Thor: Dark World Review Part 2

As always, my review just grew and grew… (you should see all of the unfinished Cap 2 drafts) and as always, I seem to have put off writing my response up till  – gosh, half a YEAR – later. Not on purpose, I swear. Here is part two of my review on Thor: The Dark World. It pertains to everything else, apart from the premise and the first act of the film, which I discussed here in my first review. The delay has been terrible, and for that, I apologise.

Have a beautiful shot of Asgard’s gate to the Rainbow Bridge to cheer you up!

Directed by Alan Taylor, Thor: The Dark World was, in my opinion, a very spotty film, especially given its title. Whereas in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there is an underlying tension that is maintained throughout the film regarding the Winter Soldier himself, despite his minimal screentime, Thor: The Dark World doesn’t pull it off, with the titular Dark Elves neglected and underdeveloped to create a weak and cliched overarching storyline. While there are certainly moments of well-placed levity, including a brilliant cameo with Chris Evans as Captain America, the film is carried by Tom Hiddleston as Loki, whose fascinating mixture of acerbic vulnerability and smooth menace lifts the film into decent territory and creates the contrast required to make Chris Hemsworth’s Thor a more interesting character.
While I have made my feelings on the subject abundantly clear, let’s reiterate in short: the dark elves were incomprehensible, because of both motive (turn the world Dark. Then what?) and voice distortion, and had been pushed to the side until that final climactic scene so that everyone can save the day again. The plot of the film wasn’t spectacular; in fact, it was rather predictable, to the degree that I guessed that Loki wasn’t really dead long before it was announced in that dramatic reveal. However, there were some good scenes, especially those where Thor is back on Earth or with Loki, as well as the earlier scenes with Kat Dennings as Darcy. I enjoyed being able to clearly see the relationship between Loki and Thor change (as Thor grasps a concept that had apparently been evading him for centuries). Having Loki to counteract his booming brawn always makes for a more interesting scene, but in Thor: The Dark World, this was enhanced by the new freedom to pull away from that cliché a bit since Thor was on his home turf and showed more of an appreciation for strategy and cleverness than he had previously displayed in the first Thor film. I felt that previously, Thor was too direct and arrogantly self righteous to be regarded with a deeper gaze (through no fault of Hemsworth’s superb acting; it was the character himself), and that the balance had to be created by giving Loki such a contrasting, painful past to agonise over. The juxtaposition is certainly effective, but also it just makes me a bit bored of Thor when he’s not interacting with a character profoundly different to his own.

Thor has been developed into a much more interesting character in Thor: The Dark World, thankfully!

On the other hand, with a character like Loki, it doesn’t matter who you play him against, because he’s interesting at the most fundamental level. The myriad of complexities that Loki is made up of, and the large screen time afforded to him and his arc is what sold the movie, for me. However, it brings up a debate which a lot of people have mentioned; that of the protagonist role. Named after Thor, the films so far have nominally focused on his story, but it is becoming increasingly clear that it is Loki who holds the audiences captive. Marvel has acknowledged it by giving the character solid expansion and time on screen, and while this seems to be a popular move, it rather undermines the story of Thor as the hero in some ways (although it makes for a better film). I wonder if there’s a chance of seeing an offshoot film with the anti-hero playing protagonist? I, for one, would definitely watch that!
Character-wise, Loki makes sense, and so does the theory behind his actions. Why is Odin so stupid? This is the crux of my problem in the Loki-Odin relationship – I find it very hard not to sympathise with Loki, because he seems, for the most part, to be surrounded by slightly boorish morons or Aesir who actively dislike him and cannot see past their furred cloaks. The Allfather gave up an eye for wisdom; would it hurt Marvel to portray him as someone who can make a good decision, or at least listen to reason every once in a while? Loki masquerading as Odin made better decisions than the Allfather himself.
It was therefore absolutely brilliant to have some Frigga-Loki interactions, and especially nice to see a woman whose strength lay just as much in her words and mind, as in the muscles of her arms. I think that the role of the mother was quite cleverly used as a device to bind Thor and Loki together, although I deeply regret that it resulted in the death of Frigga (who is played by Rene Russo). I do understand why it was necessary plotwise – for the two brothers to even think about teaming up, it couldn’t have been anyone else’s demise. Yet, there are so few female characters in Marvel, and the few that are mostly seem to be relatively younger women who are in a new relationship, or single; it would’ve made a good change, in my opinion, to also have a wiser matriarch, with a long marriage behind her and centuries of experiences to have shaped her. Somehow, even though I’d had this point spoiled a few months before I saw the movie, I managed to forget and thus be extremely surprised and somewhat angered all over again. The Fridging of Frigga was not to my taste. At all. Especially since we learn at the beginning of the film that she can cast illusions and send them quite a distance away – to Loki’s cage. As she had sufficient time to take Jane Foster and leave the room in the scene, I fail to see why the director didn’t simply make her appear to be dead.
Well, I guess you can’t use the same trope twice in one film, right?
My reaction at Loki’s death was surprised: but not for the right reasons. Hang on, I thought, Loki’s dead? That can’t be, no way would Marvel kill Loki off, it would be bad for business. Also, Ragnarok! Thus, after appreciating the very well acted scene, I concluded that Loki was Not Dead. And then I went ahead with my winning streak, and correctly guessed that Loki was the guard, and surprised my friend, who somehow hadn’t seen it coming 🙂 I couldn’t properly suspend my disbelief at his death, and it saddens me a little, because it mean that I was watching the scene with jaded eyes. Although, they did get me at the Odin part, that was good. Overall, the second half of the film improved upon the first, and the ending was a great cliffhanger.
I really loved Darcy, her snark was great, but I didn’t like the intern of intern drama, especially when she seems to get together with him at the end of the film. One kiss, I can understand, I guess – a the world did NOT end, yay, we live! kiss – but Darcy was a minority as a woman in a film who is single and happy about it (or seemed to be), and I liked that, and appreciated it a heck of a lot. So that annoyed me. Also, the slap is being overused in movies. But Jane is still better in this film than in the previous one (you can find my opinions on her over here, I wrote a thing). On that note, I would also be keen to seen more racial variety, because as it stood, we had Heimdall, who was very well played once more by Idris Elba, and Kurse, played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who is very briefly seen and then turns into a CGI berserker-elf. Who promptly dies. And that’s about it for diversity.
I believe I’ve mentioned it before, but the other thing that piqued me was the lack of acknowledgement of why no help is coming from outside quarters. To drop in a line is easy – the audience understands that due to budget constraints it’s hard to get other Avengers to lend a hand, so pragmatic viewers wouldn’t have been expecting anything, but really, a simple, “oh, Stark’s dealing with an emergency in Oceania, Banner’s off-radar and Cap’s on a mission with Black Widow and Hawkeye, sorry they can’t help” would have helped so much!

The last thing I wanted to mention is the slightly disturbing trend to the Phase 2 films so far: the metaphorical hanging up of the cape. In Iron Man 3, Tony Stark blows up his suits and operates his reactor out of his chest. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Natasha Romanov’s cover is blown and she goes to ‘discover herself’, while Steve Rogers distances himself from the role of hero as he goes on a personal on a mission to find the Winter Soldier with Sam Wilson. Now, in Thor: The Dark World, Thor decides to return to Earth and forego his princely duties on Asgard for the time being. I have no idea what’s happened to Clint Barton and Bruce Banner, but I assume that one is in psychiatrists’ hands, and the other has gone back to a third world country to lie low and help the locals.

The question is; how do they reforge the Avengers in Age of Ultron?What do you think?-Let’s call me Lily

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