The 400-Word Review - Thor: The Dark World
By Sean Collier
November 11, 2013
Earlier in the year, we saw Marvel’s first attempt to decelerate from the over-the-top battle royale of The Avengers into single-hero features. Iron Man 3 dealt with its gargantuan predecessor by leaning on the charm and appeal of Robert Downey Jr.’s character; the plot left plenty to be desired, but the movie was a crowd-pleasing action romp.
It’s a good thing it came out before Thor: The Dark World.
Released at the outset of Oscar season rather than its early-summer homeland, The Dark World sees Alan Taylor take the reins from Thor director Kenneth Branagh. Branagh’s main contribution to the franchise, unsurprisingly, was to add Shakespearean gravitas to the mythology of the comic. That remains in The Dark World in slightly diluted form, though Taylor apes Joss Whedon’s Avengers much more directly than Branagh’s film.
Since his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) meddled unsuccessfully with Earth in Avengers, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has been busy cleaning up loose ends throughout the rest of the universe, while Loki has been imprisoned. Unfortunately, some old foes of Asgard (not explicitly addressed in any previous film that I’m aware of) have a weapon of incredible power — not the Tesseract, a different one — and plan to use it to reduce the universe to dark matter, or something.
Before Thor (Chris Hemsworth) can rush to the rescue, his Earthling girlfriend/astrophysicist Jane (Natalie Portman) somehow winds up getting tangled in this war of the computer-generated worlds, the slightly Borg-esque baddies invade Asgard and ... you know, I’d continue recounting the plot, but I might fall asleep.
Offering little for anyone besides dedicated fans of the comics, The Dark World is buried in its own mythology and self-seriousness. Once Loki becomes a bit more involved — no spoilers — things pick up, at least in humor, and the film’s climax isn’t without its charm.
Mostly, though, the film is plodding, with no intrigue. Hemsworth and Portman have no chemistry, just like before, and the constant attempts at wringing humor out of Jane’s underlings (Kat Dennings is the ringleader, Darcy) fall flat again. Anthony Hopkins was engaged as Odin in the original, but seems irritated that the sequel was picked up.
Ultimately, Thor — both the character and the actor — is charismatic and confident enough to hold his own amidst the Avengers ensemble. But neither can combat the fantasy morass that ways down The Dark World.
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark