THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Following the polarised fan reaction to Iron Man 3, there was a lot relying on Thor: The Dark World succeeding both with critics and fans. Naturally, Marvel Studios hired Game of Thrones alum Alan Taylor to direct the sequel, hoping that his experience with wide mythologies would help him create a film of epic proportions. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
Thor: The Dark World continues the story of the God of Thunder, who returns to Earth to visit his girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) only to discover that she has been infected with an ancient weapon that signals the return of a long forgotten race that seeks to destroy the universe.
One thing that Thor: The Dark World excels at is its visual effects. The effects are as great as you’d expect them to be for a film with a budget of $170 million. The Dark Elves’ attack on Asgard clearly took up much of the budget, and it was totally worth it. It’s not just during the action that the visual effects impress. Asgard has never looked better, nor has the Bifrost.
As for the action, Alan Taylor brings his Game of Thrones experience to craft brilliant action set pieces. The attack on Asgard is, of course, the standout sequence from the film. Watching Heimdall jump onto an invisible Dark Elf ship is simply outstanding. Considering the somewhat tame action seen in Kenneth Branagh’s film, the action in The Dark World is easily superior.
The score, composed by Brien Taylor, is quite possibly, the very best among the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Thor’s theme remains the standout of Marvel’s hero themes. The score adds a real sense of majesty to the film.
Unfortunately, the performances are as you’d expect. Chris Hemsworth proves once again how perfect he is in the role, whilst Tom Hiddleston and Anthony Hopkins do the same for their own roles. Rene Russo is given much more to do than she was in the first film as Thor’s mother Frigga, and she takes the opportunity to craft a character that audiences care about. On the other hand, the film is dragged down by the rather bland performances of Natalie Portman (Jane Foster) and Christopher Eccleston (Malekith).
The script is often criticised for following the typical marvel formula without offering anything significantly different. Also, the film just isn’t very funny. It relies on cheap humour such as Erik Selvig running around Stonehenge naked. The MCU has established a tone and The Dark World tries to follow it, whilst ignoring the most crucial factor, the humour.
Comic books films, both for Marvel and DC, have been criticised for having a problem with their villains. The Dark World‘s villain, Malekith, is the epitome of this trend. He looks scary but he is as one-dimensional as a villain can get. The side villains aren’t any better with Kurse (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) being nothing more than muscle. It boggles the mind why Marvel even bothered casting an actor of AAA’s talent only for him to spend the majority of his screen time standing around.
A common complaint of the first film that many comic book fans had been around the fact that Thor’s friends, known as ‘The Warrior’s Three’ were totally wasted. The same has to be said for Thor’s companions in the sequel. They have roughly the same amount of screentime, which was very little despite the talented actors in the roles. As Thor: Ragnarok has been released and seeing what was done with them, its safe to say Marvel has really messed up with these characters
The hilarious Chris O’Dowd is also in the film, for some reason. He has no purpose being in it and whenever he shows up, it highlights the issues regarding the Thor films’ handling of Jane Foster.
There was so much potential for The Dark World and it’s heartbreaking how weak and bland the film actually is. Though not the worst film in the MCU, it is easily down at the bottom end of the franchise.