‘Thor: The Dark World’ Review

Published 10 months ago by , Updated August 22nd, 2014 at 1:20 am,

Thor 2 The Dark World Chris Hemsworth Thor: The Dark World Review

InThor: The Dark World, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his Asgardian forces have kept busy attempting to bring order to the nine realms – after they were thrown into warring chaos following the destruction of the Bifröst (in Thor) and Loki’s invasion of New York (in Avengers).

In her efforts to reunite with Thor, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) discovers an ancient (and extremely powerful) weapon, the Ather, which subsequently awakens one of Asgard’s most dangerous foes, Malekith, along with his Dark Elf army. Informed of Jane’s troubles by the Asgardian sentry Heimdall (Idris Elba), Thor returns to Earth to find and protect his love – setting off a series of events that force the God of Thunder into a desperate partnership to save Jane and rid the realms of Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) before the villain unleashes destruction upon the cosmos.

Thor 2 The Dark World Star Chris Hemsworth Thor: The Dark World Review

Chris Hemsworth as Thor in ‘Thor: The Dark World’

For Thor: The Dark World, Marvel Studios hired Game of Thrones alum Alan Taylor to help maintain Thor and Loki’s post-Avengers momentum  (replacing Thor director Kenneth Branagh) - and deliver a solid standalone “Phase Two” installment. For the most part Taylor succeeds, as Thor: The Dark World successfully builds upon characters and story lines from the first Thor , as well as Avengers, while providing entertaining (and humorous) moments and exciting action set pieces along the way. Certain aspects of the story are underdeveloped – and some filmgoers might (once again) have trouble suspending disbelief as to why S.H.I.E.L.D. and the other Avengers aren’t around to lend a hand – but overall Thor: The Dark World accomplishes exactly what a sequel (especially one couched in a shared cinematic universe) should do – increase the excitement and dig deeper into fan-favorite characters.

Like several Marvel Studios offerings (and the recent Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series), the main storyline in the Thor sequel centers on a new piece of supernatural technology (much like the Tesseract before it) that reignites an ancient battle between heroes and villains. While the setup is extremely straightforward, the script is surprisingly adept at balancing (and developing) ongoing story arcs (like the dynamic between Thor and Loki – as well as the God of Thunder’s future role in Asgard) and larger shared universe tie-ins (i.e. much-appreciated exposition and backstory, plus a few choice cameos).

Thor 2 The Dark World Christopher Eccleston Adewale Akinnuoye Agbaje Thor: The Dark World Review

Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) and Kurse (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje)

Unfortunately, in the middle of the delicate balancing act, most of the new additions (especially antagonist Malekith and his Dark Elves) remain underdeveloped. The Dark Elves significantly up the ante from Thor’s first solo adventure, resulting in a number of thrilling (and visually stunning) action beats; however, compared to the quasi-Shakespearean story of sibling rivalry, alienation, and betrayal that fueled Loki as Thor 1‘s antagonist, Malekith is little more than an “evil leader” trope. Despite the best efforts of Dr. Who star Christopher Eccleston, Malekith –  as well as his right-hand monster, Kurse (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) – fall short of being round and captivating villains, instead relegated to spouting exposition and platitudes before turning into hyper-charged punching bags for Thor and Mjölnir.

Luckily, Loki picks up a lot of the slack, as Tom Hiddleston once again plays the fan-favorite trickster with a smart mix of humor, charm, menace, and moral ambiguity. Providing Loki with an adequate story arc and substantial screen time probably contributed to The Dark World‘s thinly-drawn Dark Elves, but most moviegoers will likely agree that Taylor made the right call, since Hiddleston’s scenes are often the most interesting, entertaining (not to mention most emotional) in the film. The Thor-Loki-Odin power struggle and meditations on what it takes to be a good king were some of the best moments in Thor 1 - and The Dark World sustains (and even builds-upon) these ideas with fresh developments.

Thor 2 The Dark World Tom Hiddleston Chris Hemsworth Thor: The Dark World Review

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth)

Anyone who didn’t respond to the fish-out-of-water story from the original movie will find Hemsworth’s Thor is significantly more commanding this round. While the character is still at the heart of some humorous moments, The Dark World‘s Thor is a hardened – as well as battle-worn – leader, focused on protecting the people he loves at any cost, and no longer concerned with personal glory. A more resolute Thor means that the Avenger is also more heroic – with some downright kick-butt action moments that showcase his powers (not just his strength) and his iconic hammer. As a result, the movie’s climax is much more exhilarating (and downright inventive) than its predecessor.

