 but I did from Thor: The Dark World, so that is something at least.

But in the end, I did not hate the experience of seeing Thor: The Dark World. Yes, the script was average and yes the story-line wasn’t the most compelling. But the central characters are entertaining, particularly Loki; the action-scenes are amazing (there is an intergalactic one that was a favourite of mine!) and the signposts for things to come were awesome. Particularly that mid-credits one, make sure you don’t leave the cinema until you see it! I want to say that I’m keen for Captain America: The Winter Soldier next year, but I was never a huge Captain America fan and I suspect it may also suffer from illogically not calling in the other Avengers to help out. So instead, I’m excited for Guardians of the Galaxy, because it will be introducing new characters (and therefore not hindered with needing/forgetting to acknowledge other events) and that these new characters directly relate to Thanos the Mad Titan. Oh yeah, get excited!

See you next time!

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