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Movie Review: "Thor: The Dark World"

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 11/8/2013

Theatrical Release: 11/8/2013

Synopsis

The Bifrost has been broken, making travel between Asgard and other realms almost impossible. There are still ways to travel between realms, but these ways are known only to a few. One such way is for Odin (Anthony Hopkins) to access the Bifrost’s magic, but this requires great magic and it is only reserved for extreme circumstances. What this means is that Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is not able to visit Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), the woman he loves, until the Bifrost is repaired. However, fate has presented Thor with a bittersweet opportunity.

At the dawn of the universe, powerful artifacts were created which control various aspects of the universe. The Aether is one such artifact, and in a stroke of bad luck, it has found its way to Jane Foster. It has claimed her as a host, and it will surely kill her if it is not removed, but such a procedure is beyond the capabilities of mankind. Additionally, the emergence of the Aether has awoken a race known as the Dark Elves. Led by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), the Dark Elves are a powerful race of elves that thrive in darkness, and they seek the Aether to reshape the universe to their liking, but doing so would make it inhospitable to most other life throughout the realms. The good news is that Thor has a reason to see Jane Foster, but the bad news is that the Aether is slowly killing her and the Dark Elves have their sights set on her. Thus, Thor must find a way to extract the Aether safely and hide it somewhere the Dark Elves can never find it, but there does not seem to be anywhere within the known realms that is beyond their reach.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then awarded for each Pro and taken away for each Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points ranging from 0-10 allowing me to convey to you how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Thor & Loki (+10pts)

Jane & The Aether (-3pts)

The Dark Elves & The Action (+6pts)

Malekith (-5pts)

Erik Selvig (+3pts)

Coincidence (-4pts)

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Pro: Thor & Loki (+10pts)

Thor and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) certainly had a complex relationship in the past couple movies. In Thor, the two were at odds with one another, with Thor being groomed to inherit the throne and Loki being a jealous, mischievous brother. That feud went to a whole other level in The Avengers, as Loki intended to invade and rule earth. That brought us to Thor: The Dark World. When this movie began, Loki was in prison on Asgard and Thor was trying to clean up the mess that was the Aether and the Dark Elves. The Dark Elves' attack on Asgard gave Loki an opportunity to escape his cell, and from there, the filmmakers got to play with the complex relationship between these two characters.

Thor and Loki were still very much at odds with one another, but they were still brothers. Both loved their mother, and both wanted to stop the Dark Elves. It started as an "enemy of my enemy is my friend" storyline, but as the story progressed, their relationship progressed with it. Their banter was great, but I also liked how both characters seemed torn. Thor still loved his brother, and wanted to see the good in him, but Loki's consistent betrayals were hard to look past. Loki was still very much jealous of Thor and wanted power for himself, but it was obvious he still cared for his brother deep down. This was not a great movie, but I think it was as good as it was, because of the complex relationship between these two characters.

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Con: Jane & The Aether (-3pts)

There were certain aspects of this storyline that I enjoyed, but they were mostly outweighed by my issues with this it. I thought the filmmakers effectively setup the importance of the Aether, the danger associated with it being absorbed into someone's body, and the risk associated with what would happen if the Dark Elves got their hands on it. I also liked that the situation forced Jane to become a fish out of water in Asgard, a role reversal of Thor being a fish out of water on Earth in Thor. Unfortunately, that was where this storyline’s strengths ended.

I thought the coincidence of Jane stumbling upon the Aether was ridiculous. Based on where the Aether was, it would have been an incredible coincidence for anyone to find it, but for the person who found it to just so happen to be the main character's love interest was unbelievably coincidental. Then there was the fact that, while I thought the filmmakers effectively setup how dangerous this artifact was, I did not think they did a great job of explaining how it worked. It seemed like they just wanted a vague, ambiguous artifact to center their story around, and they did not want to put the effort into figuring out how the thing actually worked and what exactly Malekith wanted to do with it. This just made the plot of the movie little more than: undeveloped bad guy might do generically apocalyptic things with an ambiguously powerful artifact and only the hero can stop it.

