Now Playing: Less Is ‘Thor’

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.

Rating: ★★★½☆


  1. Ralph

    Thing is after the Avengers, the whole “marvel thing” is pretty dead. This is the DC era now and Nolan’s kind of story telling. Marvel’s current form of story telling has lost steam.

    All eyes are on Superman, Batman and the Justice League.

    Not Ant-Man, Galaxy Rangers and the Fuchnikins (or whatever they are doing)

  2. I couldn’t disagree more! We saw this last night and we all agree it’s the best sequel the MCU has produced (not counting Avengers as a sequel that is.) The cheesiness of the mid-credits scene worked for me personally, my friend pointed out that it seemed like an episode of old Doctor Who, which is actually a pretty good direction for that film to take.

    • Did not seem cheesy at all after all the complaints I heard about it.

      The movie was awesome though, and the CGI was some of the best work I have seen in a while.

  3. NJScorpio

    I am also pretty tired of the Marvel movie universe, though I do look forward to the Redbox rentals (unlike the X-Men series).

    They are starting to all feel the same, just with different characters. It’s a fun ride, but I don’t see the need for Iron Man, Thor, and Cap. America movies to be out back to back, all the time. They all seem to have the same tone.

    Perhaps if there was a Punisher movie in the mix…a good one…and a good Hulk movie (though I did like the Ed Norton one).

  4. Muttley

    The “DC Era”?

    They produced a decent, if uneven, Batman Trilogy and one good and yet very devisive Superman movie…oh and a really sub-par Green Lantern movie. Hardly an “Era”…more like a promising beginning with some stumbles.

    Their small screeen projects have a much better track record than their silver screen counterparts at this point.

    It also seems as if DC is just now formulating what their “grand vision” will be for their franchises…meanwhile, Marvel is chugging along producing box-office, if not critical, successes with their in-house properties. The casual comic-book movie fan has been very receptive to thier output so it would be silly for them to stop or switch gears now…despite what some would consider an overabundance of Marvle movies. One reviewer’s “one-note universe” might mean consistency to the casual comic book movie fan.

    Their licensed properties are also showing signs of improvement. X-Men: First Class did a lot to restore some good will toward the franchise after the Ratner debacle and The Amazing Spider-Man set up what would be another return to form for one of their heroes.

    IMO, Marvel is exaclty where they want to be right now and DC has some catching up to do.

    • DC is a disaster behind the scenes. The company has no coherent vision for what it wants to do with either its comic books or movies. The “New 52” comic initiative has been a massive clusterfrack, with numerous artists and writers jumping ship amid stories of total mismanagement, no communication between the creative teams working on related titles, and daily conflicting orders from above about which direction to take each property.

      Other than Batman and (to a lesser extent) the new Man of Steel, DC’s movie business is a joke. They’ve failed for over a decade to get a Wonder Woman movie off the ground, and even fired Joss Whedon over “creative differences,” upon which he immediately went to Marvel and made the billion-dollar grossing Avengers movie. Green Lantern was a huge dud. Even The Dark Knight Rises, despite making a lot of money based on hype and good will from the earlier entries, was a slap-dash effort with an awful script and a complete lack of anything actually happening on screen. Man of Steel was perhaps the most divisive comic book movie in years. As many fans hated it as liked it. The news that its sequel will be a Batman crossover seems like an act of desperation rather than a grand plan to unite DC’s properties. There has been no set-up at all for this on either the Batman (whose character will need rebooting after the end of the Dark Knight trilogy) or Superman side of things.

      Meanwhile, for any flaws you may have about them, Marvel has a very clear unified vision for the direction and interaction of all of its properties, almost all of which have been tremendously successful. There’s no question at all that this is the Age of Marvel, and DC is scrambling to play catch-up.

      • JM

        ‘Superman/Batman: Wonder Woman & Nightwing 2’ is becoming more ‘Batman and Robin’ by the hour.

        Thankfully my kids are already too old to be interested in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy.’

        • I’ve been thinking the same thing about Batman vs Superman lately. DC seems to think it can catch up by haphazardly tossing as many characters into this one movie. At this rate I expect a scene with someone in an orange shirt ordering a water at a bar and then winking at the camera.