Even though Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and the Warriors Three aren’t given quite as much to do this time, The Dark World nonetheless utilizes several returning supporting characters – most notably Jane Foster (Portman) and Heimdall (Elba), who are both much more active and instrumental in the sequel. Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård), and newcomer “intern to the intern,” Ian Boothby (Jonathan Howard) once again handle comedy relief and exposition duty. Dennings nails her timing even in moments of tension, elevating the previously one-note Darcy character into one of The Dark World‘s most enjoyable inclusions.

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Natalie Portman as Jane Foster in ‘Thor: The Dark World’

As mentioned, the film doesn’t escape all of the pitfalls of a shared universe film experience. The Dark World is overstuffed with key characters (at expense of its villains) and some moviegoers will still have trouble suspending disbelief that Thor and his rag-tag group of do-gooders are alone in stopping an enemy that seeks destroy all nine realms. That said, there are enough knowing nods to The Avengers and Battle of New York to prevent The Dark World from being an entirely isolated experience – as the sequel manages to bind the film to prior events, as well as tease what audiences will see in future installments (note: make sure you stay through both the mid-credits and post-credits scenes).

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Thor and Heimdall (Idris Elba) in ‘Thor: The Dark World’

The film is also playing in 3D, but much like the first installment, springing for the added cost is entirely optional – not essential. Anyone expecting a lot of pop-out moments or exceptionally inventive depth-of-field shots will probably walk away underwhelmed. Nevertheless, several scenes do take advantage of three-dimensional visuals – and Asgard is more immersive in the premium format.

In the end, Thor: The Dark World succeeds at building on the Thor (and Avengers) foundation to offer a bigger and more exciting adventure for Marvel’s God of Thunder. At times, the film juggles too many fan-favorite elements and a few are underserved (most notably Lady Sif, the Warriors Three, and the Dark Elves). Regardless, Taylor’s Phase Two installment manages to walk a fine (and challenging) line between digging deeper into its main cast of characters and the continuing Marvel Universe storylines. Some moviegoers may be divided on certain plot beats and developments, but overall The Dark World manages to build momentum and enthusiasm for Thor’s return in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, which -  given the stakes, logistical challenges, and Marvel’s grand ambition for a shared universe – is a major accomplishment.

If you’re still on the fence about Thor: The Dark World, check out the trailer below:

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Thor: The Dark World runs 112 minutes and is Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content. Now playing in 2D and 3D theaters.

Seen the movie and want to discuss it without SPOILING it for those who haven’t seen it? Head over to our Thor: The Dark World Spoilers Discussion.

Want to know how Thor 2 lays ground for future Marvel Films? Read our Thor: The Dark World End-credits Explanation article.

For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant editors check out our Thor: The Dark World episode of the SR Underground podcast.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future reviews, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

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TAGS: thor 2

308 Comments

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  1. Careful there, Thor. I think you snapped that one prisoner’s neck… You know how people don’t like that.

    THOR!!! Don’t smash that building! You know how much people don’t like that!!!

    • Haha. I’m with your train.

  2. Iron Man 3 was garbage. Thor 2 and MOS were amazing. Get over it.

    • not mos bro

  3. Thor 2 must be the greatest Marvel movie. I mean, just look at how many references to “humor” people post in the reviews! That’s where it’s all at, right there. Forget common sense, dramatic tension,suspension of disbelief, or scientific logic…..we go to Marvel movies to get our LAUGH on!

    Man of Steel was a true piece of garbage. I mean, oh yeah…it had acting….directing….tried to make logical sense in it’s own universe….BAH. I didn’t laugh out loud ONE TIME watching it. And what was with that serious ending? Adult white males can’t handle that sort of drama. I spent four sessions with my new shrink (the old one kicked me out) just trying to get over that ending. Man of Steel needed laughs, and stupidity, and did not deliver. That’s it, no more DC. Can’t wait for Thor 3!!!

    • I love you. Every Marvel fanboy needs to read this.

    • Are you like, being sarcastic?

      • Because it’s hard to tell!

