Thu
Oct 31 2013 10:30am

Thor: The Dark World Is SO MUCH FUN

Thor: The Dark World non-spoiler movie review

I have seen Thor: The Dark World and LO, I have loved it with a deep and abiding love that would take me back into the IMAX immediately if it weren’t for the fact that I need to pack for a trip to Brighton and the World Fantasy Convention therein. Apparently there were TWO post-credits Easter eggs! Let it be a testament to how excited I was to get home and write this review that I didn’t stick around to see whether or not there’d be a second one!

This film was a beautifully choreographed dance of gravitas and levity, featuring fantastic effects (that were especially spectacular in IMAX 3-D), gorgeous sets (ASGARD!) and very enjoyable performances from everyone graced with screen time. It was admittedly the kind of film where plot details are painted in big hand-wavy strokes, but simultaneously the kind of film where you’re happy to let your critical faculties take a backseat as you gasp and giggle and flinch from the larger-than-life-ness of it all.

I feel pretty confident in saying that if you enjoyed the first Thor movie, you’ll enjoy this one. Certainly I found myself liking it even better than the first.

A very lightly spoilery review (no plot twist talk, just set-up Stuff That Happens, roughly as spoilery as a trailer) follows.

The premise itself is drafty as a barn: Dark Elves fought a battle ages ago to destroy the Nine Realms in an attempt to return the universe to its original darkness. They lost! But Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) intended to use a tremendously powerful and indestructible weapon known as THE AETHER to win the battle, until Asgardians prevented him from doing so. Malekith flees, vowing to return another day and DESTROY THE UNIVERSE; the Asgardians find that it’s impossible to destroy the Aether, so they settle for locking it away somewhere where no one can ever find it—until Jane Foster does, by accident, kicking off More Plot.

Thor: The Dark World non-spoiler movie review

So already, of course, one might ask why Malekith didn’t just LEAD with using the Aether since it’s so awesomely, inexorably powerful; one might also ask how the Dark Elves are as humanoid as they are when their natural habitat is a lightless, dark matter universe; one might furthest ask why modern-day Asgardians have so much trouble with the Dark Elves when they were able to beat them so long ago (and this is actually an interesting world-building question: has Asgard dwindled in military might since defeating the Dark Elves?).

Anyway, one might ask all those questions if one weren’t getting a faceful of stunning CGI (and, er, beautifully rendered scenes of post-bath Thor flexing his sculpted back at the camera while looking out at Asgard I AM NOT EVEN JOKING THIS IS A THING THAT HAPPENS) making one coo ooh, pretty at one’s film-going partner every two minutes.

Fast-forward a few eons and Thor’s bringing “peace” to the Nine Realms with his hammer, like an Asgardian Pete Seeger. We get a nice nod to the fact that the Nine Realms contain more than white people, but if you’re going to put Tadanobu Asano in a film you could probably do better than giving him two scenes and as many lines of dialogue—he’s Hogun, one of the Warriors Three! Surely he could’ve gotten up to more plot shenanigans the way Fandral, Volstagg, and Sif do! I was, however, pleased to see Idris Elba’s Heimdall have more of a role in this film.

Meanwhile, Jane Foster’s attempting to go on hilariously awkward dates in a bid to get over Thor (who hasn’t called in two years), Dr. Erik Selvig is streaking at Stonehenge while babbling about the Convergence, and Darcy is still perfectly, brilliantly, wonderfully Darcy and we are married and happy together she’s got herself an intern’s intern in Ian, a Rory-esque guy who is to Darcy as Darcy is to Jane.

Thor: The Dark World non-spoiler movie review

Loki’s in prison doing his Loki thing—being by turns petulant and heartfelt with Frigga, inscrutable and interesting to anyone else, reading books at inappropriate times—until all Hel breaks loose and Thor needs to ask for his help. Then it just gets too excellent for words as the Thor and Loki Show gets on the road, and I could genuinely watch an entire film that is nothing but Loki hectoring Thor while doing shape-shifty impressions of people he knows. And you know Loki would never tire of it either!

