Review: Thor – The Dark World

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I won’t be talking about the comic books and the characterizations in the movie as I don’t think it’ll be completely helpful.

Thor is one of those Marvel characters where I had a lot of trepidation in how he was going to be portrayed in a movie.  Kenneth Branagh truly did justice to the character by keeping him closer to the legendary Jack Kirby creation as opposed to the mystical creature he became over the decades from the 80’s until now in the comics – more science fiction than fantasy.  In the first film, we’re left with a heartbroken Thor that is longing for his mortal love, Jane Foster, after saving Asgard from his wicked brother Loki and destroying the bifrost – his only way back to Earth.

This film is far from perfect, but what I do believe is that this is a much more solid sequel to the Thor franchise than Iron Man 2 (and 3, in my opinion) was to the Iron Man franchise.  The one theme that really hit home in this movie is that during the many millennia reign of Asgard, there were many threats to not just the realms but the entire universe that they’ve had to put in check.  One such universal threat was Maliketh (the Accursed).  Maliketh, the ruler of the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim realm want to bring darkness back to the universe that was infected with the light of life and creation and usurped their ruthless control over the universe.  Maliketh pledged to bring darkness back to the universe by using the Aether, a sentient force of fluid dark matter that is older than the universe itself.  During the convergence, a time when all of the realms are aligned every 5000 years, he would fuse with the Aether and use its power along with the convergence to finally bring darkness to light, and death to life throughout the universe.  However, during the last convergence, he was defeated by Odin’s father, Bor, and the Aether was taken by Bor and hidden deep within the Asgardian vault where no one would find it again. Defeated, Maliketh and his remaining forces leave their realm for parts unknown.  Thus, we pick up two years later after the events of the first movie as Thor and his warrior crew do battle in the various realms, bringing peace to realms that were overtaken by those thought they saw weakness in the Asgardian reign.

Mailketh:  Played by the uncanny Christopher Eccleston (the 9th Dr. Who), is the embodiment of malevolence and nihilism.  He and his dark elf forces have one mission in life – destroy everything.  This is to the point where they willingly and gratefully give their lives at their master’s command to achieve any goal.  One criticism of critics is that they just weren’t impressed with Maliketh as a character.  Quite frankly, he’s the type of character I truly like in these types of movies.  He was relentless, completely committed to his cause and wasn’t swayed by the odds – only that the end result occurs as planned.  His attacks are vicious and deliberate, but executed with stealth and nimbleness.  Quite frankly, he was exactly the type of villain that was needed in this series – an intelligent character to counter the brutish nature of our hero.

Loki:  Definitely the fan favorite, reprised by Tom Hiddleston, is back.  On the heels of the first Thor movie, Loki is sentenced to life in the dungeons and is bidding his time until he can make his escape.  However, we get to see a very different side of Loki this time around.  We get a peek behind the mask of the trickster God.  We get a peek at a man who is haunted by his past and present, while trying to plant himself on a throne for the future.  Frigga, Odin’s wife and Thor’s mother, loves Loki like her own son.  The bond between them is more than even Loki will admit, but Frigga is the one thing that Thor and Loki can both agree upon.  How does the God of Lies hold power when only the truth will set him free?

The storyline in itself was a bit on the light side as there were some elements to the story that were a bit senseless as characters did things or overlooked things in the movie that didn’t make sense.  For one, Heimdall (Idris Elba), as the all-seeing guardian of the bifrost and rainbow bridge – he was a bit blinded in terms of what he was to know and when.  Heimdall can oversee trillions of individuals at once, but is allowed to completely miss events that walk right up to his doorstep?  I’m not talking about the Dark Elf cloaking technology which he can’t see through (that makes sense), but when dark elves can literally walk into Asgard – in front of him – unseen – I have a problem with that plotting.  With that said though, we finally got to see Heimdall in action – and it was glorious.

All in all, I enjoyed this flick a lot.  I’ve read a few other reviews and many of them complain about the Aether aspect of the storyline – I have to yawn at that criticism.  The movie wasn’t about the Aether or even Maliketh – it was about coming to terms with who you are and those you love.  It was about Thor coming to terms with his backstabbing and mischievous brother Loki.  It was about Odin realizing his legacy is built upon the bodies of Asgardian and other beings that threaten the realms and how that’s shaped him as a king.  It’s about Thor realizing that whatever love he may have (even though not directly shown) for Sif – his heart will always be with Jane Foster.  It’s about the bonds that unite and sometimes strangle familial ties.  The Dark World wasn’t just about the realm of the Dark Elves and their desire to snuff out the light of the universe, but the darkness that resides in us all and the courage to resist that darkness even when the odds (and trust) are against you.  Thor:  The Dark World took Thor to a deeper, more introspective place – a place where he now knows who he is and what he wants.  The question is – at what cost?  The last scene of the movie tells us all that the cost of following his heart instead of his duty may be more than any of us can pay.

The P.S. Section:

If you see the 3D showing, you get to see a 5 minute trailer of the Captain America Winter Soldier movie.  I’m not advocating for 3D, but the 3D version was very crisp and worth experiencing.  It was a 3D experience that is deserving of this effort.

As usual, stay for an extra (and very interesting scene) after the initial credits and little more after the end credits.  That’s right – TWO extra scenes.  It’s no secret that they’re setting up a few things for The Guardians of the Galaxy movie – and I couldn’t be more excited.

The cameos in the movie were awesome and I truly enjoyed Stan Lee’s small bit.

I am Groot.

3 out of 4 stars

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2 thoughts on “Review: Thor – The Dark World

  1. Excellent review. I believe when the dark elves walked into Asgard, it was as prisoners. They were placed in the prison cells after they were brought in. Heimdall looked at them as they came in with extreme interest. Don’t think they escaped his notice, just that they were prisoners.

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    1. But Dark Elves at that point were thought to be extinct. So if I saw a creature that was supposed to have died off millenia ago…. that would do more than pique my interest.

      Again, thanks for the comment.

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