I’m completely burned out on Marvel’s one-note Cinematic Universe, and really hadn’t looked forward to the follow-up to ‘Thor’. While I enjoyed what Kenneth Branaugh did with the Norse god, and thought ‘The Avengers’ was a lot of fun, tonal repetition and massive overkill (have you tried watching the dreadful ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ series?) have taken all the enjoyment out of the Marvel franchise. I’m ready for Marvel to take a nice long break, which makes it all the more surprising that I found ‘Thor: The Dark World’ to be pretty entertaining.
‘The Dark World’ takes places two years after the events of the first ‘Thor‘. We open with another history lesson. This one shows how the Dark Elves were defeated by Odin’s father, and what the Asgardians did with the Elves’ secret weapon. After that, we jump right into Thor’s life and see what he’s been up to since the attack on New York. When the Bifrost bridge was destroyed, the nine realms became unstable. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and company have been cleaning them up. Just as things seem to get back to normal, the Dark Elves make themselves known again. This time, a coincidence brings the fate of Thor’s Earthly obsession, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), into the mix. Of course, because Marvel can’t seem to make a movie with Thor in it that doesn’t also feature his back-stabbing brother (Tom Hiddleston) as a villain, Loki returns as a major player. Thor and Jane must work with Loki to defeat the Dark Elves, even though they don’t know how much they can trust him.
Like the most of the other Marvel movies, ‘The Dark World’ is full of fun. It feels more like a summer blockbuster than an end-of-year mainstream crowd-pleaser. It’s entertaining, yet features a nice amount of dark content. The action scenes are playful. Some of them surprisingly resemble a ‘Star Wars’ movie. For some reason, the film’s should-be intense climax is where the most laugh-inducing jokes and gags are. Honestly, it’s distracting, especially since many of them derive from the always-annoying Kat Dennings.
Aside from the wishy-washy tone of the movie’s ending, one other aspect really bugged me. It’s somewhat spoilery, so jump to the next paragraph if you want to see ‘The Dark World’ untainted. After the first movie, I became extremely weary from Loki constantly using his hologram trick. We saw him use it multiple times in both ‘Thor’ and ‘The Avengers’. Once again, Loki doesn’t have any other tricks up his sleeve than his holograms. This device is so over-used again in ‘The Dark World’ that I stopped caring what happened on-screen, because any action with gravity was undone two minutes later by another silly reveal. Marvel’s writers need to put that move to rest.
I enjoyed ‘Thor: The Dark World’, but there’s no denying that it’s a hollow shell of the film that the first movie was. ‘Iron Man 3’ started a trend of declining quality for Marvel that I fear will only get worse as the quantity of the studio’s releases increases.
Be aware that the end credits contain both one teaser and easter egg scene. The first, which is shown partway through the credits, is a lead-in to ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’. The footage shown is bad. Low budget bad. As if I tried to recreate the sets from ‘Pacific Rim’ and ‘Blade Runner’ in my garage. The post-credits footage is downright silly and awful. The final shot is something that you’d typically find at the end of a gag reel. It’s a joke not worth laughing at or staying through all the credits for.