“It’s not that I don’t love our little talks, it’s just… I don’t love our little talks.” – Loki, Thor: The Dark World (2013).
Regardless of film, you almost always go into watching a motion picture with a basis of knowledge. For me, I knew this film was apparently mediocre. The first Thor (2011) had barely scraped by as a passably fun, but extremely cliche superhero flick. Having recently watched Thor: Ragnarok (2017), I can safely say the most recent addition to the series is also the best. So where does that put Thor: The Dark World? Right at the bottom, it’s the worst instalment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But there must be some cognitive reason as to why it’s the worst in the entire series. That’s not a light claim that you can just brush up, that’s a dividing issue that needs to be dealt with. What exactly makes Thor: The Dark World so dreadful? Without going into the several thousand reasons for this, taking a look at what is done correctly may be worth a shot. Aside from the returning Hopkins, who is as ever fantastic, there really isn’t anything. Fans of Christopher Eccleston will be happy to learn he makes an appearance as the dull villain Malekith.
Malekith is certainly one of the most boring villains of the MCU thus far. Yes, he is indeed a hell of a lot worse than Jeff Bridges in Iron Man (2008). Regardless of comparison, Eccleston’s performance isn’t the problem, it’s simply that the character isn’t given anything to do. It’s a shame really, this film does in fact boast a hefty amount of talent but what it manages is debatable. Returning star Tom Hiddleston slips into the role of Loki nicely once more, but gives an expectedly fine performance that wallows in the mediocrity of the plot.
Marvel films tend to be very run of the mill and Thor: The Dark World begins to highlight the wafer thin outline of each and every plot. The only real change this time is villain and location, with no additional members of the cast being spotted. Well, none of any use, worth or value anyways. One of the better parts of the first film, that of Stellan Skarsgard’s great performance and character, is reduced to nothing more than a joke here. He has more integrity and worth playing Bill Austin in Mamma Mia (2008). Turning a great supporting character into nothing more than a one line joke is such a discredit to a great actor.
Casting and plot issues aside, Thor: The Dark World is more or less what you’d expect. The similarly dull action scenes are more or less replicated throughout. Thor was a memorable film because it had some extremely enjoyable action sequences throughout and for the most part they were very well directed. With the sequel however we get nothing of the sort. It’s nowhere near the same standard in either direction, choreography or direction. So forgettable was it that the only part I can remember is that it was raining or cloudy. It involved a lot of teleportation and portals of otherworldly proportions.
See, that was the biggest problem with Thor: The Dark World, it tries so much to be what it isn’t. The addition of ancient magic and modern science really complicates the film and makes an almost impossibly awkward narrative. Why this was so integral to the plot, I honestly don’t know. If anything it seems like director Alan Taylor is wanting to flex his budget muscles a bit too far. CGI effects doesn’t replace story telling or acting, that should be rule one of a Marvel film. Whether or not it’s connected to the first film or not is beyond me, aside from the return of these characters of course. From what I can gather, Taika Waititi’s much better Ragnarok movie is completely unrelated. Obviously the characters are the same, but it makes no mention of the previous two films.
Although a very interesting subject, Thor has always been one of two dark horses in the MCU. The other of course being The Hulk, who doesn’t seem to have a good film in him just yet. Captain America managed two excellent films and one mediocre one to round off the trilogy. Iron Man will hopefully pick up the pace in those unseen sequels I have no intention of watching. As for Thor though, it’s a very difficult one to handle. There’s so much to talk about yet so little time. Hemsworth is evidently the best choice for the role. His charisma never wavering throughout this diluted version of basically any Marvel film. Hemsworth is solid as Thor. He does his best working with a script and director that are definitely not right for him. To be fair, the script and director aren’t right for any of the cast.
Maybe the issues with this film arise from the sudden change in direction, therefore a change in vision. Kenneth Branagh did a solid job with the debut Thor iteration, however it was down to Alan Taylor to replicate that feeling. He did not manage this. This is sadly obvious given the lacking and transparent cinematography and direction. To say it feels bloated and run of the mill is a true understatement. Marvel films often include some interesting bits of cinematography and for the most part are visually impressive. With this film however that colourful flair seems to be all but forgotten. For most periods of this film we see a very grey and rainy London. Not even the amazing CGI of Asgard can impress when compared to the drab city.
When Sir Anthony Hannibal Hopkins is slagging your film off in interviews to promote that film then you may have a problem on your hands. Here’s a shot in the dark, Thor: The Dark World didn’t work because the script and direction were so damn poor. It’s beyond the realm of bad at this point. We as a community of film goers expect a certain quality when it comes to big name buffs like Marvel. Instead of a superb film about the intricate and interesting lore of Thor, we instead get a filler title that suggests 2013 was not a good year for Marvel movies.
Uncharacteristically dull performances from Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and even Natalie Portman’s minor role lead Thor: The Dark World being more a paycheck for the actors than an enjoyable film experience. Being more a can-can of nods to the first film and the Cinematic Universe around them, this film is best forgotten for fans of the series. It’s a hell of a step down from Thor and pales in comparison to the much superior Thor: Ragnarok. Or, as my friend would call it, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.5.