After the mind-blowing superhero mash-up, destroying half of New York, brought about by Avengers Assemble, it seemed inevitable for Marvel’s subsequent efforts for furthering their characters’ individual arcs to be dwarfed by the now-prevailing questions “Where are The Avengers? Why is one superhero facing threats alone instead of calling on his new pals?” Iron Man 3 attempted to make sense in this regard by playing on the “It’s not a superhero thing, it’s an American anti-terrorist patriotic thing” card. Plus, The Hulk was there (if you stayed for the post-credits cameo), Thor’s absence was excused due to his living arrangements in another realm, S.H.I.E.L.D. was getting busy with Joss Whedon’s new series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Captain America – well, not one of Tony Stark’s favourites. All in all, Iron Man’s third solo outing handled the Marvel’s post-Avengers universe beautifully, and now the time has come for Thor to return to the big screen with a bang (and some thunder, of course).
Just like Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World utilizes its unique elements to justify the lack of The Avengers’ team-up thrills. The message in this case seems to be “It’s not a superhero thing, it’s an inter-realm mythical-creatures part-magic-part-sci-fi thing”. Indeed, for a superhero movie, Thor’s sequel appears oddly lacking in superhero elements – thematically and visually (since most of the action takes place in Asgard and other realms), it appears closer to the likes of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings than the usual superhero films. Thus, our hammer-yielding hero is burdened with saving the universe/the galaxy/the Nine Realms, rather than merely a city/humanity/Earth. This, of course, must have been a welcome turn of events for director Alan Taylor and his Game of Thrones-inherited vision and taste for epic showdowns between two opposing armies – the villains (may they be White Walkers or Dark Elves) and the heroes (may they be the Night’s Watch or Asgard’s troops of demi-gods). It certainly is Mr. Alan ‘Game of Thrones’ Taylor who introduces the “Dark World” in a film that otherwise lights up pretty quickly. He throws the imagery-darkening ingredients like dirt, ashes, and grim skies in a cocktail with the emotionally-darkening elements of loss, pain and regret, but the end result is still as bright as our golden-haired protagonist. An array of jokes, Marvel-universe humorous references (look out for great cameos) and hilarious one-liners from Tom Hiddleston’s mischievous and witty Loki, Kat Denning’s borderline potty mouth physicist Darcy, and even Chris Hemsworth solemn demi-god (who takes the London Tube) disperses the darkness in favour of a relatively light-hearted dose of blockbuster fun.
Nevertheless, for its eye-popping visuals, truly amusing moments, and seriously entertaining final result, Thor: The Dark World has one fatal flaw: the overly simplistic in their function, lacking development or proper introduction characters. For one, Chris Hemsworth sometimes appears like a supporting character in his own story, Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster barely gets the chance to rise over her damsel in distress purpose, and Christopher Eccleston’s Malekith can hardly be seen as anything more than a standard baddie, struggling to fill the shoes of an ambiguous multi-layered villain like Loki. It is indeed Tom Hiddleston’s anti-hero who steals the show here, both when it comes to fun and games, and to emotional depth. Still, it is hard to imagine anyone, but Chris Hemsworth taking up the hammer, red cape and solemn vocabulary without being labelled ridiculous; and as generic as Malekith might be as the Big Bad, there is something truly menacing in his 6-hours-per-day worth of make-up and prosthetics disguise and his ancient evil know-how demeanour.
In a somehow chaotic manner, Thor: The Dark World jumps from epic battles to comic relief to issues of belonging and estrangement faster than the speed of…well, lightning, or at least – thunder. Still, all things considered, Odin’s son second solo appearance offers a smoother, quicker-to-the-punch, more ambitious story than its predecessor. In the end, the fragmented elements do add up to a tremendous portion of fun, which shows that although heavy is the hammer of a demi-god, Chris Hemsworth seems worthy of it, and I, for one, am looking forward to the next time he picks it up.
4/5 Marvelous points
I haven’t written a review in ages, but it took the new Thor movie to get me back in the game 🙂
Maybe the effect of attending the premiere in London and seeing the entire cast on the red carpet, with Chris Hemsworth walking right up to us and saying: “How are you doing?” 😀