Having established his character in two separate movies – those being his own origin story and The Avengers – and both making a great sum of money, it was only inevitable that the God of Thunder would return in a feature-length sequel, along with the rest of his cohorts. As its title would suggest, this sophomore outing is much darker than those previous, in more ways than one.
In the months since he and his fellow superheroes saved Earth from destruction, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has continued to use his powers to protect the other Realms in his kingdom, Asgard from destruction. Due to his busy schedule, he has not been able to accept his position as King – a role still held by his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) – nor contact his human love-interest, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). She is currently doing research in London, trying to rebound from her short-lived relationship.
Not far from where Jane is, an abandoned warehouse is seeing the laws of physics being defied – lorries can effortlessly be lifted upward, people are able to float in mid-air, and objects are disappearing through wormholes. It is while experimenting with this area that Jane travels through one such wormhole, and becomes consumed by a dark matter known as Aether. In doing so, her actions awaken Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), a Dark Elf and evildoer who seeks to rule over the Nine Realms.
Unlike the first Thor movie, The Dark World spends the majority of its time away from Earth, which is a very welcome change indeed. Instead, much of the plot is spent on Thor’s home of Asgard, allowing for two things: more opportunities to admire how creative its world is, and even more banter between Thor and his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Yes, the God of Mischief is also prevalent in this picture, despite being imprisoned for his actions in The Avengers.
The Dark World is also funnier than the previous Thor – though only just. Frequent attempts at being humorous are made, many of which barely incite a chuckle; but on the occasion that a joke does land, it does get the laughs it deserves. With that said, Thor is in no way a light-hearted romp – as mentioned in the introduction, its material is quite dark and even depressing, more so than most other Marvel films. This reviewer would certainly not recommend letting young children watch this film.
And the film isn’t just dark in a metaphorical sense, but also a visual one. Images are fed to the audience through what looks to be a grey filter, providing the film with a grim and unappealing atmosphere. Why director Alan Taylor thought this was a good idea is anybody’s guess – perhaps it was a hangover from his time on TV’s Game of Thrones, or he took the movie’s title way too literally. (Apparently, Alan Taylor was a replacement for the picture’s first director, Patty Jenkins, a move which Marvel probably regrets by now.)
The final and most prominent issue with The Dark World is its script, which feels like a series of missed opportunities. Issues such as emotions getting in the way of actions, sacrifice and otherwise are glossed over rather than elaborated on, despite all being topics worthy of exploration – even if they’ve been done to death elsewhere. What’s more, the film has the chance to insert further conflict by having a love triangle on no less than three separate occasions, again missing all of them.
While far from a terrible experience, Thor: The Dark World is a definite low-point for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even with its likeable actors and characters, the film remains gloomy, poorly written and only marginally funnier than its predecessor. Should you ever see it, don’t expect to be blown away by its greatness. Or lack thereof.
This film was previously reviewed for YO Bendigo on November 19th, 2013.