Benjamin Wollmuth is a lover of literature who enjoys sharing his thoughts on everything from movies and video games to books and music.
The Dark World
Thor: The Dark World is considered by many as the worst film the MCU has to offer. While I can find the good in it (as I can with most movies), I will say that it is definitely my least favorite (not to spoil my future ranked list). While Kenneth Branagh's Thor was boring at times, it did handle the fish-out-of-water storyline quite well, which allowed Thor to grow as a character. Alan Taylors Thor: The Dark World, however, manages to be boring almost the whole way through, and, unlike Thor's first outing, gives us an insanely lackluster villain with an even more insane lack of proper motivation. Let's get into it.
I have never been a fan of the relationship between Thor and Jane Foster—to me it feels forced. Heck, after this movie, we never see her again. Now we have to wait until Love and Thunder comes out to see if any of the set-up given to this relationship is paid off. I completely understand that many plots are completely based around coincidence, but I still find it annoying that Jane Foster had to be the one to coincidentally find the Aether. The only reason it was her was so that the love story could continue and that the gang from the first movie could return to once again help Thor save the day. The love story goes so far as to add a bit of tension between Sif and Jane—tension that is never returned to.
But speaking of Jane and her Earth friends...
Why does so much of this movie have to do with Earth? At the chronological point of the MCU that this film falls into, Thor is the only hero we know to not have origins linked to Earth. So, when I watch a Thor movie, I don't want a final battle that happens on Earth—I get enough of those already. I want to see a big battle anywhere but Earth. Again, the only reason the ending takes place so much on Earth is so that Jane and her friends can have a purpose. I would be okay with this if the movie gave a proper explanation of why Earth was so important... but it doesn't. From my understanding, Malekith could have chosen any realm, and in my opinion, he should have chosen a different realm. It would have allowed the MCU to expand even more.
This movie is boring because it's a Thor movie that ends on Earth. It's a Thor movie that focuses a lot on humans rather than the people of Asgard. It's the same reason I find Thor's first movie semi-boring: Thor does not belong on Earth unless he is fighting alongside the Avengers. Thor is too big of a character to wind up on Earth by himself. This is all my opinion, but I stand by it.
Using Comedy to Break Tension
Some tension doesn't need to be broken. Some tension shouldn't be broken. Marvel is usually really good at balancing comedy with tension, but this film... well, let's just say it's not their finest work. I get that being mind-controlled made Selvig go a little crazy, but did the film really have to commit to the joke of him not wearing pants? Did Thor really need to interrupt a fight to ride a train? Did the final fight really need to be interrupted by Darcey kissing Ian (another awkwardly forced relationship that made no sense)? If the tonal balance had been handled more effectively, the jokes would have landed. But, sadly, Alan Taylor does not have the same balancing skills as Taika Waititi. Waititi committed to the idea that Thor shouldn't be taken as seriously as his "god" status makes him sound. The Dark World fails to fully commit to that, which may be why the balance feels so off. The film tries so hard to be serious but then includes random, abrupt comedic breaks -- the tone of Ragnarok is pretty comedic the whole way through, and the comedy and tension slowly works it's way in so nothing feels abrupt. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I will talk more about this in my future Ragnarok review.
Malekith lacks proper motivation. What more do you want me to say? We are told that he wants to see the nine realms in darkness, but are never told why. He's evil because he's evil. Good villains have a developed motivation for why they are doing what they are doing. Bad villains have poor motivation. Then there's Malekith, who has no motivation at all. He's just evil, because why not? Boo, I say. Boo.
Is There Anything Good?
Yes, I have mostly talked about my complaints. It's hard to say what I liked about a movie I find insanely boring. However, I will give you some:
I once again think that Loki is a standout. I am okay with him faking his death because it shows how truly deceitful he is.
I don't dislike Thor, but I just don't think Marvel knew which direction they wanted to take him at the time of this film's release (this isn't really a plus, but I am leaving it here).
I think the movie looks good for the most part, but then again, I can't really complain about the CGI in Marvel films (mostly).
Oh, and I very much enjoy Sir Anthony Hopkins as Odin.
This is an insanely boring movie with an insanely motivationless villain that focuses on humans for an insanely long amount of time. This film also didn't know how to balance comedy with seriousness. For a lack of better words, Marvel hadn't discovered how they wanted to handle Thor yet. As we have learned, Thor is better as a less-serious hero -- this film tries to do that at some points while also trying to keep him semi-serious at the same time. The balance isn't there. The villain is poor. Humans are given too much focus. I have a hard time getting through this film. Therefore, I will be giving Thor: The Dark World a 5/10.
Was I too harsh? Let me know in the comments what you think.
I am excited to say that next up is Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I cannot wait to rewatch it and share my thoughts.
© 2020 Benjamin Wollmuth