Thor: The Dark World is a sequel that can best be summed up as a sequel done right. It builds upon the storyline present within the first Thor film, as well as including the events of what transpired with the Avengers film, without there feeling a forced or hastily constructed storyline from which to proceed from.
To being with, what interested me most about the film was in terms of the narrative of the story and how it ultimately furthered not only the development and depth of the primary characters, but how it more importantly established future ramifications of not only the next Thor movie, but what potentially the Avengers will have to contend with down the road.
I very much enjoyed how the characters and situations were allowed to be further developed and built upon. Thor, as our primary lead character comes across not as some mere battle lusting, Mjolnir wielding, god of thunder brute, but refreshingly as a more grounded and reflective individual who has experienced not only the hardships of battles fought, but also the deeper ramifications of the consequences of decisions enacted upon.
I very much appreciated Thor being portrayed as one having the burden or weight which goes with being a future successor to his father king Odin. Thus, Thor is not only going to bear the responsible and burden as the leader of Asgard, but also his roles as a guardian of Earth and other worlds as well. The burden that Thor shoulders as the defender of worlds plays very well in terms of setting up the events of the film as they unfold.
The Thor of this current film is one who is quite different from when we first laid eyes upon him in the previous film, for he was filled with an overweening and cocky attitude. Having triumphed successfully against both exterior and interior conflicts, he comes across as more grounded, self assured and wiser.
While Thor has grown and changed from hen we first saw him on Earth during the vents of the first film, he still is very much the battle lusting warrior son of Odin, god of thunder. Yet, what I very much appreciated about Thor’s portrayal within the film is how he is presented in such a manner as to be a much more thoughtful, weathered and “realistic” heroic individual, while still very much one who revels in battle and a good brawl.
Visually, the film is a joy to watch. As one can imagine, there are some really epic and well executed fight sequences within the film that will not only get your blood flowing, for they made me feel as if I was watching a thrilling, classic heavy weight boxing match. One of my favorite moments was watching Thor’s Hammer Mjolnir traveling through incredibly vast distances and even redirecting through Earth’s atmosphere and out into space, so as to reach Thor during the climatic fight sequence was epically as awesome as awesome can be! I was sitting in the darkened theater yowling out in total geek out jouissance!
Without revealing too much of the story element, Thor is faced with the grim reality that the force of evil and darkness is once more on the rise and threatens to annihilate worlds, ours and his own home world of Asgard. With everything on the line, the question that faces our hero is just what is he willing to do to ensure that this threat is beaten back and defeated.
I thought is a great plot device to have their be an apparent conflict between Thor and his father Odin in terms of how best to proceed with how to deal with the threat poised by the Dark Elves. Odin knows that his time as king is coming to a close, though Thor certainly has his own ideas, such as having relations with a human, who commands the love of his heart. Who can Thor turn to to help ensure that this foe is vanquished?
Loki is the perfect counterbalance for Thor. He is very much the fulcrum point of the film, for through his actions and by his very character, it allows for a great interplay and development of characters. The positioning of Thor and Loki in relationship to Odin and to Frigga (Odins Wife/Thor’s and Loki’s Mother) brought a great Shakespearian nuance to the film.
As one who is adopted, I like to think that I have a certain awareness and perception into the character of Loki that those who are not adopted would not be mindful of. Without diverging to far, suffice to say that Loki’s motivation is not so much power (though it certainly is the icing on the cake), more than it is the validation of his being. He is mistakenly seeks power as the means to prove his worth as a person, when what he really seeks is unconditional love and acceptance. He enacts and embodies the very push away “testing” that those who are adoptive are known to do. The catalyst of his actions are in light of his anger for being cast aside and then “lied” to by Odin as to his true origins.
The ability that he has to create “illusions” speaks to me as to create a specific persona, so as to always be accepted and in control of his environment. Without revealing any spoilers, once of the most powerful scenes for me was when Thor asked Loki to reveal his true self. The rage, hurt and grief are all clearly evident within that scene.
A film (or book) where by Loki comes to terms with who he is and his adoption would make for an interesting story. Loki inherent character and mythos is one of double dealing and trickery, though there can be an argument made that he certainly isn’t the villain that he seems to be made out to be.
Seeing the motherly love that Frigga holds for Loki, regardless for the culpable crimes he committed and the mother/son bond that they have for one another certainly enabled me to regard him in a much more empathetic and grounded fashion. Thor and Loki’s relationship to one another and to their respective parents and the differences of the two made for a much richer and weighty contention and struggle between the two. Though these are superheroes, they very much are grounded with a believable reality.
In terms of the various individuals within the film, allow me some brief comments.
Natalie Portman did a serviable job continuing as Thor’s love interest and one of the primary central characters. The chemistry between her and Thor comes across as believable and sincere.
Anthony Hopkins as Odin seemed to fill out the role better this time around. Though to be honest, he just isn’t Odin to my way of thinking. I wish Brian Blessed was the one who was portraying Odin. Now he is Odin to me!
Idris Elba as Heimdall is one of my favorite characters within the film. I am so happy that he has a larger role this time around. When he is on the screen, he adds a coolness factor that just adds to the overall tone of the film. I certainly hope that we see more of him in future Thor films.
Kat Dennings as Darcy was surprisingly fun and added a great comedic element to the film. I have to say, that within the first Thor film, I found her character distracting, so I was a bit leery as to having her return again. I was really pleasantly surprised this time around as to her characters fun quips and very much enjoyed the character. Suffice to say, Kat Dennings won me over!
Rene Russo as Frigga was perfect. Though she did not have a large role per se, she commanded it and made it her own and through her character, there was a much welcomed depth of characters with which could be explored and played out.
The primary bad guy of the film is that of Christopher Eccleston, who portrays the Dark Elf Malekith. Some have complained that as a villain, he comes across wooden and not very interesting. My take is that there was more than enough character conflicts and variances, so that it actually was the smart way to go to have a simple, single-mindedness to this particular villain. I was perfectly happy with how they presented him.
One particular part of the film that I thought was really moving and visually beautiful was the funeral scene of Frigga. Though it was a brief sequence, it was expertly crafted and carried with it a solemn and touching expression of loss and love.
Overall, the film has a perfect blend of action, drama, humor and gravity. I was really quite impressed by the overall melding of the various film elements, for it made for a really fun and enjoyable film. It certainly is ever so clearly evident that Marvel truly knows what they are doing in terms of these film. Whatever particular method and approach to crafting the various super hero films they have released over the last several years has clearly worked. They have crafted and put forth a series of films which have been highly entertaining, engaging and leaving audiences (myself included) wanting more.
As an endnote, there is a surprise cameo that was a total hoot! I certainly don’t want to ruin the surprise and let the secret out other than to say that it was so funny and totally brilliant!
So my recommendation is to head out to the theater and catch Thor: The Dark World, you will be really pleased that you did!