The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has captivated and enthralled fans around the world, shattering box office records and making comic book movies forces to be reckoned with. The latest entry in the MCU, Thor: The Dark World, surpasses its lackluster predecessor but fails to reach the heights of some of Marvel’s more inspired efforts. The acting and visuals are phenomenal, but the pacing and the characters need more work. All in all, though, the God of Thunder’s latest adventure has just enough action, humor, and thrills to satisfy the most cynical moviegoers, even if there’s still plenty to bitch about.
When we last saw Thor, he was escorting his brother, Loki, back to Asgard to be tried for attempting to take over the world. Now, he’s moping around Asgard, ignoring Sif’s advances and dreaming about Jane Foster. But when Jane accidentally becomes possessed by an evil power called Aether, an ancient evil in the form of Malekith the Accursed awakens and sets its sights on Asgard. After a devastating attack on his home, Thor teams up with Loki and sets off to tackle this new evil, but will the duo be able to stop such a powerful foe? Come on, you know the answer to that.
The only things Chris Hemsworth brings to the table as Thor are his washboard abs and a constant grimace that tells villains he means business, but I guess that’s what Marvel’s paying him the big bucks for. Hell, if it’s that easy to break into Hollywood, I’ll just spend six months pumping iron before I audition for a high profile role. It’s Tom Hiddleston’s Loki that actually does all the heavy lifting here, and it’s he alone that carries the film. All of the movie’s emotional resonance comes from Loki’s pent up pain and rage, which Tom Hiddleston brilliantly conveys in the finest display of acting in any MCU movie. Sif(Jaimie Alexander) is unforgivably underused, a crime that will send Thor/Sif shippers into frothing fits of rage. Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster is disposable, as are Eric Selvig(Stellan Skarsgard) and Darcy Lewis(Kat Dennings). New baddie Malekith is half-heartedly brought to life by Christopher Eccleston, whose efforts to make him a convincing villain are feeble and completely uninspired. It’s almost as if the executives over at Marvel forced him to play the part all through filming, threatening him if he strayed away from the set.
The film speeds along at a breakneck pace, refusing to let viewers stop and breathe. Even the scenes that are supposed to pack a punch seem rushed, sucking them dry of any emotional payoff. Halfway through the movie, a character we’re supposed to care deeply about kicks the bucket, but instead we observe the scene with an indifference that one can liken to that of a sociopath. It seriously hurts the film, and my mind is still sprinting to keep up with its ridiculously fast pace.
On a more positive note, the film looks and sounds fantastic, its inventive action sequences and quick, clever exchanges between characters being its strongest aspects. Every smash of Thor’s hammer sends a jolt of electricity through the ground and our spines, reminding us why we come to these movies. For many, it’s that jolt of electricity that will keep them coming for second or even third viewings. And as long as that keeps us coming to these movies, Marvel will keep pumping them out without any hesitation.