Thor: The Dark World non-spoiler movie review

There were just so many fantastic character beats, all timed to keep up with the breakneck pace of Plot, and I was completely delighted by all the Thor-in-London moments (“How do I get to Greenwich”? I now want an entire alt-plot where Thor fails to save the universe because he ended up in North Greenwich instead). Some last thoughts:

  • I could listen to Christopher Eccleston threatening to destroy my universe forever (surely he’s saved it enough times as the Doctor!)
  • DARCY I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. DARCY YOU ARE SO COOL.
  • There are so many shoes in this film! Shoes are a thing!
  • This was definitely my favourite Stan Lee cameo.
  • I adored the design of the Dark Elves’ ships—like upright swords swiveling through the air. Utterly beautiful.
  • This film features Christopher Eccleston ploughing a massive alien spaceship into London. It’s Bizarro World Doctor Who!  
  • WOW does that mid-credits Easter Egg not fill me with confidence about the Aesir’s character-judging abilities. I mean, more so than usual.

What did everyone else think?

(Possible spoilers ahead in the comments for those still waiting to see it...)


Amal El-Mohtar is the author of The Honey Month, a collection of stories and poems written to the taste of 28 different kinds of honey. She has twice received the Rhysling award for best short poem, and her short story “The Green Book” was nominated for a Nebula award. She also edits Goblin Fruit, an online quarterly dedicated to fantastical poetry. Follow her on Twitter, where she is prone to bouts of extraordinary sillyness and sometimes puns. 

“Jane Foster science” images via Tumblr.

 

18 comments
Kate Nepveu
1. katenepveu
Does the spoiler warning at the _end_ of this post mean that there will be spoilers in comments or that part of the post got eaten?

I didn't much care for the first _Thor_ movie, but your delight is lovely to read.
Chris Lough
2. TorChris
We added the spoiler warning at the end so people who have already seen it in the U.K. and other countries can talk about the movie. It's not out in the U.S. yet, though, and since a substantial portion of this site's readership is located there we're just trying to be careful.

We'll have more posts on the film when it comes out in the U.S., though, so everyone can join in the fun!

Now just to be extra safe...

BY THE HAMMER OF THOR, THE PROCEEDING COMMENTS MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!
Tom Smith
3. phuzz
Wait, so, big entertainment thing is coming out in the UK before the US? What's that about? Everyone knows that the rest of the world isn't as good as America and therefore can't see things until later because of REASONS.
Also, your review has pretty much sold me on this film.
Kate Nepveu
4. katenepveu
Thank you for the clarification.

So anyone wanna tell me if any of the women get fridged?
swario
5. swario
I never understood why there is so much excitement for the post-credit scenes. I think the focus should be on the 2 hours leading up to the credits.

You just literally finished watching a new release and you don't even think about enjoying it because right away you're looking forward to the next movie in the franchise.
Amal El-Mohtar
6. amalmohtar
Kate: one woman dies, but she gets a really cool battle scene first, and she dies defending another woman. Admittedly her death then motivates a lot of manpain, but since the woman in question was also a bad-ass warrior, I was OK with it personally and didn't think of it as a fridging.
Kate Nepveu
7. katenepveu
. . . uh.

Thank you. I think I need to go find comprehensive spoilers to see how I feel about this, however, rather than blurt out all the many things that immediately come to mind.
swario
8. StuartB
Yup, there be spoilers. I know I'm going to hate this movie if Sif dies and Natalie Portman doesn't.
C R L
9. Maac
I have such a crush on Kat Dennings. I'm not even going to qualify that with "girl-" -- nope, I just love and adore her, the end.
swario
10. Petar Belic
It was GLORIOUS.

Very entertaining - although they did have to do some plot gymnastics to get there, and I specifically am talking about the Jane's first off-world foray and the cave. Oh my god the cave.

