Odin: The nine realms are not eternal. They had a dawn; they will have a dusk.
I was pleasantly surprised by THOR. I even went so far as to say I was Thor-oughly entertained by it. And with the mounting success the “Avengers” have been enjoying since the first Thor film, I was actually looking forward to another intergalactic adventure with the blond-locked God. I can’t say that I wasn’t as equally entertained by THOR: THE DARK WORLD, but I also can’t say that it excited me as much as its predecessor either. Successful television director, Alan Taylor, takes over for Kenneth Brannagh, and he provides a great deal of exhilaration throughout but not enough to improve on what came before it. Thor’s hammer is still mighty but this adventure feels slightly more slight in the grander scheme of the Marvel universe.
THOR: THE DARK WORLD opens very similarly to THOR. Odin, played by Anthony Hopkins, who returns to the role of Thor’s father and king, tells the audience a story. Last time, he told us of the Frost Giants and their great war with the Asgardians, a war that he himself put to an end. This time around, he tells us of another war, one that predates the Frost Giant war. This time, the Asgardians were protecting all Nine Realms in the universe from being eclipsed back into darkness at the hands of the Dark Elves. Led by Malekeith (Christopher Eccleston), the intention was to unleash a dark and menacing element known as the Aether onto the Nine Realms when they all aligned, a phenomenon that carries over from the first film. Malekeith is vanquished by Odin’s father and the Aether is presumably destroyed. Of course, it wasn’t actually destroyed; it was merely hidden where technically no one should ever find it. This of course means that inevitably, someone has to find it now. Find it, they do, and Thor must now do what his grandfather did before him as the alignment is about to happen once again.
Most of the plot takes place on Asgard or in other Realms other than Earth, which heightens the grandness and godliness of the lore. However, it lacks the charm of watching a fallen god struggling to make sense of his Earthly surroundings. It also lacks the gravitas of watching our hero find himself after discovering he had no idea who he was to begin with. Chris Hemsworth returns as the titular god, looking as heavenly as always, and he performs admirably. Thor fights with conviction and Hemsworth is fully committed to the part at all times. There is just not enough progression in his character to elevate Thor, and subsequently the film, to a place of deeper relevance. As a result, much of THOR: THE DARK WORLD feels like more of the same. Natalie Portman returns as Thor’s human love interest, and she brings all the gusto she brought last time, but to what end? It’s great to see them together again but its far more casual an encounter and far less urgent. The one exception is where this adventures takes Thor’s relationship with his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Their relationship is tested more than it ever has been before and it is just as twisted as it has ever been.
Still, more of the same is not a bad thing when the origins are this strong. THOR: THE DARK WORLD is another solid entry in the Marvel lexicon, with great battles that blend technology and magic and quick witted humour, and will surely not deter fans from enjoying themselves or lessen their anticipation for THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON. That being said, I can’t see it doing anything to heighten that anticipation either. It is by no means a misstep; it is just not a significant one. More of light tap than a mighty blow, and a god can simply do better.