I’ve learned not to expect much from sequels, especially when they’re part of a franchise. Pirates of the Caribbean 2 through 19 ruined that experience for me. But Thor: The Dark World not only delivers the expected action and expensive props, it also brings humour, drama, and excitement. Before the film was over I was already planning the next time I could sit down to watch it. It doesn’t rely on second-round jokes, it shows a whole new side of the Thor universe, and it is absolutely entertaining.
Odin (Anthony Hopkins), king of Asgard, opens the movie by describing a culture of terrifying creatures called ‘Dark Elves’. I agree, it’s not the most original name. It doesn’t sound like they’re from the same book as Mjölnir and Jotunheim, but these Elves are freeeeeeky-lookin’. They wear thick plastic masks with black eye sockets, and last night one of them chased me around a nightmare for a solid hour. They carry ridiculous weapons like implosion grenades (*shiver*), and they quickly transform into demon-like “cursed ones” by crushing a lump of coal in their hands. Maybe these are the guys who deliver gifts to the naughty children on Christmas?
Anyway, said Elves and their leader, Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), want to control the power of the Aether (something like your lava lamp on malicious steroids) and use it to turn off all the light in the universe. They don’t call them ‘Dark Elves’ for nothing. The problem is, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) accidentally absorbed the Aether into her body when she was looking for her realm-trotting boyfriend, Thor (Chris Hemsworth). It is now up to Thor to get the evil lava-like stuff out of poor Jane and destroy it before Malekith can blot out the sun.
As for ‘poor Jane’, she really doesn’t have much to do for half the film. In groups of three or more the girl barely has a line. She follows, obeys, and has a quick quip here and there, but mostly she’s just overwhelmed by all the gods. And quite frankly, who wouldn’t be? Even Loki (Tom Hiddleston) plays the shining knight for a scene or two. When she’s alone with Thor, however, they have nothing but doe-eyes for each other. They do make one cute couple, and the chemistry is brilliantly bubbly, but I wish that Portman, the Oscar winner, had a little more to say and do.
Director Alan Taylor certainly gives us enough to look at, though. Plot aside (which is interesting in its own right), the film is simply beautiful to watch. The colours, the costumes, the CGI, the fake contacts…it’s all very artistic. There is one funeral scene (not a spoiler – it’s a movie about war, and thus people die) and it is mesmerizing. He offers us one beautiful moment after another.
I found Thor: The Dark World entertaining to watch, listen to, and laugh along with. It keeps a healthy balance between action and comedy, with both being used simultaneously. The climax is like a game of hide-and-go-seek-tag-wormhole. I had a great experience watching the film, and for that I give it a 9/10. Yes there’s a little clip after the main credits and yes it will make nerds gasp in anticipation, so yes you should stay seated for three or so minutes after the closing scene.