Hemsworth transitioned Thor from a reckless hot head to a responsible, mild mannered god at the end of the first film, leaving him as dull as the Man of Steel for “The Dark World.”
Review by David Feltman
“You were on TV, naked.”
Out of all the Marvel movie franchises, “Thor” is definitely the loveable underdog. Sure the action isn’t as big and explosive and the bad guys are largely obscure (Loki notwithstanding, of course), but there’s a certain charm that makes you want to like them. There’s a winning sense of humor and Chris Hemsworth was born for the title role, but in the end a “Thor” is never as satisfying as an “Iron Man” or even a “Captain America.”
The Marvel powers were wise to hand the directorial reigns over from Kenneth Branagh to the more action savvy Alan Taylor of “Game of Thrones” fame. The fight scenes are better as a result and the film is overall brighter and easier to see. Taylor does slip into the Zack Snyder style of washed out sepia tones and CG atmosphere anytime he visits the dark elf (read bad guys) home world, but on the whole the film is literally more colorful. Taylor also oversees an improved art design with imaginative and just slightly creepy creatures. The war masks of the dark elf baddies are blank and expressionless, adding just the right mix of menace and anonymity to the hammer fodder.
With the previous film’s sense of humor securely intact, the sequel’s biggest crux is its lack of emotional arc. Hemsworth transitioned Thor from a reckless hot head to a responsible, mild mannered god at the end of the first film, leaving him as dull as the Man of Steel for “The Dark World.” Luckily, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is as complex and intriguing as ever, seething with resentment and daddy issues in every scene. His playful exchanges with Hemsworth comprise the best bits of the film.
Mixing Norse mythology with comic book aesthetics and a real world setting makes it difficult to strike the right tone for “Thor” both on the big screen and in print. And “The Dark World” suffers the same problems. One fight scene involves Norse Gods and elves fighting each other in TIE Fighters. That may sound goofy enough to be entertaining on paper, but it feels misplaced and confusing on screen. The new “The Dark World” is fun and an improvement from the last installment, but it’s still the middle child of the Marvel movie family.
PS, skip the 3D glasses for this one.