I usually think reviewing movie trailers is pretty ludicrous, but I seriously doubt that my review on “Thor: the Dark World”, the sequel to “Thor”(2011) and also one of the latest entries in the Marvel Comics mega-franchise, would be inappropriate if it were only based on the trailer rather than the movie itself. The movie is essentially a 112-min teaser announcing another sequel to come later along with a few new additional characters, and it is depressing to report to you that what you saw in its trailer is all the movie can offer. You know you’re in problem when you come to discover that the trailer showed virtually everything in the climax to you, and this is one of such disappointing cases.
Like another recent Marvel Comics blockbuster “Iron Man 3”(2013), the movie starts its story not long after that epic catastrophe depicted in “The Avengers”(2012). After encountering and then falling in love with Thor(Chris Hemsworth), Dr. Jane Foster(Natalie Portman) has been trying to find any possible way to meet her beefy boyfriend from the outer space again since they happened to be separated from each other at the end of the previous film, but there has not been any particular breakthrough yet, and it is no surprise that she was rather pissed to know that he did not visit her during his recent business trip in “The Avengers”.
She soon gets her wish, but a big danger also comes along with that. The opening scene narrated by Anthony Hopkins, who plays Thor’s big daddy Odin, introduces the villains called Dark Elves, and we get a long explanation part coupled with the CGI battle scene which weirdly feels like the second-hand version of “The Lord of the Rings” movies. Dark Elves were defeated by Odin’s father and mostly killed in a big battle, but some of them managed to survive, and, once they see that their powerful weapon hidden by Odin’s father many eons ago is finally unsealed, they are determined to retrieve it because their big chance is coming again. They are going to use it when nine universes converge and align together, and that will bring the whole universes into the darkness which is, in my imaginal multi-dimensional view, probably located around the point before the Big Bang.
That dangerous weapon in question is called Aether, which pronunciation may amuse you a bit if you have ever heard about the Michelson–Morley experiment. As the Convergence is approaching, the portals between universes somehow begin to appear here and there around the Greenwich area in London, and Dr. Foster inadvertently goes into one of them while privately investigating this mysterious happening. Arriving at some place in the universe, she comes across Aether, and Aether, which looks like some smokey wine-colored fluid, goes inside her body instantly.
Now I realize that I forgot to describe what is going on in Asgard meanwhile, and the reason is simple; like Greek gods, the characters of Asgard are pretty simple and uninteresting although the movie emphasizes that they are biological creatures not entirely immortal(but they can live at least for 5,000 years). Thor and his merry band of comrades do the battles as usual for maintaining their control over the universes, and Odin and his wife Frigga(Rene Russo) are proud of their brave son while having some headaches due to their ever-naughty stepson Loki(Tom Hiddleston), who was captured by Thor after his big evil plan in “The Avengers” was thwarted.
As he did before, Hiddleston enjoys every moment of being mean and sarcastic, but I must point out that Loki is not a very compelling bad guy compared to the truly memorable comic book villains we have seen from other superhero movies. Loki is cunning and opportunistic in bland and predictable ways, so, whatever he does or feels, we always know that nature solely defines him, and we are not surprised by whatever he commits. Considering how well Hiddleston maintains the sense of humor in spite of the mediocrity surrounding him, I’d rather watch him in the remake of “The Mask”(1994).
Anyway, as soon as he sees that something bad is happening to his sweetheart, Thor quickly comes to the Earth with his mighty hammer, and then Jane is swiftly taken to Asgard by him, and then the movie goes on autopilot along with little surprise and obligatory action sequences. The Dark Elves led by Malekith(Christopher Eccleston) invade Asgard for getting Aether back, and Jane naturally becomes one of their main targets, and I do not spoil any of your entertainment if I tell you that Thor eventually requests some help from his bad step brother.
The action scenes in the movie are good, and they will satisfy you if you just look for action, but they do not carry much weight in the story which just keeps rolling from the background A to the background B with no particular sense of build-up. There is the big invasion scene in London as expected, but this climax looks quite timid compared to the mega-budget spectacle of “The Avengers”, and it seriously wasted one interesting potential involved with the maze of cosmic portal network formed around London. This could have been more fun, but what we get here is just one of those usual fight scenes in which CGI characters busily tumble or crash around the screen, and I found its action logics rather shaky and murky. The movie explains in advance that the law of gravity will be broken due to the rare cosmic event, but how can the characters move or run normally while bigger objects like cars are floated above the ground?
I cannot recommend “Thor: the Dark World” to you mainly because of my boredom and disappointment, but, considering its several minor improvements compared to the previous film, the movie may appeal to you more than me especially if you liked “Thor”. If you accepted Chris Hemsworth as Thor, he won’t disappoint you, and other actors do their best with the roles given to them. Natalie Portman is wasted again in her bland love interest role which mostly functions as a living container, and Stellan Skarsgård and Kat Dennings reprise their respective roles as the main comic relief of the story, and, as ever-reliable Heimdall, Idris Elba does a little more than before; he takes off his golden helmet at one point, and that is sort of refreshing.
Unlike some of you, I d0 not think Thor is an interesting superhero to be presented on the screen for his inherent two-dimensional personality, and “Thor: the Dark World” does not change my personal opinion at all. I understand that it tries to advance as an independent superhero franchise like its fellow Marvel franchises, but it only spins its wheel for more than 90 minutes, and we are only told in the end that we have to wait for the next movie to come(yes, please stay in the screening room during the end credit if you’re interested). You may be able to wait, but, folks, life already feels short to me.