Thor 2: The Dark World Review – Prepare to Squee!

Thanks to Skype, I had the chance to check out an early screening of Thor 2: The Dark World, directed by Alan Taylor.

thor-2-poster-2

Look at this 1980 movie poster with the woman all on the big strong man for support!

The film stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Stellan Skarsgård as Dr. Erik Selvig, Idris Elba as Heimdall, Kat Dennings as that intern girl, Jaimie Alexander as Sif, Rene Russo as Frigga, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, and sheesh this is a long sentence let’s end it with Christopher Eccleston as Malekith, the main baddie. As you can see, this is a star-studded cast, and I think they all worked great for their characters.

thor-the-dark-world-chris-hemsworth-natalie-portman

So, let’s get some things out of the way: I didn’t expect this movie to be very good. I enjoyed the first Thor immensely, but I also came into the first Thor knowing that it was going to have to find a balance between magic/silliness, and this obsession with realism that superhero movies have been all about lately. Personally, I’m a fan of deep fantasy, so Thor was one of my favorites out of the pre-Avengers films (the other was Captain America, a period piece).

It also doesn’t help when you hear that Joss Whedon was flown out to help at the last moment…that sounds like a bad movie is coming up, right?

WRONG! This movie was great fun, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Thor 2 had the right balance of fanservice, a fresh plot, awesome character interactions, and badass fight scenes. Was it perfect? No, but it was far closer than it had any right to be.

What I liked

Characters

Can I take a moment to say that it’s 2013 and I was watching a major movie and the main bad guy was a DAGGONE DARK ELF. Like, legitimate, looked just like the ones on the backs of my fantasy books. I couldn’t stop grinning.

Malekith

A lot of characters had slightly expanded roles this time around, and I was happy to see plenty of diversity in the characters. Heimdall got to show us once again what a badass he is, and he has one of the best scenes in the movie.

ElbaThorHeimdall

But by far, my favorite part of Thor 2: The Dark World is the character interactions. Loki and Thor are amazing together, Loki and his mother brought tears to my eyes, and Thor and Jane brought a rise to my blood pressure.

This movie is funny. Kat Dennings’s return was much deserved, and the film is full of lovely little moments of levity.

Visual Effects

Thor 2: The Dark World is gorgeous. I want to get this movie on DVD so I can pause it and stare at it. Even the closing credits are beautiful works of art.

thor2trailer-caps-8

The visual effects were one of my favorite parts of the movie, with fascinating Viking/steampunk/heavy metal ship designs, buildingscapes, and worlds. Heck, I even liked just watching how the machine parts interacted!

What I loathed

Plot

While I did love that my villain was a dark elf, I hated how boring he was. Anytime a villain’s only drive is the need to destroy, he becomes an un-interesting villain. In fact, at times, Malekith and his army seemed merely an excuse for us to get more Thor and Loki. I was never curious about what he would do next; I did not hate him or like him. He was just there, plodding towards his goal of destruction.

frigga

There was also the strangeness of Odin being so mean about everything. I mean, why make Thor go through all of that to be a good person and then yell at him for being a good and honorable person? Odin tries to do all of the things that he yelled at Thor for doing in the first movie!

Speaking of Thor, I hate to see how Thor’s friends are so helpless without him. We’re immediately shown them fighting to stop a two-year war, and then Thor walks in and just resolves it immediately. I call this the DragonBall Z problem. It’s like, why even have the Z Fighters? They don’t ever accomplish anything!

Doesn't she look badass? It's all for show.

Doesn’t she look badass? It’s all for show.

In general, the plot was not the greatest. But hey, this is a movie adaptation of a comic that’s story…is not the greatest. Suffice to say, it wasn’t a bad enough plot to truly hurt the movie.

Wardrobe

None of the main characters wore helmets. EVERYONE around them wore helmets, but no one who had a real role in the movie wore their helmet. It bugged the crap outta me.

