Over the weekend, I had a chance to see the newest installment of the Marvel movies, Thor 2 : The Dark World. I wasn’t a fan of the first movie because it felt rushed and hastily written. So I was a bit hesitant to see the second movie. Would it learned from its past mistakes?
In a sense, yeah…just barely.
Don’t get me wrong! The movie was good! I loved every minute of it! But having a chance to step back and allow the excitement to die down a bit, I’ve had a chance to really notice the film’s strength as well as its weaknesses.
The story picks up following the events of The Avengers, with Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth) battling through the Nine Worlds of the universe as peacekeeper while struggling with the idea of becoming king of Asgard. Thor has no such desire to be as he still longs to be with Jane Foster (played by Natalie Portman). His fondness for Jane doesn’t sit well with Thor’s father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) who wishes his son to take his place on the throne and warns him that life with a mortal would be pointless and harsh. Meanwhile, Thor’s brother Loki (Tom Hiddleson) has been returned to Asgard in chains after his attack on New York and is just as bitter and snarky as ever. Sentenced to a lifetime of imprisonment, we don’t see much of Loki through the beginning part of the film. Which is strange since we get the sense at the very beginning that Loki is our main baddie.
Not this time around.
The main villain this time comes in the form of Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), a warrior-leader of the race of Dark Elves of Svartalfheim who had battled against the forces of Asgard centuries before. Defeated once already, Malekith returns with the goal of finishing what he started by means of unleashing a universe destroying weapon known as the Aether. Which more or less looks like spilled wine or sugary red kool-aid. The weapon was locked away by Odin’s father, but now has found its way to Jane Foster, infusing itself with her and slowly killing her. Through a series of events, Thor must ally himself with his traitorous brother in hopes of saving Asgard and of course, Earth.
For the most part, we’ve seen this story before. Many, many times. It’s your basic story bad-guy-wants-to-destroy-the-world-with-a-super weapon. This is a cliche formula for your average super hero, so I don’t have much complaint about that since that’s what I was expecting going in. The story has its weak points here and there but it’s still enjoyable. However, I do have an issue with how the main villain was presented in this movie. In so many words, this wasn’t the villain that you exactly feared.
In fact, I hardly remembered him at all.
That seems to be the biggest complaint with most critics and I have to say that I’m one of them. As I’ve said before, at first glance, we get the impression that Loki will be the biggest antagonist. In fact, we see more of Loki than we do of Malekith through out the movie. And Malekith is the one with the evil plan here! Not Loki! I can venture to guess that the movie makers are more than aware of Loki’s huge surge in popularity these days since there is no other explanation as to why the trickster prince must have so much more scene time that the actual villain. Having the focus be more on the secondary bad guy that the actual bad guy doesn’t help the film. It just makes it confusing.
It’s also kind of a let down when you have an actor such as Christopher Eccleston becoming second fiddle. In my opinion, this the guy you want to play your villains! The guy knows how to play evil. I’ve seen in other films such 28 Days Later and G.I. Joe : The Rise of Cobra where he played some really evil dudes. The kind of dudes that you want to hate. Of course, I remember him fondly as the Ninth Doctor in Doctor Who, and even then Eccleston knew how to give a splash of darkness to an otherwise light-hearted character. So it’s a bit of a disappoinment that the movie makers didn’t play Malekith’s character to the best Eccleston’s strength.
Well, perhaps they did. Recently it’s come to my attention that there are a whole slew of unused scenes that didn’t make it into the final cut. Most of the those scenes consisted of a complete backstory of Malekith’s past as well as the motivation to his revenge. Call me crazy, but that sounds like the kind of thing movie goers would want to see! What makes Loki so popular these days is how he is presented. Tom Hiddleston does a fantastic job at humanizing a man that people should loathe. His motivations for breaking down his brother come from a place that is relatable to everyone, and the writers take great care in that. Had they done the same thing for Malekith, I think this film could’ve been a whole some much more deep and character driven.
So minus ten points there…
It’s not all bad however. There are some good points that the movie that I did enjoy.
One of my biggest complaints in the first movie was how the romance between Jane and Thor was handled. It felt rushed sloppily written to the point that it wasn’t believeable. I’m guessing that the original intent was to make it appear as if it was love at first sight for these two, but it didn’t come off that way. Thor, in my opinion, didn’t seem all that interested until the end and Jane came off as a horny schoolgirl. For Thor 2, however, the romance is handled a bit better.
I will say this much for the first movie. It helped establish the bond that Thor and Jane have enough that it carries over to the next film and makes easier to feel for them. Thor is truly smitten by Jane and is highly keen on the idea of spending his life with her. And this time around, Jane isn’t practically begging Thor to ravage her. She has a bit more dignity and isn’t sitting back as a weak damsel. She’s helpful and strong-willed and even manages to tell off not just Loki, but Odin as well. The romance doesn’t feel so hammered in, but instead it feels solid and well-thought out. And yes, I can forgive that it took two movies to get us to that point. It’s strange for me to say that half-way in, this action-packed super hero about a guy who likes to hit people with a hammer started to feel more like a chick flick. A chick-flick I actually liked.
And coming from me who isn’t the biggest fan of chick-flicks, that’s a big deal.
Some of the best moments come from the hilarious writing. The dialouge is chalk full of quirky one-liners and jokes and witty observations that you have to be really paying attention to catch them all. The Marvel movies are masters at not taking themselves too seriously and allowing the natural comedy of the actors to bubble through. And this brand of smart, witty comedy shines in the banter exchange whenever Loki and Thor are on screen together.
I have to give huge credit to Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston’s chemistry. They truly enjoy the roles they’re playing and want to have as much fun as they can with them. The moments that Thor and Loki have together are absolutely enjoyable. For all their hatred they have for each other, they still behave like brothers. Bratty brothers who want to one up the other. Whether it’s moments of them fighting over who gets to fly the giant spaceship or Loki morphing into various people just to annoy Thor, this is what fans like to see.
All in all Thor 2 : The Dark World is a really enjoyable movie. It has some flaws but nothing that makes the film not-likeable. Fans wanted to see more of Asgard, they got more Asgard. They wanted more action, they got more action. Fans wanted more Loki…Lord, they’ll get more Loki. And remember the number one rule when watching a Marvel movie, DON’T LEAVE THE THEATER UNTIL THE CREDITS ARE OVER.
Overall rating : B+