Other Media Review

Movie Review: Thor - The Dark World


Title: Thor: The Dark World
Written By: Don (Script) Payne
Publication Info: 2013
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

Movie Poster - Thor - kneeling dude with red cape and long blonde hair and giant hammer zapped by lightning Thor: The Dark World is an intimate, character-based comedy/drama/romance that just happens to be encased in a massive action movie blockbuster.  The over-arching plot, which has something to do with aether and a war with dark elves and the end of all light in the universe, is utterly forgettable, but the other 99% of the movie is delightful, and it’s a huge improvement on the first Thor movie.

The ostensible plot of Thor: The Dark World involves evil elves and something about how they use aether to suck the light out of everything.  This makes no sense and frankly we do not care, not even a little bit.  Just roll with it. We do not even care about Christopher Eccleston, leader of the dark elves, because he is so covered in makeup that he can’t actually move his face.  An aside – Anthony Hopkins has a similar problem.  Between his eye patch and his facial hair, he only has one eye and a tiny bit of skin to work with, and that one eye looks bored.  I picture the rest of the cast (who seem to be having the time of their lives) whooping it up at a disco while Hopkins and Eccleston are holed up in a dingy pub grumbling into their beer.

Anyway, there’s aether, it’s bad, there’s some sort of magic stone involved that we don’t want Eccleston to have – just roll with it.  Jane gets infected with the aether and Thor shows up on earth to save her and take her to Asgard.  They have to get the aether out of her because her body can’t sustain those levels of energy and plus Eccelston is going to try to come and get the aether.  I hear you stirring restlessly, saying “But how? But why?  Also, how can Thor fly by holding a hammer?  Aren’t they normally heavier than air?  And why is Erik Selvig wandering around with no pants?”  DAMMIT, I TOLD YOU TO ROLL WITH IT. 

Here’s why you should roll with it – this movie is about Thor figuring out his place in the world following the events of Thor and The Avengers, and part of that means Thor has to figure out his relationship with his brother, my boyfriend Loki.  And at one point they have to team up, so they can fight space elves with spaceships, swords, and laser guns.  WHICH I LOVE.  Squeeing aside, this movie got a lot of praise for it’s visual design and the praise is earned – Asgard looks majestic, and wondrous, but also lived in.  The combination of magic (or what appears to us as magic) and technology ranging from space age to steampunk is seamless.  The climatic fight scene is visually ingenious and fun – while I felt no real sense of danger, I laughed out loud as the battling characters chase each other through various unpredictable portals while Thor’s hammer tries to keep up. 

All this visual candy is matched by powerful emotion.  I don’t care a whole lot about this aether issue because I don’t believe in it.  But I absolutely believe in the relationship between Loki and Thor.   The fact that they grew up as brothers, and not only brothers but as close, loving brothers, is vital to this movie.  Their estrangement provides all kinds of plot tension and their history gives that plot tension high emotional stakes.  Also, hilarity.   So much hilarity!   I must not spoil it!  But so much hilarity!

Now I know you are all saying, “But Carrie, what about the romance?”  Well, there’s tons.  Of course the torrid yet tender love affair between Loki and myself continues unabated.  But beyond that, much of the movie revolves around Thor and Jane, which is somewhat unfortunate because even though I love Thor, and I love Jane, they aren’t a terribly convincing couple.  Thor is still as confident in his own skin, as gleeful at the prospect of a good fight, and as wryly funny as he was in the first Thor movie, but he’s also much more serious.  He has experienced loss, and one of those losses was Jane, who he left on Earth when he returned to Asgard.  When they are reunited, his joy in seeing her is shadowed by the fear of loss.  First of all, there’s the imminent threat of losing her to the aether, which is slowly destroying her.  But Odin and Loki, who seldom agree on anything, both point out to Thor that even if he saves Jane from the aether, he’s still going to lose her to mortal old age and death in a very short time compared to his own lengthy lifetime.  

In addition to the life-span problem, there’s the question of whether Thor will take the throne, and that leads to whether Jane would be a good queen, and Jane isn’t particularly thrilled by her stay in Asgard what with Odin comparing her to a goat and throwing her in prison, Sif shooting venomous looks in her direction, and everyone else trying to kill her even as she is slowly poisoned from within.  So this relationship has serious challenges.

Unlike most of the Internet, I actually like Jane Foster.  I find her to be adorable and relatable.  But I am frustrated by the fact that she never has anything important to do.  In this movie, she has a somewhat kick-ass moment where she gets to fight evil with science, but it’s all too brief.  If Jane is going to stick around, she needs to have some agency.  She doesn’t have to start beating people up  – not all strength is physical.  But if her noteworthy ability is science, then let her do something truly awesome and proactive with it – something far more flashy and proactive than what she did in Dark World.

