If you are a regular reader of my blog (and why wouldn’t you be?) you’ll know that I found the first Thor film merely good, and certainly far from the best that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to offer.
So, all in all, I wasn’t super excited to see The Dark World. Yes, I wanted to see it, and yes, I hoped it would exceed it’s predecessor in quality. But I didn’t expect to love it quite so much.
Everything in this movie is better than the original. Chris Hemsworth not only plays the titular character better, he even looks better. (Either that’s really his hair this time around, or the wig department did a bang up job.) Natalie Portman as Jane, his Earth-girl crush is more interesting this time around, partly because their romance isn’t just brewing by a fireside, it’s nearly fully blossomed and she gets to say things like “You told your father about me?” Hiddelston isn’t the wounded boy of Thor, nor the mustache-twirling baddie of The Avengers. He’s a complex character who flirts with being likeable so very well.
The supporting characters are also better handled. Thor’s comrades in battle are less whiny and pointless. They do things. They show their value to Asgard, rather than just fretting about when their best friend is coming home. Anthony Hopkins, Rene Russo, Idris Elba: they all have more interesting scenes in this film than anything in the original. On the flip side, the human characters are played almost entirely for laughs. Kat Dennings shows off her sitcom-honed comic timing and Stellan Skarsgård gets to act a little crazy–which I think is entirely appropriate, given what he had to go through in The Avengers.
Extremely minor spoiler: There’s even an enormously fun cameo (of sorts) by a certain someone who may have been in the Battle of New York with Thor.
Christopher Eccleston is largely wasted slathered in thick make up and emoting in pointless elf-speak. But the danger he represents is interesting and potentially devastating. I like the way Jane was pulled into the danger. It worked and didn’t feel too coincidental. The story had a nice organic feel.
The finale, which incorporates a huge, otherworldly smack-down that ranges across realms during a once-every-5000-year “Convergence” does a nice job of balancing epic scene changes with at least a vague dose of “realism”. It was wild and crazy, but not too wild and crazy, if you get my meaning.
All in all, this is a top-tier entry by the Marvel folks. Kudos.