The Marvel mold continues to churn out more content in anticipation of 2015’s Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. The next level is the second Thor movie building off the surprisingly successful first entry by Kenneth Branagh. This entry sees Thor (Chris Hemsworth) dealing with the aftermath of the events in The Avengers including bringing home his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who wreaked havoc on New York City. Not only that but new threat, Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) looks to enact vengeance on Asgard for some events that happened prior to even Odin’s reign.
The plot is pretty simple. Thor must deal with Malekith and his army of dark elves while also trying to keep his lover, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), safe from the harm that Malekith is also bringing to Earth. Hemsworth continue to be a strong Thor and has both the physical and acting prowess to make the character highly likable and fun. That being said, outside of Thor, I couldn’t find anyone else to really rally around. Thor’s buddies in Asgard seem fun but are never really addressed enough to get fully invested in them. Anthony Hopkins gives another commanding performance as Odin and his back and forths with Thor, while interesting, become very similar after a while.
The largest problem with this movie was the first half. Writers Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, and Stephen McFeely struggle to hold our attention for the first 45 minutes of the film with convoluted scenes of exposition about the dark elves and why they would attack Asgard, Jane Foster discovering traces of the dark elves on Earth, and Loki not being on the screen. Luckily for them, the second half picks up thanks in part to some skilled directing from Alan Taylor.
Taylor, who’s resume includes a recent stint on Game of Thrones, directs the action well and many of the battle scenes have a hint of Lord of the Rings or Star Wars amongst them. A big battle when the dark elves come to Asgard to attack the palace is very lively and showed off the skill Taylor has for directing mass scale. Ships are flying left and right, Thor is smashing things, and the intensity marks the movie’s turning point into becoming much more fun.
Another thing that helps the movie is the full-time return of Loki halfway through. It is amazing how great Hiddleston is in this role, arguably the best character in the Marvel universe right now. His return picks the movie up and makes it not only fun to watch for action but now contains a character who’s sarcastic humor and chemistry with Thor is worth watching.
One of the characters I had the most problem with was Portman’s Jane Foster. While I didn’t mind her in the first Thor, she seemed to be there only to have someone for Thor to kiss and to slowly move the plot along. While she is way more proactive in her attempts to help the hero than some female characters I have seen in Marvel movies (i.e. Peggy Carter in Captain America), she seems to not really have much personality and the chemistry just does not seem to be there between her and Hemsworth.
While it has its holes, Thor: The Dark World does end up being fun and I enjoyed it way more than Marvel’s earlier movie this year, Iron Man 3. It does improve upon the first movie and having so much time in Asgard is interesting and way more fun than just being on boring, ole Earth. Taylor’s direction along with Hiddleston and Hemsworth makes this worth the admission and a great post-credit scene sets up for even more superhero fun in the coming years.