Thor: The Dark World

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It’s always awkward meeting your new love interest’s family.  When his father is racist and his brother is a narcissistic psychopath, it’s even more so.

After the epicosity of The Avengers, it’s been interesting to watch how the individual heroes are faring.  Iron Man 3 was, in my opinion, the best Iron Man film yet.  It also reminded us of an undeniable fact: stuff like what happened in New York changes people.  Tony Stark will never be the same.  Agent Coulson will never be the same either, as we have seen in Agents of SHIELD.  The same is true of Thor.

The first Thor film is primarily a tale of Thor versus himself.  It’s a story about his battle to overcome selfishness and to be a selfless leader.  Loki may have been the villain on paper, but the true conflict was the classic man versus himself.  Loki’s true villainous reign came in The Avengers.  This film is different.  There is no man versus himself, no inner turmoil.  There is only universe-impending doom.  As compared to the first film, which took place mostly on Earth, a great deal of this movie takes place on other planets (not only Asguard), making the Marvel universe that much bigger.  That’s not necessarily a good thing, however.

Since I heard that Christopher Eccleston was going to be Malekith, I had been thrilled.  I’m a big Eccleston fan (I still think the 9th Doctor should have had another series/season), so I couldn’t wait to see Thor and Malekith duke it out.  Unfortunately, he is one of Marvel’s weakest villains to date.

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Don’t get me wrong, Eccleston’s performance is great.  The character just isn’t written well.  The majority of his scenes in the first third of the movie are less than two minutes long and he spends most of the time talking in his dark elvish language.  His interactions with the other characters are limited, giving little time for his impressive voice to stretch its doom over us.

Serioiusly.  His voice is amazing.

However, it doesn’t make up for the weak writing.  The plot surrounds Jane Foster even more than the first film.  The Aether (pronounced “ether”) is a super-powerful liquid relic-ish thing of power that Malekith wants so he can turn the nine realms into darkness.  Jane accidentally comes into contact with it, and it enters her, making her Malekith’s number one target.  I like the way that they did that and Jane has a lot more character development in this film than in the first.  Her being at Asguard also gives the opportunity to show the reverse of the first film.  First we saw Thor on Earth, now we see Jane on Asguard.  It creates some pretty unique situations, including Odin dismissing Jane as a human and therefore not worth their time (which shows Jane’s fire when she exclaims “Who do you think you are?”).

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That’s all pretty cool, but the main conflict is weakened slightly by the lack of attention on Malekith.  Why does the film spend so little time on the main villain?  Because it tries too hard to do too many things with too many characters.  Let’s do a tally: Thor, Jane, Darcy, Ian (better known as “The Intern”), Odin, Freya, Loki, The Warriors Three, Sif, Erik, and finally Malekith.  That’s thirteen characters, not even counting Malekith’s warrior henchman and Asguard’s guardian Heimdall.  The movie tries to spend even more time with these characters than in the first movie, by whatever means necessary.  Even if that means showing an astrophysicist streaking at Stonehenge because he lost his mind.  Of course, he conveniently finds it right before the impending apocalypse for absolutely no reason.

Had the film not tried to do so much with so many people, Malekith would have been given the time on screen he needed.  Eccleston is a talented actor, he just had only crumbs of time to work with.  More time is given to the last movie’s primary villain in Loki than to Malekith.  That’s not something I can feel completely gypped for, though.

If anyone steals the show in this movie, it’s Tom Hiddleston.  His performance as Loki gets better with each movie, and it’s downright incredible in this one.  Whether it’s the sulking prisoner, mourning son, angry villain, or annoying brother, he shifts in and out of the multiple facets of Loki’s complicated persona flawlessly.  His chemistry with Chris Hemsworth also gets better with every film, and the two of them are more believable as brothers in this movie than in any previous movie.  That’s impressive, considering the horrid history that these two are quickly building between each other.  That relationship is the subject of a variety of humorous exchanges, mostly Loki teasing Thor for his inability to fly.  In fact, that whole scene is utterly fantastic, and the two exchange the priceless lines “Congratulations, you just decapitated your grandfather,” “Shut up, Loki,” and my personal favorite, “Ta-da!”

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Thor and Loki working together has to be my favorite part of the film.  We all secretly long to see the hero and arch-nemesis working side-by-side, even though we always know it can’t last.  They don’t disappoint.  While their battle scene together is short-lived, it’s one of the coolest scenes in the movie.

When it comes to the final battle between Thor and Malekith, things come together more so than previous parts of the movie.  The end is where Christopher Eccleston’s performance as Malekith becomes more real, and the battle sequence is pretty epic.  The only downfall of it is the humor.  The movie is hilarious.  That’s the way it should be.  Thor is primed for humor, and they would be foolish to not capitalize on that.  Inserting humorous moments into the epic final battle for the soul of the universe, however, seems quite forced.

While the poor writing of Malekith and misplaced humor take away from the overall quality of the film, don’t let that keep you from seeing it.  Thor and Loki’s chemistry is fantastic, Tom Hiddleston’s performance is unbelievable, and the movie explores new facets of Earth-Asguardian interaction.  It’s a new story, and trumps the first in cinematic quality.  I for one can’t wait for the next Thor adventure, because Marvel is getting really good at making these movies.

 

This review was originally posted at lettherebemovies.com

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