Movie Review: Thor: The Dark World

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After returning to Asgard and bringing peace to the nine realms, Thor must face a new threat to the universe that reunites him with Jane Foster and his brother Loki.

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Alan Taylor, 2013

This film expands the Thor universe, with more planets added to the three (Asgard, Earth, Jotunheim) that we encountered in the first Thor film. Asgard is bigger and brighter too, the shiny Rainbow Road and shiny golden Heimdall (Idris Elba) at the gates of a beautiful city that is the vangard of the nine realms and comes under attack not long into this film, driving “home” the truth of the danger that the characters find themselves in. Jane (Natalie Portman) and her intern Darcy (Kat Dennings, possibly the best part of this whole series) are investigating scientific anomalies in an abandoned building – objects disappearing and then reappearing somewhere else, gravity switching off – when Jane comes across an object of ancient evil and great power &etc. With Jane in danger, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) brings her to Asgard, inciting the interest of the Dark Elves. Led by Malekith, the Elves existed before the Nine Realms and were cast out by Odin’s father, and now they’re seeking revenge. With the help of his friends Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and the Warriors Three, Thor forms an uneasy alliance with his villainous adoptive brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to save the realms.

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I’m so angry about the casual racism and misogyny throughout this movie. Jane Foster is brave as shit, but she still gets damseled for a large portion of the movie. Hogun, or the Asian one of the Warriors Three, is dumped offscreen as early as the can manage so we don’t have to look at too many non-white faces, and the black bad guy is used as a sacrifice. I won’t spoil for the worst misogyny moment, but I groaned aloud in the cinema when it happened. Even the lovely and awesome Lady Sif is dragged into a concocted love triangle that she’s better than in order to legitimise her involvement in the story. It’s such a disappointment to see this kind of writing from Marvel, which really needs to give us a female hero movie, please, please, please. This is getting ridiculous. The Thor storyline has always been the most weakly defined in the Avengers wheelhouse, and it’s getting on more steady footing, but there are still some episodic storytelling problems. Thor is still a hero who isn’t all that clearly defined, and that struggle remains throughout this sequel – Thor’s hero’s journey isn’t the most interesting, and they struggle to provide him with a storyline as interesting as his brother’s. It’s no coincidence that the first shot after the prologue is one of Loki rather than our buff blond beefcake hero. Having watched the first Thor before this one, I feel like Kenneth Branagh had more of a clear vision in the aesthetics of his film than this one has, but the balance between Earth and Asgard is acheived more assuredly in this one; humanity is given more to do, and Team Science is still a lot of fun. Darcy and Dr. Selvig are great, and intern Ian was for the most part an enjoyable addition to the team.

The Marvel Studios: "Thor: The Dark World" And "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" - Comic-Con International 2013

Tom Hiddleston promoting The Dark World at Comic-Con. In costume. In character. In awesomeness.

There are some other good moments in the movie as well. Perhaps out of all the movies that feature the brothers, this film has the best exploration of the relationship between Thor and Loki. There’s funny backseat driving moments, heartwrenching moments, and moments of betrayal and distrust, all building to create a more complete picture of the complicated relationship which is the backbone of the films. Hiddles and Hemsworth give these scenes their all, providing plenty of charisma and a solid core for the rest of the cast to work around. Dropping Once Upon a Time’s Josh Dallas in favour of Zachary Levi as Fandral of the Warriors Three is an upgrade; he brings smirking charm to the role. The final, Portal-esque battle in London is inspired, creative fun. There’s plenty of humour and levity to contrast against the angst of the film, and there’s echoes of Star Wars in the kind of world-building they’re doing here. Christopher Eccleston’s baddie Malekith brings a kind of wounded beauty to the role, the evil Dark Elves interesting enough bad guys with a super cool language, even though we all know who the real foil is. There’s something too familiar about this movie, though – it’s Marvel via Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, space fantasy by the numbers when it could be so much more. Thanks to one little moment, I’m particularly looking forward to the next Captain America to provide that improvement I’m looking for.

Thor: The Dark World on IMDb

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