  4. I was dissapointed in Thor 2 as the main storyline was underdevloped and it was also uninteresting like I didnt give a toss if Thor won I just was bored throughout the main story of the film. However things picked up when Thor was around Heimdall as Idris Elba kicks ass, whenever he had an action scene [except the end as to me it was convoluted but whatever] and whenever Loki was around as Loki stole every scene he was and the film really needed more Loki. Natalie Portman I found fun maybe once or twice but to me it felt like she was bored and didnt give a toss, Anthony Hopkins was fine, Sif and the Warriors 3 are always fun so they entertained me and Malekith was a very uninteresting villain and watching his scenes were like a chore but I did like Kurse he had more personality than Malekith and he atleast did something meanacing. The humor in this was very forced and at times innapropriate as it was like serious scene then joke and it caught me off guard a number of times especially with Darcy who I didnt mind in the first film but she was irritating the whole way through with her unfunny forced humor. Overall it was a letdown but as I said it had a number of redeeming elements to warrent a 6.7/10 rating but take away Loki and a couple of other scenes and you get a 5 for the main story but that is just my opinion. Also it’s hard to trust people who say Thor 2 is better than Thor 1 as Thor 1 had better pacing, a better script and better acting and the main story was actually interesting and the film as a whole was much much more fun to watch and is very rewatchable wheras Thor 2 maybe once a year.

    • I like Darcy, and I like Thor. But they do not Neccessarily mix well. The Thorverse works best when treated with elegance, IMO.

  5. I liked it. Bit WAY to much stupid humor,

    I’ll go see a comedy when I want that. A few laughs are fine, but this movie over did it.

  6. Here is our video reveiew.

  7. I would have actually given this film more along the lines of 4 stars. I thought that it was really good and not forgettable by any any means.

    As for the Avengers universe this is what I would rate the movies thus far:

    Thor: 4 stars
    Thor 2: 4 stars
    Captain America: 3.5 stars
    Hulk (Norton): 3 stars
    Iron Man 1: 4.5 stars
    Iron Man 2: 3 stars
    Iron Man 3: 3.5 stars
    Avengers: 4.5 – 5 stars

    Also other relevant marvel films:
    X-men: 3.5 stars
    X-men 2: 4.5 stars
    X-men 3: 2.5 stars
    X-men Origins Wolverine: 1.5 stars
    X-men First Class: 4 stars
    The Wolverine: 3.5 stars

    Amazing Spiderman: 4 stars

  8. 3 out of 5 stars. Most mundane Marvel film since Iron Man 2, for me. I much preferred the first Thor. It was more focused. And this one did not really live up to the “dark” implication of the title.

    For all the action, it just was not that truly engaging for me. And it felt very long, inducing fatigue.

  9. Saw this movie this past Saturday, and I hesitated before posting anything just to see what some of the feedback was.

    This movie was absolutely amazing. The quality and degree of humor in it made it an exciting sequel to watch; compared to the disappointment of IM3. Yes IM3 was a disappointment, but I’m eager to see what Marvel is up to since they have called up Sir Ben Kingsley for a “project”.

    In the first installment of Thor, the depiction of Asgard was similar to Emarald City from the Wizard of Oz; too shiny and Disney-ish. With Alan Taylor directing I was very eager to watch it because of the huge success with Game of Thrones. Asgard was explored a lot better and even though it had a darker tone, Alan Taylor still managed to capture that high statute that Asgard is suppose to be. Odin spectating some of his men in training was very neat as well.

    Those that keep comparing this to MoS don’t realize that Marvel has already taken the upper hand by you even beginning to make the argument that a sequel compares to the umpteenth reboot of Superman. Lets hope Batman vs Superman, or whatever it’s called, can be “better than” MoS. You guys set a very high standard for any movie after MoS. I loved MoS as well, but I don’t like to compare it to Marvel films. It’s a lost cause.

    • If there was a like button for your post, i wouldve clicked like. Very well written, Sir.
      Tha being said. I’m not sure how I feel about this Thor the dark world and the ending.
      Still waiting to see the Warrior Madness that Thor is supposed to have. And He was virtually powerless against Kurse and Malekith.

      ****SPOILER ALERT****

      So what happened to Odin and where is he?

      in the final end of credits scene, it was obvious to me that was Loki, tonguing down Jane Foster!!!

      • Since Hulk won’t be seen until maybe the second installment of Avengers, I would have loved to see him go toe to toe with Kurse or even the Kronan warrior. I’m anxious to see how Thor will be able to take on Ultron; who almost seems to be Iron Man minus the man and on steroids technically speaking.