I’m not just saying this stuff because, as a feminist, I like to see women with agency.  I’m also saying it because Thor and Jane are supposed to be this epic romance, and if she has nothing to do, then she doesn’t seem like a good fit for the dynamic Thor.  I am one of the few people on the planet who doesn’t think Thor should end up with Sif.  I think Sif is wonderful and if there is ever a Sif movie (I can dream) I’ll be the first in line to see it.  But I think Thor and Sif are too similar in personality to be a good romantic couple, whereas Thor and Jane balance each other nicely for the most part (Television Without Pity refers to this couple as “young dorks in love”, awwww).  Jane draws out Thor’s smart side – he’s never been dumb, but in the first movie he was more keen on running headlong into the fray than on strategy.  Jane keeps him thinking, and encourages him to be compassionate and responsible.  And Thor validates Jane, believing in her work, encouraging her, and proving that at least some of her theories are correct just by existing.  But that balance is out of whack as long as Jane is given nothing of her own to do. 

Ultimately, this is Loki’s movie, just like every movie with Loki in it is Loki’s movie.  When Loki isn’t in the movie, we’re all waiting for him to show up, and when he does – delight.  He’s funny, he’s unpredictable, and he’s poignant.  He’s the perfect foil for the rest of the cast.  I’m not just saying this because he is my boyfriend and we have an eternal and wondrous love.  This is a very fun movie – not flawless, but incredibly enjoyable, and most of the fun and the pathos comes from Loki, although Chris Hemsworth’s work as the straight man who is armed with his own arsenal of deadpan snark should not be ignored.  They are another couple (non-romantic, fan-fic aside) that balances each other, although in their case that balance has been twisted by the lies of Loki’s adoptive parents and by Loki’s brain having become, as they say in Avengers, “a bag full of cats”.

I suspect that upon future viewings, I’ll say this movie deserves a B, but I had so much fun I’m kicking it up to a B+ and there’s one scene which is so delightful that it almost single-handedly pushes the grade to an A.   No, I won’t tell you what it is.  But those few minutes are well worth the ticket price, believe me.

As the spring and summer season will soon kick into gear, I have a question for the Bitchery – what kinds of moveis are you curious about?  Captain America:  Winter SoldierX-Men Days of Future Past?  Guardians of the Galaxy?  Only Lovers Left Alive (starring Tom Hiddleston as a vampire rockstar in love with Tilda Swinton)?  None of these are particularly romance focused (except Only Lovers and for all I know the lovers eat each other – I’ve no idea) but the Geek potential is glorious.  I await your input.

Thor: The Dark World is in theatres now, and you can find tickets on Fandango and MovieTickets.com.

You can watch the trailer here: 

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    But..but…you mean Loki is seeing someone APART from me? Way to break it to me gently…

  2. 2
    CarrieS says:

    Sorry, Jane.  I courted him with my chocolate chip cookies.  He looked hungry.  Now he follows me everywhere.

  3. 3
    ijinx says:

    Loki, that little hussy… he came to my door for my famous Sachertorte … and, as he claimed, my ravishing good looks and wit >.< ah well

    but seriously, I found Jane to be a little too damsel-in-distress this time, and it’s a shame that girls don’t get much action in Marvel movies and/or comics. as you said: give the woman things to do that she can do well and she will shine.

  4. 4
    Vuir says:

    Thor doesn’t fly, he throws the hammer so hard that he’s carried along with it.

  5. 5
    Sanbai says:

    Hahahahaha, I never thought of that Vuir! Makes perfect sense.

    And get in LINE ladies! Loki and I go waaaaay back – I met him at Thor’s midnight showing and our sneaky, hotel-to hotel romance really is true love! And not just me trying to steal pillowcases he might have slept on after researching his show schedule!

    But seriously, I thought Thor was kinda bad – Captcicle was way better, IMO. The Avengers was the best thing ever so I’m kinda of glad that The Dark World seems to be a few notches better than it’s predecessor. But I think we all know why

  6. 6
    MissB2U says:

    I’ll see your Loki and raise you one man who puts the “EEEEEEE!” in e.e. cummings.


    Tom.  Sigh.

  7. 7
    CarrieS says:

    @MissB2U:  Goodness gracious!  (fans self, furiously, whilst blushing).

  8. 8
    Sanbai says:

    @MissB2U: Awck, okay, I’ll comment something when I can staunch this epic nosebleed…

  9. 9
    Elyse says:

    @Carrie, while I know you love him, I’m still shipping Loki/Darcy. HARD.

  10. 10
    Julie says:

    You all can have Loki. MOAR THOR, PLEASE.

  11. 11
    Kate K.F. says:

    I love seeing geeky movie reviews pop up here as well as other types of movies. The one about Austenland kept me away from it and convinced me to warn others away as well. Your thoughts on this movie reflect a lot of mine, I wished the plot had fit together better and Jane had more to do but I enjoyed the feel of it all.

    I’m an X-Men fan and adored X-Men: First Class so I’m watching the lead up to Days of Future Past warily. Scruffy and angsty Charles is making me skeptical but I think Winter Soldier looks to be just as solid as Avengers and Captain America.

    Please keep posting any and all movie reviews as I love knowing what all the contributors are enjoying and hating.

  12. 12
    Michelle C. says:

    I’m looking forward to Captain America. I can appreciate Loki, at least parts of me do. ;) But I’m all about Cap. He’s so pristine, so goody-goody, it’s like he’s begging to be . . . disheveled.

  13. 13
    Fiona McGier says:

    You are all lucky in that my daughter says Thor is her husband, so Jane is only a “fling” for him.  Personally if I was younger and not happily-married, I’d challenge you all for Loki! It’s that whole tortured hero thing, whereas Thor is a one-note good guy.  Loki can go either way, and I sure can imagine LOTS of ways I’d like to lead him astray!

    I loved this movie too!  My nerd-husband and I raised 4 nerds to carry on our pride in nerd-dom.  I’m loving this whole spate of comic-action movies…all of the Marvel ones, anyway. Didn’t even both with the latest Superman…snore.  Did y’all notice that Stan Lee, who does an Alfred Hitchcock-type cameo in every Marvel movie, actually had a line of dialogue in this one?

  14. 14
    CK says:

    @MissB2U: Wow. Yeah. I’ll be in my bunk ;)

  15. 15
    hapax says:

    I agree with every single point made in this review—well, not about Loki being my secret boyfriend, because he’d be a TERRIBLE boyfriend, what with the brother hangups and the mommy issues and the [spoiler], so he’s my secret occasional torrid hookup.

    With all of that, you skipped my very favorite part of this movie (and the first one as well):  I have never seen a major studio action blockbuster that was so unabashedly shot for the straight FEMALE gaze.  It wasn’t just passing the Bechdel test in the first terrestrial scene; it wasn’t just the (delicious) lingering shots of Chris and Tom.  It was so many little things: the way that men (and ONLY men) were stripped naked to portray vulnerability and humor; the way women that were not penalized for being taking charge of their own romantic relationships or being sexually aggressive; the way women were always dressed both attractively and with individuality, yet never sacrificed comfort or practicality or seemed to be put on display; the way the camera never eroticized such scenes as the medical exam or the torture-by-aether that all other films routinely show with a sexual subtext.

    Also, you forgot to mention that Frigga is a BAD. ASS.

  16. 16
    hapax says:

    Oh, and @Michelle C:

    But I’m all about Cap. He’s so pristine, so goody-goody, it’s like he’s begging to be . . . disheveled.

    Well, then, there are about fifteen seconds in this film that will totally be worth the price of the ticket.  Trust me.

  17. 17
    Laura Stephens says:

    Clearly, Tom Hiddleston IS the God of Mischief in human form on this planet for he has effectively turned legions of women into fangirls and yes, even my own husband admits to his man crush. My four year old daughter is even in love with him. Mark my words, that flawless sparkly unicorn is indeed The Most Charming Man in Hollywood!

    Met him last year at the Avengers premiere and he’s gracious, kind, and ever charming and yes, the man will squish you in a hug for a photo like the two of you have been lovers for a century. /swooned

    Saw him at San Diego Comic Con this past July as Loki himself in Hall H where he shushed 6000+ people in two seconds. I fangirled like a 15 year old a Justin Beiber concert. /noshame

    And his VOICE. His vooooooooooice!

  18. 18
    de pizan says:

    @MissB2U There’s also one of him reading Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6Q_Ioj6AhQ

  19. 19
    jimthered says:

    And to either improve or worsen all the Loki fantasies out there, for quite a few issues in the comics Loki became a woman.  On the plus side, this makes cosplaying as Loki a lot more logical for any women who were thinking of it…

  20. 20
    rayvyn2k says:

    I saw the movie last night, and it was everything you said and more. (Aside from the inconsiderate asswipe who refused to stop texting during the movie-asked me what I was going to do about it, then tried to play innocent when I fetched the manager which forced him to behave—I’m too old to be intimidated by BS like that.)

