Many of the current comic book films are hit or miss with me. I loved The Avengers, even to the point of having it on my ten best list for the year of its release. Unfortunately, the current offering from Marvel Studios, Thor: The Dark World is nowhere near that good. I have not seen the first Thor film, so comparisons aren’t appropriate, but having seen the newest Thor adventure, I’m not particularly eager to catch up with the first one.
As you can tell from the title, a lot of it is really dark and grungy, a milieu that is becoming quite tiresome in these action-packed films. The indecipherable plot has the characters jumping through time and space with great frequency. Much of the dialogue is either mumbled or buried underneath sound effects and a ponderous score that seems to have no variations on a theme.
The bulk of the original cast is back for another go-around through the galaxy. Star Chris Hemsworth has a line delivery that makes Sylvester Stallone sound like Laurence Olivier. It’s hard to imagine that Natalie Portman won an Oscar a few years back. Anthony Hopkins is, well, Anthony Hopkins. Kat Dennings, from TV’s Two Broke Girls, is apparently supposed to be comic relief. And several fine actors, including Stellan Skarsgaard, Idris Elba, and Rene Russo have very little to do. The one shining cast member is, once again, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Thor’s adopted brother. Not only is Hiddleston an excellent performer, he brings depth and interest to the character of Loki. Is Loki a pure villain, is he redeemable, does he have a good side? It doesn’t matter, as he is a true three-dimensional character in a one-dimensional story.
And speaking of which… yes, I did see Thor: The Dark World in 3-D, although not in IMAX. The 3-D was good and showed off many of the excellent visual effects at their best. But it’s also not necessary to see this film in 3-D. If you prefer to only spend the extra money to see 3-D when it’s truly spectacular, then you can skip the extra charge for the glasses this time.
The original Thor was co-directed by Kenneth Branagh and Joss Whedon, which logic says probably made for a much better movie. Alan Taylor, who directed Thor: The Dark World has been plying his craft pretty much exclusively on series television until now, and a project of this size may have been too much of a reach for him.
However, there must be an audience eager for another Thor adventure, as Thor: The Dark World grossed $86 million at the box office on its opening weekend. Based on what I saw on screen, I’d have to venture a guess that at least $80 million of that came from 12-year-old boys who play way too many video games. I also think that the reason I liked The Avengers so much was the use of multiple superheroes, which kept things interesting. Two hours of Thor and company by themselves was too much.