After months of avoiding spoilers and waiting with breathless anticipation, I finally got to see Thor: The Dark World last night. My excitement over that movie was greater than my excitement for my birthday and Christmas combined.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, just like my birthday and Christmas, I was disappointed.
There was a lot to enjoy about the movie, and enjoy it I did. But honestly—and I don’t say this often—I’m pretty sure I could have written a better one. Someone could have, anyway, not necessarily me.
You know how I love villains? Aww yeah, I love me some villainy. Smart ones, at least. But in this, the villains, including main man Malekith (played by Christopher Eccleston, whose Doctor Who I love and whom I was very eager to see in this), are undeveloped and uninteresting, their plots and goals too ambiguous to make me certain about what I was supposed to be rooting against.
Apparently they want to use “Aether” to bring Darkness and Evil and Bad Things to all when the Nine Realms align in a once-in-ten-thousand-lifetimes event. I don’t know what the Aether is except red smoke. If you turned the Tesseract from The Avengers red and set free the swirly stuff inside it, that’s what it looks like. At least we don’t have something glowing and blue this time. Lord knows I had enough of that from Marvel, not to mention from seeing The World’s End three times.
Jane ends up on the wrong side of Yggdrasil and, by way of being a Curious Scientist, is infected with this Aether, waking Malekith & Co. from his sleep. Everyone in Asgard loses their shit about how powerful the Aether is and how Malekith will use it to DESTROY THE WOOOORRRLLLD. But they never say what it IS, where it came from, what else it could do, why it can’t be destroyed, why it’s bad, or anything.
A few people try to touch Jane while she has it in her veins, and they get violently pushed away as in an explosion, but this doesn’t happen to everyone. Thor, for example, is very conveniently able to touch her without any violent repercussions. (Though, to be honest, I’d let Thor touch me without any violent repercussions.) Several characters remark how the Aether will destroy her, how she can’t handle its power, etc. but there’s no indication that it is harming her from the inside out, or that there is any sort of hurry to get it out of her. There are moments where her eyes turn black like she’s been possessed, but otherwise it does not change her at all. She does not think or behave as though she is infected with an uncontrollable mysterious evil force that could destroy the universe. Heck, even Loki makes the observation that she’s holding up just fine. “What I could do with the power flowing through those veins,” he muses to Thor while they watch Jane sleep. Do tell us, Loki, because the screenwriters sure won’t.
Speaking of Loki … he (and Tom Hiddleston playing him), is by far the best part of the movie. As I expected. I liked Captain America, Thor (on second viewing), The Avengers, etc. so I’m turning into a bit of a Marvel fangirl, but Loki/Tom was still the main reason I wanted to see this movie. Still, his role is a little aimless in his earliest scenes. And while his snark gets some laughs (or a lot of them, including stuff that I can’t reveal because of Spoilers), it’s a bit much, sometimes seems shoehorned in, and could have been spaced out more in the screenplay.
The humor and drama in general could have been spread out more in the movie. Comic relief is great when things get too heavy-handed, but there was too much of it crammed into too few scenes, and contributed to what I thought was a wildly uneven tone. Most (not all) of the humor from Loki is great, but other humor is a product of just terrible writing. Erik Selvig is little more than embarrassing, awkward comic relief, after being an excellent straight-man character in the first Thor and a suitable possessed lackey in The Avengers. Darcy, who was mildly amusing if rather grating in the first Thor, is utterly, insufferably obnoxious in the sequel. (Oh, how I wish Jane had slapped her instead of Loki…or Thor!) A new character, some guy who plays Darcy’s intern, is so dull and useless that I can’t even be bothered to look up his name.
Even when the movie does strike the right tone, it can’t leave well enough alone. One character death (I won’t say whose) is followed by a Viking-style funeral scene. It’s moving and quite beautiful…up to a point, at which the scene had done its job splendidly. But it did not end there—it went on a little too long, it was strained, it tried to do too much, and so this lovely, moving scene got melodramatic and cheesy.
There were also new-ish details that could have been used (and could have helped uninitiated audiences) in earlier movies: Loki’s shapeshifting abilities, Thor’s influence on the weather (bringing rain as well as thunder), Frigga’s magical powers (some of which are similar to Loki’s, suggesting he learned a bit from mum), Heimdall’s powers/role, whether Marvel’s Asgardians are/are not actual “gods,” and a closer look not only at Asgard, but other realms as well.
To sum up: Woefully underdeveloped villain, terribly uneven tone, too much Jane, not enough Loki or Sif and the Warriors Three, Thor is still pretty.