Thor: The Dark World (2013) by The Critical Movie Critics

Movie Review: Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Thor: The Dark World (2013) by The Critical Movie Critics

Heroic father and son.

There’s nothing more disappointing than a sequel that does not live up to the original film it came from, therefore, my cinematic experiences over the years dealing with such efforts have certainly been tragic. Yes, there have been second films that have equaled or surpassed the original (“The Empire Strikes Back,” “Superman 2,” “The Godfather: Part 2,” just to name a very few), but these are as rare as Academy Award nominations from “Weird Al” Yankovic.

So, diehard Marvel Studios fans may want to exit this website now and forgo any bitterness they may feel when they realize this review — while not a whole dismissal of the newest superhero epic, Thor: The Dark World — may not exactly be what they want to read at this moment.

True to my nature as an optimist, however, I will highlight the positive points of the new production. First, Chris Hemsworth is the perfect choice to play the stoic, unemotional, dispassionate, apathetic, unmoved Nordic leading deity to a tee (actually, I’m not sure these are good points). It does not require a whole lot of animation to jump from the sky, punch someone out or throw a hammer. Hemsworth does a very good job in his portrayal of such a character and, as long as he does not try to break the acting ceiling like he did in “Snow White and the Huntsman,” I think we’ll be all right.

The other good thing about this movie (and it’s probably the best) is Loki (Tom Hiddleston, “Midnight in Paris“), the deeply troubled younger (and let’s not forget ADOPTED) brother of the first prince of Asgard. It’s his third appearance in the role and he has grown quite comfortable as the smirking, conniving schemer. Here, he makes every scene he’s in delectable. It’s too bad he is not in more. Plus, the sequences where he appears with Hemsworth are not only the best in the picture, but they elevate the latter’s status and acting credentials even higher than they should be.

Okay, we have discussed the positive, now let’s look at the concerns. Replacing first installment director Kenneth Branagh (who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director — and lead actor — for 1989’s “Henry V“) eliminated the whole Shakespearian angle with the fallen brother, the troubled prince and world-wear king, which punctuated the action scenes and made for much more intelligent viewing than your average superhero narrative.

Alan Taylor, while adept at television drama (several installments of “Mad Men,” “Game of Thrones” and a host of others), has not helmed a feature film since “Kill the Poor” in 2003. His contribution to this feature — at least as far as the Bard connection goes — is negligible and thus much of the drama of “Thor” is replaced with the mediocre of standard fights, screaming and explosions. Yes, Thor: The Dark World looks good, but there is a troubling blandness and sameness to the enterprise.

Sadly underused (or misused in some cases) are Anthony Hopkins (“Red 2“) as King Odin, Natalie Portman (“Black Swan“), Stellan Skarsgård (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo“) as Dr. Erik Selvig and Christopher Eccleston (“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra“) as the main villain — that’s right, Loki isn’t even to top bad guy here — Malekith. Hopkins is given even less screen time than in the first film, while Portman bitches and moans and nags so much about Thor being away one understands his reasoning completely. She is both bland and annoying, a difficult tightrope to walk (see “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium” for a perfect example).

Thor: The Dark World (2013) by The Critical Movie Critics

Ready to kick ass.

Meanwhile, Skarsgård has been reduced to a comic relief buffoon and Eccleston, who began his career in 1991 in a great little British film, “Let Him Have It,” is easily one of the worst villains of all-time, sort of a lightweight Bane, but without the menacing demeanor. Heavily made-up and CGIed to the point of complete obscurity, he comes back (after failing numerous time in the past) to use the all-powerful Aether to blow all of the realms to pieces, for whatever that’s worth. The best spy, war and superhero movies have one thing in common — great and terrifying bad guys (Goldfinger, Darth Vader, Lex Luthor, Loki). Malekith is certainly a name few will remember in the annals of filmdom’s evil malefactors.

Few will remember the plot of Thor: The Dark World as well. Basically Asgard is under assault from Malekith and Thor is forced to release Loki from prison (where he has been since the end of “The Avengers“) to aid in the protection of the realms. The real drama is whether the kid brother can be trusted. Seems a logical concern to me. There are trips to other planets and Earth gets a few location shots. Monsters are destroyed, good guys are pounded and, for a while, we wonder if anyone can survive the onslaught of out-of-control special effects. One funny sequence involves Thor and Malekith bouncing around the universe while the mighty hammer of the Norse god struggles vainly just to keep up with the action.

Thor: The Dark World is nowhere near enough to surpass the first experience, and while not a bad movie at all, it just seems like a temporary diversion until a part three (or “The Avengers: Age of Ultron“) comes out. Sadly, that’s just not enough for a studio with a much better track record than this.

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
3 Star Rating: Average


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The Critical Movie Critics

I have been a movie fan for most of my life and a film critic since 1986 (my first published review was for "Platoon"). Since that time I have written for several news and entertainment publications in California, Utah and Idaho. Big fan of the Academy Awards - but wish it would go back to the five-minute dinner it was in May, 1929. A former member of the San Diego Film Critics Society and current co-host of "The Movie Guys," each Sunday afternoon on KOGO AM 600 in San Diego with Kevin Finnerty.

'Movie Review: Thor: The Dark World (2013)' have 14 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 12, 2013 @ 10:20 am Mt. Stubble

    Part 2 is a lot of fun although it is a whole lot funner when Hiddleston is on screen! That guy is one charming son-of-a-gun.

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 12, 2013 @ 11:07 am ocost

    Solid action-er. Makes a good addition to the Marvel catalog.

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 12, 2013 @ 1:32 pm Wilt

    If you didn’t hate Jane Foster the first time round, you will this time. They’ve made her into such a weak character.

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      November 12, 2013 @ 3:46 pm Calila

      Blame that chick Natalie Portman for not being able to act.

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 12, 2013 @ 1:39 pm I Wear Glasses

    Infinitely better sequel than Iron Man 2.

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 12, 2013 @ 2:11 pm Brennen

    Thor is gay.

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      November 12, 2013 @ 6:54 pm RootBeer

      He can definitely do a better job picking his female love interest. Sif is obviously a better mate than Jane Foster. Even Darcy Lewis is a better choice.

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 12, 2013 @ 3:40 pm Serious Cake

    They just need to give Loki his own movies. I’d watch every single one of them. Twice.

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      November 12, 2013 @ 6:00 pm Almost_Two

      He does have his own movies. Three of them to be precise – The Avengers and Thor 1 and Thor 2.

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      November 15, 2013 @ 11:04 am Charles Primm

      I don’t think Loki is interesting enough for his own films. He makes a great antogonist in someone else’s movie but his schtick would get old really fast if he were the focal point.

  7. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 12, 2013 @ 4:13 pm Zona

    I’ll be a happier man when this superhero fad has suffered the same fate as that blasted Furby.

  8. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 12, 2013 @ 4:38 pm brucethehoon

    right on greg

  9. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 12, 2013 @ 9:15 pm Raven

    This is now my favorite solo hero movie..

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      November 13, 2013 @ 11:38 am deftones

      I’ve got Spider-Man 2 topping my list.

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