    Anyway, those mysterious 15 seconds being alluded to above are absolutely worth the price of the film, along with all the woofy shots of Thor and Loki’s gorgeousness. And the scenes during and after the credits are must see. Especially the after credits. I have to say, I was surprised.

    Hubby and I are both looking forward to Cap’s next film—the trailer is bass ass.

  21. 21
    rayvyn2k says:

    UGH. That should be “bad ass”. *grumbles about fat finger syndrome*

  22. 22
    astrakhan says:

    @hapax: I agree about the “female gaze”. This is a film series that has Kat Dennings and buries her in four layers of clothing at every opportunity. A lesser series would have her in bikini chainmail armor half of the time.

  23. 23
    LovelloftheWolves says:

    I hadn’t even considered the female gaze business. But its true. I giggled when Thor was washing himself and it was all navel and abs.

    I also hadn’t considered the reason I didn’t like Jane – wasn’t even Jane’s fault. Because I don’t like Jane. I like Darcy. She’s funny and snarky, and yes, gets left out a LOT but thats what makes her so relatable. Jane just stands around. LITERALLY stands around. And, as my guy friends pointed out, she was the McGuffin for the movie. All of which, as you rightfully said, isn’t really the character’s fault, as so much as the movie writers/directors fault. If she had a moment to shine, to be *truly* useful I would like her more. Maybe I should re-direct my great dislike towards the content creators, rather than Jane…

    But I do root for Sif. Only because the lingering looks she gives Thor just hurts me inside. Why cant he see she loves him!?!? Unrequited love is my cat-nip.

    Lastly… I want a Thor & Loki struggle-to-survive-in-New-York-in-a-beat-down-apartment-together-as gods who cant get home – tv-series.

  24. 24
    Joanna says:

    Lastly… I want a Thor & Loki struggle-to-survive-in-New-York-in-a-beat-down-apartment-together-as gods who cant get home – tv-series.

    Oh man, I would so watch that!

    Really enjoyed this movie – it still has me smiling days later – loved all the small humor bits – like Thor taking the London Underground, and there were so many of them. Thought the first Thor movie was big and clunky – by contrast this outing was fast and nimble.

    I think one of the things I liked about the romance was that Thor and Jane have both been faithful and yearning for each other for two years – it was very sweet.

  25. 25
    Joanna says:

    Sorry, my quotes around LovealloftheWolves comment didn’t work – she gets credit for that great idea.

  26. 26
    hapax says:

    I want a Thor & Loki struggle-to-survive-in-New-York-in-a-beat-down-apartment-together-as gods who cant get home – tv-series.

    Y’all know about Saint Oniisan, right?

    I wouldn’t recommend it if you don’t have a sense of humor about religious faith, but if you’re comfortable with laughing in church (or temple, etc.) it’s just wonderful.

    Alas, it isn’t available (legally) in English, and that isn’t likely to change.

  27. 27
    Darlynne says:

    @Hapax: I agree with all of what you said, but the abs of Thor were FOR ME, ‘k? I thought the way Thor looked at Jane also fell into female gaze and was breath-taking in the best sense of the word, very swoon-worthy.

    And now I would love to know more about Saint Oniisan because THAT match up, truly, was made in heaven.

  28. 28
    Heather S says:

    I was hugely thrilled to see the previews for both the new X-Men and Captain America films. I love comic book movies (I started reading comics circa 1993, Jim Lee’s Uncanny X-Men), so I’m very excited that so many movies are in the production process.

    I really liked this new Thor movie, largely because Thor has lost a lot of the pompous ass arrogance of the first film. He’s more down-to-Earth, er, Asgard than he was, and I think the character has improved a great deal because of it. He has more depth, and that makes him more interesting than he was as the swaggering princeling at the beginning of “Thor”.

    Loki was excellent, as always – he’s an eclectic blend of humor, caprice, intelligence, and emotionality that can make it hard to tell when he’s being sincere and when it’s all part of some chaotic plot to advance his own agenda. Rather fitting for a god of chaos, I think.

  29. 29
    Muneca says:

    I loved loved the movie I was sitting there opening day wearing ‘keep calm and kneel to Loki’ shirt proudly love that character.

    Jane, Jane, Jane she had so much potential since she was carrying the big evil thing inside her but they didn’t do anything with her. Argh! Now tell was I the only one who wanted her to be the one to figure out how to start the ‘car’ before they did the whole back seat driver routine? That to me would have made an already hilarious scene that much funnier. I would also love Darcy and Loki to meet hee hee the snark would be awesome between those two.

    Can you do me the favor of directing me to those fanfics you mentioned? I would like to read something that focuses on their relationship as brothers and isn’t slash.

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