Thor: The Dark World
Even a brilliant foil can’t save this weak entry in the Marvel series
When the universe began, light spread throughout the cosmos. Light is usually a good thing, but it did not please a race called the Dark Elves. Their leader Malekith (Christopher Eccleston: Doctor Who) responded with Aether, a weaponized energy source, to bring back darkness and destroy the universe.
It didn’t work.
King Bor of Asgard and his son Odin (Anthony Hopkins: RED 2) led a successful war against the Dark Elves. But instead of destroying the Aether, Bor hid it.
The trouble with that plan is that someone always finds these impossibly hidden world-destroying things. In this case, that someone is Jane Foster (Natalie Portman: Thor), who was hoping to find her lost otherworldly love Thor (Chris Hemsworth: Rush). After an Aether encounter, Jane is infected with, well, something. The Aether’s nature remains undecided, so I’ll defer to Hitchcock and refer to it as the MacGuffin.
Once Jane becomes the MacGuffin, Thor reappears to whisk her off to Asgard to get rid of the infection. But the Dark Elves are on the hunt for Jane. Thor must stop the threat from destroying Asgard, London and the other seven realms that we hear about ad nauseum but never see.
Sound confusing? It is. Not because it’s complicated, but because it’s poorly written. Thor: The Dark World suffers from poor scripting, wooden acting and special effects that could have been accomplished on a Macintosh in a college dorm room. It’s a pity the Norse god couldn’t save himself from this movie.
While charming enough in his first venture as Thor, Hemsworth has become considerably stiffer. He can scream, he can squint and he can flex, but anything else is too taxing. When wooing Jane, he occasionally manages a smile. Still, their relationship continues to be one of the most awkward and unbelievable in Marvel movie history.
Some fault lies with Portman, who again sleepwalks through her role. Jane is the movie’s plot device, a part acted by CGI red goo for the film’s first 30 minutes. It’s sad that an actress of Portman’s caliber is relegated to passing out, slapping her boyfriend and looking beautiful.
The biggest problem is reason. A disaster is ripping apart London, and only one superhero shows up to stop the slaughter? Where are the other Avengers? I like to think that during these times of crisis Marvel superheroes are all in the SHIELD headquarters, waiting to be given a hall pass to save the world. Or perhaps they all gather at Tony Stark’s place, drink beers and watch the carnage on CSPAN.
The single bright spot in The Dark World is Tom Hiddleston (The Hollow Crown) as the ever-treacherous and amusing Loki. Naturally charismatic and expressive, he easily steals scenes from both his heroic nemesis and seasoned actors like Hopkins. With very little writing, Hiddleston conveys Loki’s anger, hurt and frightening intelligence. At my screening, he was greeted with cheers usually reserved for the star.
Even a brilliant foil can’t save this epically silly entry in the Marvel series. Loki fans should wait for his scenes to pop up on YouTube and be spared the price of a ticket and the experience of seeing Chris Hemsworth grunt and grumble through an overlong film.