Anyway, go see it, it's fantastic.
Amal El-Mohtar
11. amalmohtar
Maaaan I can't wait until this film is more widely released so I can really get into the nitty-gritty of spoilers. I mean I'm still being coy here.
swario
12. CE Murphy
I also adored the design of the ships. All of them, actually: I loved the Viking longship stylings of the Asgardian ships too! But the elvish ships were utterly stunning. And somehow I missed the irony of Eccleston crashing a ship into London. *laughs*

I was pretty pissed off at that character death, although (I said, cautiously trying to work my way around spoilers) it was a rare case where I actually thought the redux cause and effect of that whole scenario were worthy plot-driving choices. In this particular case I don't think it was fridging.

And speaking of redux, holy crap, two levels of conversations going on through the entire Thor and Loki Show! SO GOOD! OMG, SO GOOD! There can never be enough Thor & Loki Show!
Amal El-Mohtar
13. amalmohtar
CE Murphy: I was gutted by her death! I was immediately like BUT WAIT NO THIS IS ASGARD AND THERE'S MAGIC SCIENCE AND SCIENCE MAGIC NOOO WHAT! But yeah, the redux thing is what it is AND (as Liz Bourke just pointed out to me) Thor 3 could not have the antagonist doing quite what the antagonist is doing if that character death had not occurred.

I mean really. Think about that for two seconds. AUGH.

So perhaps a wider systemic problem, but one I was OK with in the grand scheme of things, and maybe Thor 3 will have her back with Magic Science shenanigans, I d'know.
swario
14. CE Murphy
Yeah. I am in fact not *entirely* convinced by that death (she was visibly breathing in the mourning shot, causing me to be very surprised moments later at the scene emphasising her deadness), so...yes. If she returns through Magic Science Shenanigans I won't be surprised or AT ALL SAD. :)

And yes, absolutely, I truly don't think the story could be made to unfold without that particular death. It's the only one that could achieve the actions on the part of the character it motivated, and given that I am not generally soft on fridge deaths...yeah. I think they did okay there.
swario
15. Cameron Johnston
For me it was a movie of two parts, the first part, in the main, felt a bit too drawn-out and a little dull, but with fantastic visuals. The second part was superb, with anything involving Loki and Thor, or comedy shenanigans back on Earth being particulalry great to watch. (Any scene with Loki on-screen is guaranteed brilliance.) Everybody seemed to enjoy the amusingly *blatent* gratuitous Thor-bath-shot - what, they are purposly doing this with men for a change? ;)

I thought that the complex love/hate relationship between Loki and his adopted family was particularly well done.
Kate Nepveu
16. katenepveu
Cameron Johnston @ #15, though I haven't seen this yet, it wouldn't be new! Both the first _Thor_ and _Captain America_ movies had the female leads giving the shirtless male leads blatant up-and-downs.
Beth Mitcham
17. bethmitcham
I think "fridged" is exactly the right word -- it was clearly there to drive Thor & Loki's collusion and Odin's grief. The women characters generally do not do as well in this movie (in terms of agency or competence), which is a shame because I thought the original Thor was actually pretty good about that. Jane doesn't do science (despite many opportunities) until late in the movie because she is so busy feinting or longing for her boyfriend. In Asgard she is more distracted by clothes than by the cool technology. She rarely gets to banter. Darcy is cute and Sif is awesome, although I like to think she just wants to get Thor in bed but not marry him despite Odin's fondest hopes.

I felt in compensation Thor should have not worn pants in the bath scene.

But the visuals were great, I enjoyed the pace but then I never mind a little digression for a pretty scene, great line, or cheap joke in these kind of movies. I didn't get the Scientist Jane I was hoping for, but Thor/Loki was fun, Odin was pleasably unreasonable, the cameos went well, and the final battle scene was enjoyable.
Steven Halter
18. stevenhalter
I thought it was a great deal of fun also. The female in question who died did need to be removed from the action in some fashion for Thor 3. I'm not sure if killing was needed (or if that was what really happened).
Lot's of good action, dialogue, humor, ...
The ending was quite intriguing.
End clip 1 sets up many things.
End clip 2 was more fun.

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