        I was asking the same question about Odin. What happened to him?

  10. The way i see it , you marvel/dc fan boys go to the movies saying to your self “Im never going to like the movie made by the opposition no matter how good it is”

    You guys need to calm down its never that serious , i enjoyed IM3 , MOS and thor 2 , and at the end of each movie , im well convinced that it was worth the money and time spent on it . One company prefers humour , the other prefers rich organic story telling .. nothing wrong with both approaches … unfortunately some hate the idea of their beloveth comic book stories being turned into Saturday night live comedy and others find rich organic stories too complicated … fortunately for me .. I love both .. so a good time at the movies is almost always guranteed :D

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  12. How does Thor spend the entire movie saying how he cant trust Loki and trusts him and not know the difference between Loki and Odin.

    If Odin dies, does Thor automatically absorbs the Odin force or Odin’s Power?!?! Or Will Marvel mess that up as well

  13. I’m shocked that people actually liked this movie. I’m from a different generation of Marvel fans. I had too high of expectations for the movie , and was disappointed!!

  14. I`d enjoyed this film it was fun bad ass LOKI once again a fantastic performance. I found the post credit sequence weird with The Collector in it but whatever is awesome I give it a 4 Star

  15. Download and view trailers on http://www.mzcmovies.com

  16. @Mark Puryear, I guess the answer to your question lies in your comment. You and I had high expectations hence the disappointment. Most people didn’t. If you’ve been getting a feel from screenrant the past year since talks on Thor 2 picked up, many weren’t enthusiastic or were indifferent or thought it would be just be okay at best. The Asgardian setting didn’t excite most. The superhero buzz of the year was IM3 and MOS. For me, it was Thor 2. So don’t be too shocked. They were pleasantly surprised with the way Thor 2 came out. Just like I was pleased with IM3 while many with high expectations totally disliked it. Maybe the key is to tone down our expectations.

  17. Finally saw it. I really just don’t like Thor solo. I think he’s great in Avengers, but that whole world is so dumb to me.

    So my opinion is colored by the simple fact that I don’t care for Thor. Overall the movie didn’t interest me and the plot was hard to follow. I mean, it was something about the “aether” and the end of everything, so maybe it wasn’t so much hard to follow as completely uninteresting. The villain was pretty non-existent.

    On the bright side, I thought the character interactions were solid, the humor mostly worked (the kids in the audience loved Professor Selvig’s antics, and that made it fun), the Loki stuff was really the best part.

    Mid credits scene was weird and seemed unrelated to the main movie. It actually got me thinking that GotG might turn out to be awful, but we’ll see. The after credits scene is just fluff, but it’s substantial enough to wait around for if you are interested.

    For me:

    Iron Man 3 and The Wolverine were the best.

    Thor and MOS were close. Honestly MOS had a better plot and villain, Thor had a lot more and successful (enough) humor, better character interaction, and more interesting action. If these movies were combined, they would be pretty good IMO. The only thing left to fix would be the uncreative, cheesy music.

  18. I felt the comedy in this one was far worse than any other Marvel film; I wish they would have left it out. Other than that, I felt it was a very good movie. 3/5 for me.

  19. I thought it was better than the 1st but it still lacked that certain something you would get from the Iron Man films… Still its solid entertainment and that’s no bad thing at all… I look forward to the ante being lifted even higher for the third instalment.

  20. I walked out of the theater when Odin says “we’re not gods”. Not literally, I was watching it online, so I closed the browser. I’m sick of that. Thor is the thunder GOD. They don’t want to imply there are more gods in the universe than “the god” most people on Earth believe in just to keep it safe. They are morons. Asgardians are gods and always have been.

  21. Holy crap this movie was utter b*******. I finished watching it 30 mins ago and the only time the movie was at top was at the ending with Loki. The rest was some serious crap.
    DC Universe is far superior to Marvel when comparing their movies at the moment, but I am still stoked for Guardians of the Galaxy and the next X-Men, but if those fail, I am out of hope for Marvel. I had great hope for The Wolverine, and against all others, I actually liked Wolverine Origins, but The Wolverine was complete b******* compared. Same with Thor 2, I loved the first one, but the second was s***. Avengers is overrated, but still a pretty good movie. Dark Knight and Man of Steel are far superior compared to Marvel Movies these days. Disappointed.

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