          • Can you imagine the level of shaky cam when they have not 1 but 4 or more superheroes (and god knows how many villains? This Batman Superman Debacle started with only a middling Superman movie and is rapidly devolving to Epic fail status. How many great characters can you screw up at once? Guess we will find out next year.

      • Opinionhaver

        Oh my God I agreed with almost an entire Josh Z rant. BTW Josh did you get your Eve of Destruction? :p

  5. Freakyguy666

    I would say the vast majority of this site’s visitors come here to find out if a particular disc is worthy of purchase because the reviews are very technical and as objective as could be expected.

    Given the many versions of theatrical blockbusters these days (i.e. 2D, 3D, IMAX, ATMOS 2D, ATMOS 3D, etc.) it would be very helpful if the reviews indicated which version was best/recommended and why. It would certainly help to draw more readers and set apart reviews on this site from plethora of reviews on the net. Currently, I’m not sure this review even indicates which version was reviewed.

    Just a suggestion…

  6. I’m really curious how many folks around here are with Luke and burned out on the MCU. I can understand thinking the market is over-saturated with comic book movies in general, but I’m chomping at the bit for every new Marvel movie. Whenever I find out someone watched and loved Iron Man and The Avengers but never watched Thor or Captain America, I’m just flabbergasted. I have the kind of faith in the Marvel brand that most had for Pixar, at least until recently. Every Phase 3 rumor gets me excited. Even Agents of SHIELD, while disappointing, I think has the potential to have an awesome second season if it proves successful enough.

    • Muttley

      I’ve been waiting for this (the era of the comic book movie)since I was a kid reading comic books in the late 80’s early 90’s (which in restrospect was a pretty bleak time for comic books…but I digress).

      Seeing all of my adolescent literary fanatasies come to life on the big screen has been pretty fulfilling thus far. Kinda makes me feel like a kid again.

      I always go into comic book movies a bit cautiously optimistic. I do think that most of the creative teams that take on these projects do so with a bit of knowledge about the subject matter and its history as well as a respect for its fan-base. So far Marvel has been able to bridge the gap and entertain both the comic book fans and movie fans alike. I look forward to whatever else they decide to throw up on the big screen.

      • Seriously, people complaining about these Marvel Films kinda remind me of kids getting home from school and whining “Ice Cream? Again?!!

        Too much of a good thing is better than not enough of a good thing, or not any of a good thing at all. I consider the fact that we are getting these characters being handled seriously at all to be a blessing. And if the worst you can come up is that they all seem the same, well then turn in your Geek card now, because they are not the same. We will be getting Hulk films and may just finally get the perfect Hulk film. While the first was a better tone the second had more action, though I am glad norton is no longer in the mix.

    • JM

      My in-laws watched/loved Iron Man 1, 3, and The Avengers all for RDJ, with no idea what the MCU is. Which probably explains the box office. You couldn’t get them to watch ‘Thor’ with a Mjölnir hammer. Though I was able to talk them into ‘Gravity.’ I didn’t like T1 or ‘Special America’ either. The only Phase 3 rumor that got me excited was Planet Hulk…

  7. William Henley

    Sadly, I am having to work all weekend and got social engagements at night, so I won’t be able to see this until Thursday or Friday. At least if I go to the 11AM showing I should be the only one in the auditorium, and that can be fun. Most fun I ever had at a theater was when I took my goddaughter to see “Mamma Mia” as we were the only ones in the theater and were able to do a running commentary throughout the movie (and that movie deserved it!)

    Anyways, I haven’t been too thrilled myself with the declining quality of Marvel’s francise, but disagree with when it started. Captain America was the pinnacle, but The Avengers was the start of the decline in my opinion (that movie was AWFUL!) At least Iron Man 3 was fun (if poorly written).

    The early reviews I have heard from friends is that Thor 2 is better than the first one, which gives me hope. I will know in a week. Sadly, this means that I am going to have to stay out of the obligatory “What did you think of Thor 2” post that Josh is sure to post next week.

    It seems that I am always able to catch the smaller movies on opening weekend, but huge movies that are sure to have discussions something always seems to come up and I end up catching the movie a week or two later.