Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Main cast: Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Natalie Portman (Dr Jane Foster), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Idris Elba (Heimdall), Stellan Skarsgård (Dr Erik Selvig), Christopher Eccleston (Malekith), Adewake Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Algrim/Kurse), Kat Dennings (Darcy Lewis), Jonathan Howard (Ian Boothby), Ray Stevenson (Volstagg), Zachary Levi (Fandral), Tadanobu Asano (Hogun), Jaimie Alexander (Sif), Rene Russo (Frigga), and Sir Anthony Hopkins (Odin)
Director: Alan Taylor
Thor made a lot of money, so it's natural that the sequel, Thor: The Dark World goes ahead and unleashes Chris Hemsworth's blond beefcake visage on our collective conscience. Not that this is a bad thing at all, as he is a pretty sight to behold. The movie follows the same formula, with another group of ugly beasts coming to smash the beautiful collective of Asgard.
Since the events in Thor and The Avengers, Thor now hangs out with the Warriors Three - Hogun, Volstagg, and Fandral - and Sif, who isn't a warrior because, apparently, you need a penis to be one. They go around smashing ugly creatures and anything else that does not embody beauty, and all is well... or so it seems.
The time of the Convergence arrives, a day when the Nine Hells are aligned and portals linking all worlds would randomly open on Midgard. Dr Jane Foster, who wasn't in The Avengers because all the casting budget went to expensive male actors, is finally reunited with Thor, who gives her the classic "I didn't call because it was all for your own good!" spiel that has always worked on women since forever.
Alas, during this reunion, Jane accidentally triggers a portal and ends up taking in the essence of the Aether, a weapon belonging to the leader of the Dark Elves, Malekith. In static animation since his defeat by Odin's father Bor, Malekith senses the release of his weapon and is galvanized into action. Naturally, he sets his eyes on Asgard. He has a score to settle, after all. He also wants his weapon back, which is now trapped inside Jane. Conveniently enough, Thor has been reunited with Jane and has brought her to Asgard to meet his parents.
Thor is never an interesting character, and his tendency to talk like a jock who has problems even with monosyllable words doesn't help elevate his personality much. Jane plays a more obvious damsel in distress role here, so her character is diluted considerably into one-dimensional flatness. It's sad how few kick-ass females there are in this movie, and the heroine isn't one of them. Jane does have a remarkable ability to keep her make-up free from smudges as well as her hair all clean and shiny despite having been dragged through dirt and all. Maybe she has some secret Norse god powers?
Just like in the previous movie, the other Asgardian deities are just sort of here to take up space, even Sif, whose "larger role" and "character development" are more hype than substance. They each have only one "big" moment, underlining their purpose in this movie - plot devices rather than characters in their own right. Did anyone notice that Fandral is now played by a different actor? Do people even know that there is a Fandral in this movie? Sir Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo are wasted in their roles, but they put in far more effort into making their characters more memorable compared to other secondary characters who get similarly little or just a bit more screen time.
Fortunately, Loki is still in this movie, to steal every scene he is in. Tom Hiddleston is reduced to sneering and camping it up here, but he does all with aplomb. Stellan Skarsgård ramps up the comic factor, providing a nice change of pace from the emo pouting that plagues too many characters in this movie.
Much of the movie is the usual action movie drama. Chases, fights, rescues, that kind of thing. Space crafts and lasers make this movie look like Star Wars with superheroes and spandex, and the sight of Asgardians using swords and shields to fight off the laser guns of the enemies can be odd indeed. But the whole thing looks every expensive and, fortunately, entertaining. There are some twists and turns that make the plot far more convoluted than it needs to be, but since it's all an excuse to keep Loki coming back, I'm not complaining. The villain appears far too infrequently to be a credible menace, however, and he is defeated far too easily for what he is hyped up to be.
At the end of the day, Thor: The Dark World is a pretty decent movie and it offers ample fun to go with the popcorn. It lacks the heart and soul of the previous movie, however, making this sequel feel tad hollow in comparison.
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