Posted November 1, 2013 by Mikael Angelo Francisco in Movies/TV

MOVIE REVIEW: Thor: The Dark World

Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Studios
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Christopher Eccleston, Jamie Alexander, and Anthony Hopkins
Directed by Alan Taylor

Philippine Release Date: October 30, 2013
Runtime: 120 minutes (2 hours)
MTRCB Rating: PG-13

Looking back, I didn’t even think Thor would get a sequel. I always thought it was boring compared to the World War II action in Captain America (read my review here) and the high-flying technological high jinks of the Iron Man movies (here’s a review of the third one, by the way). Maybe it was just my bias talking; I never really liked Thor in the comics. Sure, he’s an important character, and any Avengers team without him just feels like, I dunno, just the Defenders or something. However, I really couldn’t establish any sort of connection with him – I couldn’t relate to him, and I never really understood why a character like him couldn’t put like 80% of the Marvel universe’s super-villains in a maximum-security prison or intensive care unit somewhere. (Then again, I like Beta Ray Bill more, who happens to be just about as relateable as Thor is, so maybe *I’m* the problem.) Anyway, I walked into the theater preparing myself for disappointment. I even came up with a list of “puntastic” adjectives I could use to describe this movie, if it were to turn out to be bad. “Thorrible, Thorrifying, Thorprisingly awful, Thoroughly bad, Thormenting, Thorely disappointing…”

Of course, I ended up putting my foot squarely in my mouth.

Kind of like how Spider-Man 2The Dark Knight, and The Wolverine turned out to be better movies than the first films in their respective franchises, Thor: The Dark World manages to outshine the first movie significantly. I guess Thor: The Dark World (can we just call it T:TDW from now on?) sort of benefits from being a sequel instead of a set-up movie; less time is devoted to introductions and “setting up” here, leaving more room for a bit of character development and drama. If you felt like the first film let you down, T:TDW is here to try to make amends – and for the most part, it succeeds.

In T:TDW, we return to Asgard, and we get to see more of the fallout from the events of the perpetually-referenced Battle of New York. We also see the fates of Asgard’s favorite son, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Thor’s favorite Earthling, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), and Tumblr’s favorite Marvel character, Loki (Tom Hiddleston, who does a rather spot-on impression of Owen Wilson that you should totally watch). As an ancient evil (the Dark Elf Malekith, played by Christopher Eccleston) rises once more and threatens to remake the universe according to his vision, unlikely alliances are formed, lives are lost, and it’s up to Thor to save everything and everyone he holds dear.

In reality, T:TDW‘s biggest strength lies in its cast. Tom Hiddleston as Loki remains the best part of this franchise. It’s a testament to the character’s appeal (and to Hiddleston’s charisma) when he remains fresh and interesting, even after serving as the main villain in The Avengers. Despite the fact that the god of mischief was directly responsible for the death and destruction in New York two years ago, there is enough depth in Hiddleston’s Loki to compel you to even sympathize with him. Chris Hemworth’s Thor has also developed in terms of character; from the arrogant, bloodthirsty godling that nearly caused an inter-realm war in the first movie, this Thor is now calmer, more dignified, and a better tactician. In many ways, he is more worthy of the hammer now than he has ever been. Jamie Alexander as Sif maintains a strong presence in the film despite the somewhat limited number of scenes she’s in, and Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster, while not remarkably stellar, is hardly forgettable, either. The romance between Asgardian and mortal unsurprisingly takes center stage, and through all the chaos and discord sewn by evil forces throughout the film, it is Thor’s love for Jane  Foster that resonates from start to finish, serving as both guiding light and motivation for the God of Thunder. Anthony Hopkins remains as regal as ever as the mighty Odin, and the nefarious visage of Christopher Eccleston as Malekith serves as a horrifying, if not convincingly dangerous, foil to Thor.

Special effects-wise, T:TDW delivers. The battle scenes are rich and action-filled, and the fighters are well-choreographed. Thor fights a bit smarter here than he used to in both the first film and The Avengers; he now knows how to use other tactics aside from “smack people with Mjolnir” (although that still remains his favorite move, and, well, you can’t really dispute its effectiveness). The background music can be a bit loud and overpowering at times, but overall, the audio and visual elements work together well enough.

Kind of a digression, but I feel like mentioning it anyway – I actually lost half of this review thanks to technological glitches. I’m guessing that’s payback for the bad Thor puns I came up with as preparation for the possibility of T:TDW sucking. I’m glad I was wrong, and to make up for it, here: T:TDW is Thoroughly entertaining, absolutely Thorrific, and Thortally worth the ticket price. I definitely enjoyed it more than Man of Steel, that’s for sure (read my review here, and the official FlipGeeks review here).

If there’s anything missing from T:TDW, it’s a grand sense of “epic-ness”. For a movie that takes place across the Nine Realms, there is a disturbing lack of any sense of peril or urgency in any realm save for Midgard and Asgard – and even there, it feels lacking. We see the destruction, but we don’t feel it happening – we don’t feel like anything is particularly in danger, even after the shinola hit the fan. Let’s not kid ourselves – we all know that the featured villain definitely won’t win, and T:TDW wastes no time in trying to make us think otherwise. At times, it feels less like a movie about mythology on a cosmic scale, and more like an obligatory entry in the continuing adventures of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While that approach does provide viewers with a solid two hours of entertainment, it’s also something that feels off when you’re dealing with a character like Thor. The dude’s uber-powerful; the least you could do is find some way to put him in some sort of believable peril, or to create a seemingly unconquerable obstacle for him. Then again, perhaps this could be attributed to the nature of the genre – after all, at the very core, it’s a superhero film, and what kind of self-respecting superhero film would let the hero lose (especially if the hero’s a god)?

Now, we’re all used to the idea of staying behind after the credits start to roll, so it’s no surprise that T:TDW has a mid-credits scene. (And man, what a mid-credits scene it is – comics fans will love it.) What’s worth noting, though, is that this film also has an end-credits scene, and I think most audiences would appreciate the second bonus scene more than the first. So yeah, pay due respect to the filmmakers, and you’ll be rewarded, kind of.

Gosh, I almost forgot – resist the urge to read the first letter of every paragraph in the body of this review (this is the last one), unless you want to be spoiled. And if the mid-credits scene left you scratching your head, well, FlipGeeks is here to take care of that problem! Click HERE for a closer look at the mid-credits scene, and what it means for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

RATING8 out of 10 Fangirls Swooning Every Time Loki Shows Up


Marvel Philippines (Like the official FB page here, and follow them on YouTube here) and Ayala Cinemas (check out their FB page here) deserve a thunderous round of applause for their special screening of Thor: The Dark World!

Mikael Angelo Francisco