At this point in the development of Marvel's movie empire, it doesn't really matter a whole lot whether Thor: The Dark World is actually a good movie. If the multi-pronged Avengers movies haven't captured you, there probably isn't any reason to see the newest entry. If it has, you're going to end up seeing this one regardless just to make sure you understand the references in other movies that come out. For example, I'll have to see the next Captain America movie even though I didn't much care for the first one.
Fortunately, if nothing else, Thor: The Dark World is fun. It doesn't make much sense--some elves who predate the universe are going to destroy it during a once-every-5000 years mystical realm alignment using some wispy goo--but the tone remains light and fluffy. It doesn't fit in with the general Earth-bound plots of these movies so far, perhaps 20 minutes of the movie takes place on Earth with the rest in computer-generated planetscapes. After two Thor movies, I honestly have no idea what the general rules are on the mortality of Asgardians. Stab one through the abdomen and immediate death. Drop a building on another and all you get is an angry scowl and a sexy bit of blood at the eyebrow.
When considered carefully, it is hard to imagine how it is reasonable for Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Hulk to all exist in the same universe, since none of them seem to live within the same physical rules.
But. It's fun. There is no real depth of heart in Thor: The Dark World as whatever emotional themes are touched upon are thrown to the ground and beaten to death with a blunt stick. Counteracting that is the humor and action finding a balance of ernest irony (though such a thing shouldn't be possible), that keeps you chuckling along a scattershot journey building up to a return to Earth for one climatic battle. And that battle pays of with visual spectacle that, again, makes no sense but is enjoyably ridiculous.
Also, it allows me to use this sentence: This movie has a confused hammer. I just did a search on Google and Google books, and it appears that sentence has never before been written down. That right there is cinematic innovation of the highest order.
If the recent trend towards dark comic book movies has turned you off from old-fashioned fluff, you may have problems with this one, as there's hardly a serious tone in it (though it reaches for one in the middle). So go in for good lines from Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings). Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) get some good lines, too, while Heimdall (Idris Elba) and Odin (Anthony Hopkins) bring their intesnity to the serious dialog. The ony one who never really gets a moment to shine is Natalie Portman as Jane Foster. This time around, her character is as bland and uninteresting as her name and only seems to exist so Thor has a reason to return to Earth. Maybe in Thor 3, she'll get to do something again.
As should be clear from this review, I have no articulable reason for why I enjoyed the movie as much as I did, and I suspect if I put any effort into thinking about the movie a week after seeing it, I could easily talk myself out of that. Sometimes, though, one gets by just on charisma and bravado.
Note: As always with these Marvel movies, unless you're already bored, you'll want to stay through the all credits. Yes, to the very end; the extra scene in the middle of the credits (personally I have no idea what was implied by that one but others in the crowd, who presumably know the comics, were quite excited) is not the end of it.
- Thor: The Dark World is a Marvel Studios release.
- Wide theatrical release on Friday, November 8, 2013
- Directed by Alan Taylor
- Written by Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
- Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Christopher Eccleston, Anthony Hopkins
- Running time: 112 minutes
- Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content
- Alex's rating: 7 out of 10