Does Lightening Strike Twice?
11/8/2013 | Fernando Lyons
Thor: The Dark World is the sequel to the surprise hit of 2011, Thor, and is the second post-Avengers film from Marvel Studios (Iron Man 3 was released earlier this year). The anticipation and expectations for this movie were extrememely high, and based on the line of people and number of cars I saw in the theater parking lot of my local theater upon my exit, the movie will probably end up breaking a November box office record before its said and done. The million dollar question is, 'does the movie meet the high expectations placed on it?'
The movie starts like the prequel, with a prologue introducing the main antagonist, Malekith (the Accursed) and setting up the storyline. Malekith (Chris Eccleston), who is the leader of the Dark Elves, starts the movie engaged in a war with the troops of Asgard, led by Thor's grandfather, Bor. Malekith plans to unleash the power of a powerful and mysterious material called 'The Aether' upon the Nine Realms, sending the universe back into darkness. Malekith's plan is thwarted by the Asgardian forces, but he manages to escape by creating a diversion and sacrificing most of his own troops. The Aether is now in the hands of Bor, who quickly realizes that it cannot be destroyed. He decides to bury it where no one on the universe can find it...er...until (fast forward to present times) the 'Convegeance' (alignment) of the Nine Realms begins, causing interdimensional anomalies and opening portals between the realms. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is sucked into one of the portals pretty early in the movie, allowing her to happen upon The Aether. At this point, Malekith, and the remainder of his Dark Elves, reawaken from their centuries long slumber, to begin a quest to recapture The Aether. Needless to say, this brings him into direct conflict with our protagonist Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Did you get all of that? Good...let's move on.
Now that you know the plot, lets get into the good and bad. Lets start with the good. The action scenes are excellent throughout the movie. The battle sequences have a Game of Thrones feel, coutesy of Alan Taylor. His experience with the HBO series is definitely on full display throughout this movie. The battles were intense, gritty, and didn't have that choreographed, cartoony feeling to them, that is evident in a lot of superhero films. SPOILER ALERT: Thor even gets the Jamie Lannister treatment at one point (get it). As down and dirty as the action is, this is also one of the funniest Marvel movies to be released to this point. Darcy (Kat Dennings) brought her usual comic relief, and Thor's social awkwardness on Midgard (Earth) brought the usual laughs (Thor caught a subway to get back into a battle!), but Dr. Erik Selvig (Stallan Skargard), and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) have several laugh out loud moments. This is a significant departure from the serious and dry Dr. Selvik, and the devious Loki from the prequel. Selvick's newfound quirkiness is actually attributed to the psychological trauma caused by being under Loki's mind control (see The Avengers). Some of the returning characters were better fleshed out this time around. Heimdall (Idris Elba) has a little more personality this time around, and we get much better insight into Thor's mother, Frigga (Renee Russo), as she has more scenes and lines this time around. Not only is Frigga the wife of Odin and a loving mother, but we actually get to see that she is actually a pretty decent warrior. The most outstanding character in the movie is Loki, as he totally captivates the audience, during his scenes, and completely steals the show from the main antagonist Malekith, who is a little flat. Loki also has the most heart-felt moments in the movie, from his heart-to-heart discussions with his adopted family members (Frigga, Odin (Sir Anthony Hopkins), and Thor), to his eventual "sacrifice." In additon to the extreme action and gut-busting humor, there are a few lumpy throat moments in this movie, so expect to go on an emotional rollercoaster ride.
Time for the bad. The main antagonist in this movie is disappointingly flat. As portayed, Malekith has no personality, and his intentions are not well explained. I never really understood his motivation, therefore, I couldn't learn to hate him, nor could I take him seriously as a threat to the universe. As I eluded to earlier, he was completely upstaged in this movie by the antagonist from the first film, Loki. Similar to General Zod from the Man of Steel, Malekith was just a random bad guy, whom would drop by to cause a bit of destruction, then eventually be vanquished. Also, while this is a very good movie that surpasses its predecessor in almost every way, it doesn't quite reach epic status. There are a collection of very good scenes, but no real stand out moments that will have people talking for years. Unfortunately, like Iron Man 3, this movie appears to be a victim of the success of The Avengers, which may have raised the bar too high for any subsequent standalone Marvel character films to reach.
+ This movie is better than the original. There are great action sequences, a good amount of humor, and some touching moments throughout.
- The main villian is less than memorable, and there were no standout moments to separate this from any other post-Avenger superhero movie.
NOTE: There are TWO post-credit scenes.