The MCU Review series continues with the next entry into Phase Two – Thor: The Dark World.
Despite having seen The Dark World at least a few times since its release, I found myself only able to remember vague flashes of the film: a floating truck, Christopher Eccleston as a Dark Elf, and some scenes set in London. Upon re-watching, the reason for this memory lapse became abundantly clear: The Dark World is really very boring.
Now, don’t misunderstand me: Thor is easily one of my favourite MCU heroes, owing largely to Chris Hemsworth’s ability to bring the character to life with warmth and depth, but there’s a reason that this film is often named as a low point for the MCU.
Malekith is one of the most lazily written villains imaginable, with only the vague goal of destroying the Nine Realms after having lost an ancient war, but the film’s problems don’t end with its uninspired villain – in fact, they’ve only just begun.
Thor’s supporting characters – Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), and Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) – are lacking the personality they (sort of) possessed in the 2011’s Thor, and while there’s a concerted effort to inject them into the plot, they add relatively little to the film.
One of the film’s biggest assets is the pairing of Hemsworth and Hiddleston, as their chemistry really hits its stride in The Dark World. This is a victory for Hiddleston in particular, who was criminally underused in Thor, but it seems that after 2012’s The Avengers Marvel released what an asset the character (and its actor) truly was. Loki is by far the breakout star of the film, overshadowing even Hemsworth’s larger-than-life Thor in practically every scene.
Possibly the most surprising aspect of the film – to me at least, because I don’t remember feeling this way on my first viewing – was how poor Anthony Hopkins’ performance as Odin was. His lines were delivered in a monotone so bland that you could feel the actor’s disinterest coming through the screen – but with a script as patchy as The Dark World‘s, can you really blame him?
There’s a reason that The Dark World has such a poor reputation – it’s generally a pretty poor film. There’s finally a little chemistry between Thor and Loki, and the film’s visual effects are good (I mean, they should be, it’s Marvel), but other than that, there’s precious little to recommend about the film. It does introduce one of the Infinity Stones, though, so I guess you could also describe it as “necessary”, if you were looking for an appropriate adjective.
Summary: A pretty weak offering from Marvel. Even its cast appear to think so, with particularly lifeless performances coming from Oscar winners Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins. It ticks the boxes of a Marvel film (heroes, villain, apocalyptic scale stakes, good visual effects) but does very little else of note.
Highlights: Hiddleston’s performance as Loki and the Captain America cameo injected a little humour into an otherwise unremarkable film.