Movie Review | Thor: The Dark World
Previously in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Iron Man and War Machine teamed up to take down Aldrich Killian and his Extremis followers, with Rhodey helping Tony through multiple anxiety attacks due to the latter's experience in The Avengers.
Movie summary: When Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) gets cursed with a powerful entity known as the Aether, Thor is heralded of the cosmic event known as the Convergence and the genocidal Dark Elves. (IMDb)
Part of the reason this review hadn't been posted before now was because I wasn't expecting the events of this movie to play such an important part in Avengers: Endgame and I felt I had to re-watch the movie (again). I'm still not going to spoil that movie - even if its own directors say it's okay to do so now - but I will say that the material covering The Dark World is treated better there than in this movie.
Yes, this is one of Marvel Studio's poorer efforts, even if it's not really that bad a film - it's just there. It's doubly disappointing considering how high the stakes are here, with Malekith and his Dark Elves intent on using the Aether (aka the Reality Stone) to black out all light in the universe and force all life to struggle in the darkness.
A cosmic level threat affecting all levels of reality? Why aren't the Avengers involved here? To be fair, a lot of Thor: The Dark World doesn't even take place on Earth, so it's not like they could help anyway. The final confrontation takes place in London, but is over well before any other heroes - or SHIELD, still a thing at this point - could possibly do anything to intervene.
That aside, the movie never feels particularly epic in scope proportionate to the threat posed by Malekith and it's all just a little underwhelming. There are some good moments here - with the battle in London showing that a Portal movie could not only work, but be good - but they are only moments, propped up by the efforts of the cast.
I know Chris Hemsworth doesn't think too highly of this movie, or even his own performance in it, but he's still always entertaining to watch at a minimum. And it should be little surprise that he's at his best when interacting with Tom Hiddleston's Loki, with the two actors clearly enjoying working with each other even if the material they're working with isn't too hot.
Unfortunately, the Earth-based characters suffer thanks to so much happening off-world this time, and Natalie Portman's Jane Foster is hampered the most thanks to being turned into a plot device rather than continuing to evolve her character from where she is by the end of Thor. Jane does get more involved in the third act, but it does feel a little too late to matter by that point.
As for Christopher Eccleston as Malekith? Wow, do I feel sorry for him. I know that a lot of his story was cut so more scenes with Loki could be added, but it was absolutely to the film's detriment. Why should we care about the threat the villain of the piece poses when we know nothing about him other than he is the movie's designated villain to be defeated?
Unfortunately, that's emblematic of Thor: The Dark World - none of it feels like it matters or is important in any way, so why should the audience care about what they're seeing? It's a movie which is literally coasting on the performance of its stars and the already-considerable goodwill that Marvel Studios had thanks to the global phenomenon which was The Avengers.
I don't think this is a bad movie or anywhere close to being considered such, but it sure as hell isn't a good film either. For me, it's the type of film where it's not bad enough to justify stopping watching it, but I'd never come close to recommending it as one to watch as anything other than part of a complete re-watching of the MCU - or a select few titles if you want to build towards Endgame.
Thor: The Dark World is often heralded as one of the MCU's lower points, and deservedly so. I wouldn't say it was a bad film at all, but none of the events here feel like they matter, which is quite the feat when the (paper-thin) villain wants to remake reality. Only the enjoyable cast interactions - and sudden, surprising relevance due to Avengers: Endgame - stop this from being one to avoid.