'Thor: The Dark World': Where It Saved The Day & Where It Left Us Wanting More

Features
by The Playlist Staff
November 11, 2013 2:22 PM
18 Comments
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The Second Act

Not only is the story generic, but there's also not really that much of it. The first act has at least a laudable sense of mystery, the third has some satisfying payoff, but the second act is nothing but busy work: the equivalent of stalling for time. Natalie Portman at least has the good sense to spend most of it asleep (not the best use of an Oscar-winning actress, we'd volunteer), but poor Hemsworth and Hiddleston have to trudge around the world's least interesting planet to set up an obviously telegraphed shock (if you really thought Loki had cut Thor's arm off, congratulations on seeing your first ever movie), and a death that ultimately has no stakes. It drags terribly, it's drab on screen, and it's decidedly lacking in the wit that leavens the film elsewhere.

The cinematography

While we're glad that Marvel employed a photographer with a tripod with three legs of the same length for the sequel, we can't say we're particularly enamored of the photography here. Kramer Morgenthau takes over from the original's Haris Zambarloukos, and while it's handsome enough in spots, it's a rather drab and dour affair, visually, for much of the film. Morgenthau and Taylor have both worked on features, but TV is their bread-and-butter, and while that works to the benefit of the film in terms of grounding it in a kind of reality, it also makes it look rather flat, quite often. Despite what felt like 70% of the first "Thor" taking place in the same New Mexico street, somehow Branagh's film had a more cinematic scope. This sometimes feels closer to "Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D" than it does to "The Avengers."  

Thomwhere In The Middle

The female characters

Recently, Natalie Portman brought up the fact that "Thor: The Dark World" passes the Bechdel Test and, on the whole, has a number of seriously strong female characters. Portman's Jane has more to do this time around, even though she frequently looks bored and for the second half of the movie is possessed by some evil goop from another galaxy. Kat Dennings fares better; she gets all the best lines and has a hunky love interest in the form of her sub-intern. One thing that holds seemingly limitless potential, but doesn't get developed nearly enough, is a potential love triangle between Thor, Jane and Sif (Jaimie Alexander), an Asgardian warrior who is also super adorable. Having the "office wife" idea transposed to mythological proportions is a brilliant one, and giving the two female leads some conflict and tension is more than necessary; it's downright ideal. But there were clearly a few threads of "Thor: The Dark World's" storyline that had to be shaved down, and this relationship was one of them. Yes, "Thor: The Dark World" passes the Bechdel Test, with some of the better female characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but if the Sif/Jane/Thor love triangle could have been developed further, it would have made this superhero saga truly super.

So, what do you think? Do you have think "Thor: The Dark World" threw down a hammer of quality or did it swing and miss? Was there anything they could've done better? What did they get right? What can Marvel fix for future movies? Let us know below. -Oliver Lyttelton, Drew Taylor

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18 Comments

  • Allan | February 28, 2014 11:31 PMReply

    This movie missed a great opportunity. Loki, being the mental case that he is suppose to be. would never abandon the fight to avenge his mother. He even said "You can trust my rage!" to Thor.
    But then he just left the fight. I kept hoping to see him appear in the final fight to help avenge his mother, but he was completely left out.
    This was completely out of character for Loki. I mean really, his plans would have come to nothing if the whole universe was pushed back into darkness.

  • AJG | December 4, 2013 11:32 AMReply

    While I may agree with most of your analysis, I have to STRONGLY disagree with your insinuation that Marvel is doing a disservice to viewers by not creating their own characters. It's a comic book movie. The whole reason the fan base watches these movies is to see their favorite characters be brought to life on screen... including their favorite villains. Don't encourage them to create new characters, they have PLENTY to work from. If the newest Batman trilogy taught us anything it's that you can take these beloved (well loved to hate) characters and give them new life for a fan base that may never have thought of these characters in that way. Still loved by the true comic book lovers. Still interesting for a new generation. Still original. That's Marvel's problem: not that they need to create new characters but that they need to develop their villains further.

  • raf jordan | November 15, 2013 7:17 PMReply

    this article is nuts lol. THOR: TDW was the best marvel film to date, and may well be the best sci-fi film in years. it's fantastic and virtually every single level.

  • JT | November 15, 2013 4:22 AMReply

    you left out the subsection for story continuity... like how loki would have known what thor said to odin at the end of Thor's first movie about being a wiser king when apparently he fell off the realm. I mean little mistakes like that are glaringly stupid and there were several along the way in Thor a Dark World. But I must say the infinity gems would be a nice set up for Avengers 2 idiots in lots of space battles that they somehow keep winning

  • Michelle | November 14, 2013 9:51 AMReply

    A decent review of the movie, with some good points. That being said, you might want to refrain from implying that your readers are blockheaded idiots (I'm referring to the "if you really thought Loki had cut Thor's arm off, congratulations on seeing your first ever movie" line).

  • James | November 13, 2013 11:20 AMReply

    The only thing I'll say is that in the first Thor film, Loki snuck a bunch of villains into Asgard using a path that even Heimdall didn't know about. That was why they brought Loki along this time, so they could escape without anyone knowing how to follow them. They followed a plot point established back in 2011.

