Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Untitled-1Thor: The Dark World provides much of the same nonsensical dialogue and sensational action as the first one, but it invests a lot more in characters that shouldn’t even be in the picture. Most of these characters are the human ones (as opposed to the Norse gods, who coincidentally also look human). They are irritating, bordering on redundant, and only seem to be getting in the way of the plot. Natalie Portman, for instance, as the movie’s leading lady, does an awful lot of fainting and collapsing. If I were Thor, I’d have flung her around like Mjolnir and then picked up her nasal friend Darcy and done the same.

God they are annoying. They’re like those little kids you bring to the science fare who can’t stop asking obvious questions like, “What does this do?”, “Why did that happen?”, or “Can I touch this?”. Every small thing triggers their curiosity, and all they need to do is be patient and wait for questions to answer themselves. But of course, being brainy technology geeks accustomed to the lightning quickness of their devices, they’re impatient for answers, and so they think the best way to get them is to ask silly questions to nobody. I swear, if you were to leave them in an empty room by themselves, they’d start asking the wall why it’s got cracks.

Unfortunately they are not the only problem. The Dark World also suffers from insipid dialogue and confusing storytelling. As far as I can tell, Asgard — the home of Thor and his people, the Rohirrim — has a new enemy: Cirque Du Soleil performer Malekith (Christopher Eccleston). He’s a cool alien dude with a cool spaceship, and he’s got a braided ponytail that gives him that feminine touch. It’s lovely. He’s after something called the Aether, a squiggly wiggly entity that’s supposed to be pure evil, but it looks more like the Symbiote from the Spider-Man movies. It has the power to disrupt the alignment of the 9 realms of the divine universe and destroy every single civilization in them. I told you. Pure evil. So Malekith wants it in his body in order to control it and bring about a massive extinction. Why he wants to do this is not known, either because the movie sidesteps it or I was too busy enjoying the visual effects to remember minute details about an otherwise insignificant plot.

Ah, now here’s where the humans come in and pretend to be important. Jane Foster, the Portman character, stumbles upon the Aether’s resting place — in another dimension — and accidentally absorbs it into her body. Say what? She’s now a walking timebomb of evil. She is brought to Asgard by Thor (Chris Hemsworth), who thinks it’s wise to keep her away from Earth. While on Asgard, she dons the locals’ traditional robes and body plates and magically integrates instantly with this brand new world of gods and deities. There isn’t even a gasp or a “Wow!”. The first thing she says after traveling lightyears in Asgard’s interstellar transporter beam is “We definitely have to do that again”. Yeah, right.

Malekith comes looking for her and destroys much of Asgard in the process. Thor’s family is shattered, but his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) remains steadfast that the best way to defeat this new threat is to wait around and do nothing, something his son is unable to comprehend. Naturally, the hot-headed god takes matters into his own hands and devises a plan together with Loki (yes he’s in this picture). And then there’s something about treason and a destructive showdown in London.

Thor has never been one of the better superheroes. He’s in the same class as Superman. He’s a god, so by definition of his title he cannot be killed or weakened. What’s his soft spot? I don’t think he has one. He flies, grunts, and wields his mighty hammer (it tends to do most of the work for him), but he lacks a personality. What drives him? Is it his duty? His loyalty to his father and to his country (nation? realm?)? What? Why does he do what he does? And would he still want to do it if Jane Foster wasn’t in his life? Speaking of Jane, I’m not quite so sure why she’d fall for someone like Thor. Does she not realise that nothing — and I mean nothing — can come of it? Perhaps she should sit down with Lois Lane and discuss their illogical fascination with extra-terrestrial beings.

The Dark World gives us just about what we’d expect as a sequel to a superhero movie that wasn’t very good to begin with, and it survives because its visual effects are superior. As much as you try to formulate a deep story about Thor and his friends, you’ll never be able to venture deep enough to find an emotional core. Maybe if you strip away his divinity and make him mortal he might be more interesting. He needs a weakness and better charisma. He also needs to fight more substantial enemies. And he needs less juvenile human counterparts.

Best Moment | Thor leaps off the balcony, does a twirl, catches Mjolnir in mid-air, and zooms off into the distance. Damn that was cool.

Worst Moment | DARCYYYYYYY!

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