Before seeing Alan Taylor’s follow-up to “Thor,” “Thor: The Dark World,” I happened to read a few reviews. Some were particularly insulting and mean-spirited, while others seemed not to have seen the first film, which is OK; but don’t complain about understanding the origin of Thor and the rest of the Asgardians when you can’t motivate yourself to see the film that established such things.
It’s akin to someone not seeing “Star Wars,” then watching “The Empire Strikes Back,” and wondering why the guy in black with asthma is so mean. And what’s with that “Force” stuff, anyway?
Sure, you could do it, though it comes off remarkably lazy (and what’s worse is that many of the people that do so are paid to watch movies).
For instance, it’s been established in the first film that the Asgardians ARE NOT GODS (which is repeated in this movie), nor are they immortal, though they live significantly longer than humans. What they are are aliens that make use of remarkably advanced technology that, to less-advanced peoples, looks like magic. They have visited the earth in the past, and inspired certain groups, like the Vikings, who believed them to be gods.
It’s actually relatively simple, despite the kvetching.
While the first film revolved around Earth and Asgard, the sequel is of significantly larger scope and involves Thor doing peace keeping duties on the Nine Realms, though only later in the film is their true enemy, the Dark Elves, revealed.
This was a surprise because everyone had assumed that they were defeated and wiped out by the Asgardians before Odin assumed the throne.
The Dark Elves are seeking a substance called Aether, which was hidden away by the Asgardians when they first faced them.
Alan Taylor, who’s best known for directing a number of episodes of HBO’s “A Game Of Thrones” brings a similar esthetic to the design of Asgard. While the first film was very glittery, and more than a little bit cold, his interpretation resembles a huge medieval city, with Asgard at the center.
What’s a bit off is the humor, which in the first film felt fresher, and was more situational. Here, it more often than not feels forced. That being said, when the movie gets going – I would guess at the point where the Dark Elves lay siege to Asgard – it moves briskly (and also brought to mind 1980’s “Flash Gordon” in one pivotal scene).
What most critics are accurate about is that while Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is engaging and very easy on the eyes (his back is so huge that it almost looks like a special effect) which probably a little to do with this being a superhero film that seems to be seeking a particularly strong female audience, though it’s Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who probably the most interesting character in the movie.
Is “Thor: The Dark World” a great movie? Not really, it’s a bit too uneven for that, though it is beautifully shot, engaging, and fun when it gets moving.
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t leave the theater till the credits finish rolling.