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Pro: The Dark Elves & The Action (+6pts)

The Dark Elves were effective as an army of goons to throw at Earth, Asgard, and the protagonists of this movie. They were established as ancient, capable, dangerous, and powerful, so they were certainly a threat, and they were an effective group for Thor to have to deal with. Asgard had previously been presented in a way that made it feel impenetrable, so it was a game-changer to see the Dark Elves invade it. Then the Dark Elves made their way to Earth, and this made the threat feel even higher, as Earth felt far more defenseless, and we had already seen what the Dark Elves were able to do on Asgard. The action was never amazing, but it was the exciting action that you would expect from a Marvel movie. Their leader could have been handled a lot better, and I will get into that next, but as a whole, I thought the Dark Elves were an effective army of baddies.

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Con: Malekith (-5pts)

If you have seen any number of movies from the MCU, then you will know that more often than not, their villains have been underdeveloped. Malekith in Thor: The Dark World was probably one of the best examples of this. This guy was a generic, evil villain, who wanted to bring about the end of life throughout the realms, so that he and his species could live in darkness. I would have understood this if I was given any reason to believe the Dark Elves were somehow unable to survive or function in the current universe, but that was not the case.

The Dark Elves seemed more than capable in the current state of the universe. They were walking without issue, flying their ships around, and invading worlds, so I did not buy Malekith's motivation of needing to reshape the universe. Really, he was just another underdeveloped, uninteresting villain who wanted to bring about an apocalypse on a massive scale, for reasons that were never explained. To put it simply, the filmmakers could have done a lot better with this character.

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Pro: Erik Selvig (+3pts)

Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) played a role in both Thor and The Avengers, and I really enjoyed his role in Thor: The Dark World. When we met him in this movie, he was still dealing with what Loki did to him in The Avengers. He was crazy, but he was also enlightened in a way. He had insights to what was happening that others did not, and it was directly related to the spell he was under after Loki brainwashed him with his scepter. His insights were important to the story, but it was also really funny to see how the scepter made him crazy. The Stonehenge and psych ward scenes were examples of this, and they were some of this movie's more effective comedic moments.

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Con: Coincidence (-4pts)

This movie was full of eye-roll inducing coincidences. There was the incredible coincidence involved with Jane Foster stumbling upon the Aether, but there were a lot more than that. There was also the fact that the events of this movie just so happened to be occurring while all the realms were aligning with one another, something that was established as being incredibly rare. Then there was the fact that, as Thor and Jane were traveling between realms and finally made it back to Earth, they just so happened to stumble upon everything they needed—like Jane's car keys. It was as if the filmmakers' solution to literally every obstacle set before the protagonists, was to introduce an incredibly coincidental event or occurrence. If this happened once or twice, it could have been forgiven, but it happened so frequently that it made it seem like the filmmakers were just phoning it in while writing this story.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: B- (82pts)

This movie is one that gets a lot of hate when discussing the worst movies of the MCU. It definitely was not as great as many of the others, but I thought it was decent. Its biggest problems were its lazy writers, who introduced insane coincidences left and right. Jane being the one who stumbled upon the Aether was insane, Jane and Thor finding Jane's car keys was insane, and the realms all coincidentally lining up during the events of this movie was insane. One or two coincidences would have been okay, or at least forgivable, but they occurred all over this movie. Another issue with was the severely underdeveloped and generic villain Malekith.

Fortunately, this movie still had plenty to like. I really liked the relationship between Thor and Loki, and I liked both of these characters' stories. I also enjoyed Erik Selvig's story, as his run-in with Loki had some long-lasting effects that made him both helpful and amusing. Finally, the Dark Elves as a whole, felt powerful, dangerous, and they provided the exciting action you would expect a movie in the MCU to have. Was this movie great? No, but it was decent, and it is worth noting that being one of the worst movies in the MCU does not mean a whole lot, because the other movies have set the bar fairly high.

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