    Otherwise, great review!

  • Maha | November 17, 2013 2:19 PM

    Exactly. They've followed a point made in the first movie- one point for continuity, Marvel!

  • Freddie | November 13, 2013 12:49 AMReply

    Ya'll are just duped by this Hollywood claptrap. Really a blonde norwegian looking cat with a damn mini-hammer. Ya'll actually went 2 movies of that shit?

  • Bforreal | November 21, 2013 11:21 PM

    Lol. You guys have the best two comments of the night. Bravo! And, oh, I definitely saw both and liked them for what they were - silly, entertaining, simple.

  • Joe Realism | November 13, 2013 8:49 PM

    Dude, I totally believe you're black.

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  • ugh | November 12, 2013 3:55 PMReply

    So are we to assume Anthony Hopkin's Odin was killed by Loki? Or are they gonna take the safe route & Odin was put in "The Forever Sleeping Chamber" or whatever other inane third tier comic book artifact that was put in the books decades ago?

  • Maha | November 17, 2013 2:25 PM

    I think Odin slipped into his (convenient) Odin-sleep again.
    There's a scene in the movie where Odin is arguing with Thor and stumbles, for no reason.
    It's not a mistake, that stumble. It's quite ambiguous, and never explained- he doesn't explain it himself, and never says anything regarding his health. I'm sure with Thor giving him troubles and his queen being murdered, Odin is not in the best of health.
    I have 2 possibilities regarding Odin:
    A) Loki has imprisoned a weak and ill Odin (not at his full power) somewhere.
    B) Loki is hiding a sleeping Odin somewhere.

  • ck | November 12, 2013 1:16 PMReply

    What really pissed me off was the totally unnecessary 'woman in a refrigerator' trope applied to Frigga, who gets a small badass fight scene to compensate for the fact that she is transparently killed off to fuel Thor's heroic battle against the Big Bad... and I just don't buy the Thor/Jane romance, which was lacking in chemistry from the first movie, and has less dimension than Megara and Hercules as far as mortal-woman-and-heroic-god romances go.

  • Alan B | November 12, 2013 4:09 AMReply

    I love how the ONLY entertaining part of the film - the late second act with Loki (i.e. the ONLY interesting character in the film) - is the one you have a problem with. Jesus, yeah Loki selling FUNNY gags (i.e. not Kat Dennings running into a restaurant and riffing) and Loki and Thor having believable and entertaining conflict ... yeah, that's the part of the film that should have been excised. The first act and the start of the second is clumsy and unfocused, filled with completely boring, nothing characters and dumb motivations, yet the Loki sequences should have been deleted? Wow.

  • elenat | November 12, 2013 4:06 AMReply

    Loki isn't necessary)))) May I ask you, who needs all those movies, if not a fandom?)))

  • Said in Los Angeles | November 11, 2013 11:00 PMReply

    Though I felt the main villain was lame, the thing that irked me above all else was Odin being cheated out of getting revenge for the murder of his wife. He gets made enough at Thor’s arrogance to banish him to Earth in the first movie, and cast him as unworthy to hold the hammer. Yet in this movie, Odin's wife is murdered and he doesn't get the urge to do some revenge/avenge killing? Would have been great to see Odin/Thor fight back to back to back against Dark Elf/The Horned Bad Guy.

    Also, Thor’s mother is murdered and his brother killed and the only thing he can think about is getting back to Jane ‘Dark Phoenix’ Foster? A wasted opportunity.

  • Mugroar | November 11, 2013 3:33 PMReply

    Totally agree with this article. I saw the film on Thursday night, and as excited as I was for it, I can't say I was terribly into it as I was watching it.
    -The lazy opening voiceover providing 100% exposition in regards to what the film's story is going to be about made me roll my eyes.
    -Loki was indeed completely wasted until 60% through the movie. Even pacing-wise, I didn't feel in the first half of the movie that it was building up to the point that he was going to become a major player in the story. Obviously it was going to happen (this isn't the first movie I've ever seen), but in the realm of the MOVIE, I didn't feel that urgency or the nagging feeling that Loki might have to be the key to defeating Malekith.
    -The villain was horribly bland and so were his intentions.
    -Killing off Frigga was so out of nowhere and I didn't feel any emotional impact. Her death was literally a mechanic to push forward the plot/reveal more of Loki's character, yes, but it wasn't done so very gracefully.
    -Once Loki joined up with Thor, the movie did get quite noticeably more enjoyable. From there it was fun, humorous, and Loki's antics always had me grinning.
    -At first, the heavy amount of humor seemed completely imbalanced. Subtle little things are well and fine, but then you throw in a news broadcast showing a naked Erik running around like a madman at Stonehenge. Not subtle in the least. By the time the final climactic battle came around, the humor was in full force, and it practically turned into a fantasy comedy! So many little things happened in the final battle that were hilarious, and all of it combined in a short amount of time - well, I'm not sure if it was all supposed to overshadow the heroics of saving the world, but it sure did.

    All of this said, I will definitely see it a second time in a few weeks, and knowing what I know now, I'm sure I'll enjoy it more. However, I will always have this handful of complaints, but no movie is ever 100% perfect.

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