If you want to escape the ravages of our world for those in another, and have a truly fun time at the movies, go see Thor: The Dark World. The film is exciting, funny, and playful. The best part: you don’t have to take any of it seriously, unless you’re a comic book junkie and you then will. But from that perspective, it’s done well, so there aren’t too many complaints, at least from this nerd.
Thor: The Dark World begins with a flashback to when Odin’s father, Bor, engaged in a massive battle with the Dark Elf, Malekith. Malekith had a mysterious liquid weapon known as the Aether. While his army was defeated, Malekith survived in a deep sleep and the Aether was hidden in Asgard. Flash forward to present day, Dr. Jane Foster is mysteriously taken through a portal to the hidden Aether. The dark liquid connects to her causing Malekin to awaken. Thor must save his love Jane and defeat Malekin, or bear witness to the destruction of the universe.
No problem for a Norse God.
While the film centers on Thor, it is Loki who steals the show. Tom Hiddleston is terrific reprising his role as Thor’s adopted brother. I found that Loki not only carried his weight, but also the entire movie. When he’s not on screen, Loki is missed and you can’t wait for him to return. It reminded me of the feeling (not the performance) of Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight. You selfishly want him on the screen all of the time because he’s that good.
Perhaps it is because Loki is truly needed to make this film work. In Thor and Marvel’s The Avengers, there was so much action and so many characters that Loki didn’t need to be as prominent. Here, he seizes center stage and relishes every moment. He’s like a mischievous child that is not your own – you can’t help but root for him to do bad things and watch the drama play out. Loki, at heart, is crafty. He ever plays on Thor’s belief that one day he’ll be a true brother. Wishful thinking.
In comparison, Chris Hemsworth as the God of Thunder is a good straight man. He isn’t nearly as juicy or amusing to watch as Loki, but Thor isn’t a bore either. He’s quick to anger and loves a good fight. Thor is a warrior through and through. But he’s not immune to his own heart, which keeps bringing him back to Earth.
Which brings us to his love interest, Dr. Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman. The connection between Hemsworth and Portman is believable but average. As I watched, their feelings were never translated as strongly as needed. We are to believe that they had to be together, that their love holds no bonds, even through other worlds. The chemistry between the two reminds me of Portman’s wooden and forced connection to Hayden Christensen in the Star Wars prequels.
In Thor: The Dark World, the jokes are cheap, but again, it doesn’t really matter. They work. The action is solid, yet the pace at times gets bogged down in Thor’s life and interactions on Asgard. To my surprise, the film never went as dark as I thought it would. Things do fall apart for Thor, but I was anticipating it be a tad more brutal.
It is called Thor: The Dark World, isn’t it?