Female Characters

Another issue I had was with the treatment of female characters. Now, this part is a spoiler, which I have clearly marked, so skip to FINAL VERDICT below to miss the spoiler.

BEGIN SPOILER

The female characters this time around leave a bit to be desired. Sif is immediately shown to be incompetent and jealous, though it’s never truly explored, another female character dies (for real) and no time is given to mourn her, and Jane herself plays a much more helpless Princess role than normal, with her veins holding the prize the villain seeks. Although she does help to defeat Malekith, it isn’t explained how the device she’s using actually works, and she kind of makes the fight more difficult for everyone.

Also, let’s come back around to that female death. In both Thor movies put together, a lot of men “die,” but at the last moment are revealed to be alive. When this woman dies, she is so dead that her body is set on fire. Her death was also clearly intended as an emotional lever, but none of the characters’ grief over her death was actually explored. It was even stated: “I’m not here to mourn with you, I need your help,” which was just incredibly callous and strange for that character to say.

I guess female characters aren’t cool enough to leave alive.

And back to Sif: really? A love triangle? Because every woman’s life needs to revolve around their love for a man. I KNOW that in mythology she’s his wife, and in the comics they date, but we don’t need her to be randomly jealous…she’s much cooler as a good friend.

END SPOILER

loki

Final Verdict

Score: A-

I know this is higher than most outlets are giving it, but I really enjoyed this movie. For anyone who loves fantasy and stories of great heroes, for anyone who loves the snippy interactions between Thor and Loki, for anyone who just likes watching hammers hit things: this movie is for you!

If you have a serious problem with sensical plot structures, this movie is not for you.

Just imagine: they could do this with Thor…how much more awesome is Winter Soldier going to be?!

And yes, there are two stingers at the end. You’re welcome.

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4 thoughts on “Thor 2: The Dark World Review – Prepare to Squee!

  1. Darcy, her intern and Selvig played the normally really annoying “we’re just normal(ish) people” superbly. Sometimes I was just more interested in them! And Heimdal is my hero, I’m glad they gave him a bigger role ❤

  2. Just saw the movie, and I’m happy to have re-read your post, now including the spoilery bits.

    I hadn’t noticed the lack of helms until you brought it up, but yeah, it would have been nice to see Thor in his winged helmet, and Loki in his awesome horned one at least for a little bit. I mean, when the first movie was made, I thought “there’s no way he’ll be wearing that stupid helmet from the comics.” But he did, and he pulled it off.

    But in general, and we see this in nearly everything, unless your name is Judge Dredd, the helmet gets lost in movies.

    I respect what you are saying about Malekith, but in general he’s typical of a Marvel villain representing a disastrous weather-event hazard. Like Galactus, who is just hungry, yo. In fact, I’m just as glad they didn’t put a lot of depth to him since I don’t think we’ll see him come back. Sometimes, I’m okay with bad guys being bad guys, like the Humongous in Road Warrior.

    I’m kind of not okay with the female death, especially based on other stuff we see near the end of the movie.

    I guess I’m okay with Team Asgard being extra ineffective. It did seem like the celestial realm of Asgard was a lot more badass when fighting the Svartalfs during Odin’s dad’s days. Sif did seem to fair a bit better than Volstagg (who is more comedy relief), and it was weird seeing Josh Dallas replaced with Zachary Levi as Fandral. My daughter is a big Once Upon a Time fan, and was hoping to see Prince Charming (but I was happy to see Chuck.)

    I’ll echo how great it was that Darcy (and Selvig) brought the humor. And Heimdal was simply the best.

    Thanks again for the great review.

  3. Pingback: Jacquel Rassenworth on Thor 2: The Dark World | The Jacquel Rassenworth Blog

  4. Sarah, thanks for the great review and isolating the spoiler. I’m hoping to take the family to see Thor II, and when we come back, I’ll re-read your review for the spoilery bits. And thanks for the heads up on the two extra scenes, I’ve seen elsewhere that they are mid and post credits.

    Thanks again and best regards.

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