Thor: The Dark World Shows Marvel’s Still Got It

Thor The Dark World image from Fansided

I have no idea what kind of magic Marvel Studios has been using for the past five years, but it is apparently still working. Who would have guessed when Marvel decided to film its own movies instead of subcontracting them out to established film companies like Fox or Sony Pictures, that they would pump out hit after hit after hit? Not only have they gone from not existing to one of Hollywood’s biggest powerhouses and trend-setters in just five years, but nearly all of the films they have made have been exceptionally good.

Okay, so... not quite all of them.

Okay, so… not quite all of them.

While there will inevitably come a day when Marvel Studios’s magic will run out and they’ll make some horrendous flops, it certainly isn’t today. Thor: The Dark World is an absolutely excellent action movie that surpasses even the original.

I feel almost guilty heaping so much praise on this movie, but when I tried to rack my brain to find anything wrong with it, I just couldn’t come up with anything. The action was well-balanced, the acting was great, the film kept the right balance between high stakes, emotional confrontations, and comedy relief, and it was all put together with excellent pacing. I would even go so far as to argue that this film is the most creative work Marvel Studios has put out thus far. We get to see much more of Asgard and the other aliens of this universe, and they are all given very interesting and smart designs that seem to draw equally from fantasy and sci-fi elements, creating a futuristic yet timeless feel. And, as always, the special effects team has outdone itself to create a breathtaking CGI spectacle.

Pictured: Film-making at its best.

Pictured: Film-making at its best.

The story this time centers around the “Dark-Elves”, creatures that apparently existed before the universe (however that’s supposed to be possible) and want to restore the universe to the way it was before, well, all of us existed. As far as villain plans go, this one is pretty cliché. It’s your run-of-the-mill “use magic object A at a very specific moment when plot device B is perfectly aligned” plan. At the end of the day, though, what makes this movie work is what they build on top of the formulaic foundation.

The focus of the movie isn’t really on the villains, but on the complicated dynamic between Thor (Chris Helmsworth), Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and their parents, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and Frigga (Rene Russo). Loki’s actions in Thor and The Avengers are seen as a betrayal by his family, and they imprison him because they feel he can’t be trusted anymore. Then, the bad guys show up, and suddenly Thor finds that he can’t defeat them without Loki’s help, creating an awkward situation where Thor must bring him along. The awkward tension is palpable – you just don’t know what Loki intends to do, and whether he will choose to help his brother or the enemy.

Also, the human cast has a much bigger role in this movie than in the previous one. In Thor, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård), and Darcy (Kat Dennings) were basically there for comic relief more than anything else; their job was just to react to how strange and awkward Thor was in the unfamiliar setting of modern-day Earth. In this movie, they play a much bigger role. Jane actually goes to Asgard with Thor, and the human characters play a major role in defeating the main villain at the end. This seemed much more engaging to me, especially given how weak and vulnerable humans are in this universe by comparison.

If I had to find even the tiniest weakness in the movie, it is that it is definitely a victim of “sequelhood”. The film expects its audience to have seen both Thor and The Avengers, so if you have seen neither, some plot points might not make very much sense. That is really nit-picking, though, and I think it’s fair to say that most of the film’s intended audience will find that the references to prior movies fit right in. Thor: The Dark World is just plain good, pure and simple.

Thanks to all of our nation’s veterans for their service. We salute you.

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3 Responses to Thor: The Dark World Shows Marvel’s Still Got It

  1. Aaron Bevan says:

    Wow, a great cast and a great storyline between Thor and Loki, who could ask for more? Oh yeah, its got Natalie Portman:) and a all-star cast. I find your words true, that you had a hard time finding any faults in this movie. I believe you. And, information like, ” Marvel decided to film its own movies instead of subcontracting them out to established film companies like Fox or Sony Pictures,” is news to me and I appreciate those background facts. Nice way to provide a start to your review with hard facts.

    Great review with great background information. Thanks, Aaron.

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