Thor: The Dark World is in my mind one of the tougher movies to make in the Marvel Universe. Heck, I thought it was a minor miracle that Director Kenneth Branagh made a half way decent first Thor film.
There is a reason for this. First, Thor is a strange character. He is semi-god, who comes from an alternate reality where Norse gods are real. Kind of hard to relate to any of that, isn’t it? Heck, how many of us really remember what the Norse gods stood for anyway?
In the comics, Thor is sometimes portrayed as God-like, but sometimes portrayed as half insane. Even more confusing.
But Branagh pulled it off the first time; the first film introduced a new generation to Thor’s world, and in an enjoyable manner. However, repeating a miracle is always a tough chore. Into that tough task comes ne Director Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones).
Compounding this is the fact that this all comes after the events of the Marvels Avengers movie. We say a galactic power invade Earth, only to be repelled by the power of Earth’s mightiest heroes. So what greater threat remains?
In this episode, we immediately are faced with another galactic threat: that of Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), leader of the Dark Elves, who wants to destroy the Nine Realms (governed now by King Odin, played by Anthony Hopkins). A millenia before, Malekith threatened to return the universe to darkness during a convergence of the Nine Realms. But Bor, Odin’s father, defeated Malekith, and banished all the Dark Elves to eternal slumber.
How Malekith brings back his power and tries to achieve his goals is convoluted, unscientific, and largely mystical. And this is where I am sure this movie will lose a lot of people And that is, at its very heart, the problem with Thor as a character. He is a magical character, not a realistic one, and his entire existence must simply be accepted on faith, as must the rest of his world. Some people can’t make this leap.
Furthermore, as a standalone movie, this is a terrible piece of moviemaking. If you haven’t seen Thor, or the Avengers, you might as well not even show up for this installment. They are all interconnected, and the value is significantly diminished if you aren’t totally invested in the entire Marvel Universe.
That doesn’t mean that this is a terrible movie. In fact, if you like Thor as a character, I think you will thoroughly enjoy this movie. The best scenes are between Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his recently imprisoned brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Much of the movie is about how Thor and Loki must find a way to trust one another again in order to save their world. Loki is the most entertaining character in the movie by far, and dominates every scene he is in. Only the scenes with between Thor and his female platonic companion Sif (Jaimie Alexander) can compare.
On the other hand, Malekith is a bore as a bad guy. Natalie Portman is a non-essential part of the scenery, and you wonder at points why Thor would bother with such a lame mortal.
The battle scenes are brutal and more interesting, as we see the true force and power of Asgardians and their enemies, and Thor wielding Mjolnir. Asgard itself gets much more time on screen, which true fans will love.
Overall, this is a mediocre film. If you are a fan of the Marvel Universe, especially of Thor and Loki, you will definitely enjoy it. If you are not a major fan, you would be best served skipping this until some later date.