‘Thor: The Dark World’ Early Reviews: Another Solid Marvel Fantasy Adventure?

Published 10 months ago by , Updated October 23rd, 2013 at 1:22 pm,

thor dark world movie reviews Thor: The Dark World Early Reviews: Another Solid Marvel Fantasy Adventure?

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark’s most recent adventure, Iron Man 3 left many a hardcore fan grumbling, due to filmmaker Shane Black’s subversive take on the superhero-verse. Nonetheless, the film was well-received by the general public and grossed over a $1 billion in theaters around the globe (thus starting “Phase 2″ of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in style). Now, it’s the God of Thunder’s turn to pick up the baton from his fellow Avenger and carry it forward, with the sequel Thor: The Dark World readying to invade overseas markets around Halloween – a week before it launches in U.S. theaters, that is.

As such, the first wave of reviews for the Thor sequel has crashed online, providing everyone with an early taste of the general critical response to the latest MCU installment. Thus far, director Alan Taylor’s more Game of Thrones-esque version of the Nine Realms – compared to the Jack Kirby-style fantasyland established in director Kenneth Branagh’s Thor - has collectively earned an imperfect, yet still very much admirable score from the judges – with (no surprise) Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston once agin earning high marks for their performances as Thor and Loki, in the sequel.

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[NOTE: The Thor: The Dark World review excerpts are all SPOILER-FREE, but those who are wary of knowing too much about the film in advance might want to pass on reading the full reviews linked below.]

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To start us off, here are what the most positive reviews for Thor: The Dark World have to say about the film (so far):

Movies.com

[Thor: The Dark World] finally delivers the big Thor movie we’ve been waiting for. This movie is completely off-the-wall bonkers. There are action sequences that won’t make sense and a villain who you probably won’t completely understand, but holy crap is this movie exciting to watch when the going gets, well, going.

The Wrap

“Thor: The Dark World” delivers the goods — action, otherworldly grandiosity, romance, humor — above and beyond its predecessor. That doesn’t necessarily launch it into the pantheon of greatness, but it’s at least a reassuring sign that the Marvel juggernaut is remaining firmly on the rails. Or the Rainbow Bridge. Whatever.

Digital Spy

Despite its occasionally bipolar quality, Thor: The Dark World is a hugely entertaining and sharply written continuation of Marvel’s Phase 2, combining heart, spectacle and a shrewd lightness of touch.

Jane Meets Loki in Thor 2 Thor: The Dark World Early Reviews: Another Solid Marvel Fantasy Adventure?

A number of the supporting cast members in The Dark World have already gotten their fair share of critical praise – in particular, both Idris Elba as the Asgardian gatekeeper Heimdall and Rene Russo as Thor’s mother Frigga get to flesh out their characters (and kick some butt in the process). Unfortunately, it sounds as though Natalie Portman as Jane Foster is once again one of the weak aspects of the story, since multiple reviews claim that she is stuck playing the bland damsel-in-distress role for most of her screen time.

Similarly, although Hiddleston is said to make the most of his beefed up screen time as Loki, the Troublemaking God’s heightened presence in the sequel has also been criticized by some for being a little unnecessary (read: larger than needed), with respect to the greater plot. More importantly, it may’ve come at the expense of development time for the main antagonist, Malekith the Accursed (Christopher Eccleston).

However, the complaints don’t stop there…

Read the following mixed-to-positive review excerpts and then you’ll see what we mean:

Crave Online

The proper villain just doesn’t make much of an impression, and the heart and soul of the film are just far enough removed from the actual hero that – in the end – it doesn’t feel like Thor went through as much as he should have to fully justify another whole movie dedicated to him. But if you still love Thor, and especially if you still love Loki, Thor: The Dark World more-or-less satisfies.

The Guardian

Thanks to Hiddleston and Hemsworth’s impressive collective charisma, Thor: The Dark World is far from a franchise killer. Yet the film is missing Branagh’s delicacy of touch: there are numerous comedic interludes, but nothing to match the ingenious cutaway scene from the first film in which Thor walks into a pet shop and cheerfully demands a horse. Taylor provides plenty of weepy material – but there is not a single segue to compare with the brief, pathos-laden shot from Thor of the power-deprived Asgardian hero ignoring his woes to serve a simple breakfast to his human comrades.

Variety

Still, as helmed by Alan Taylor, this robust, impersonal visual-effects showpiece proves buoyant and unpretentious enough to offset its stew of otherwise derivative fantasy/action elements… In the end, that humorous approach is largely the film’s saving grace, keeping the action sufficiently lively and diverting that audiences won’t recognize how recycled the material is, or how low the stakes feel.

thor dark world alan taylor Thor: The Dark World Early Reviews: Another Solid Marvel Fantasy Adventure?

Alan Taylor directing Jaimie Alexander in ‘Thor: The Dark World’

Taylor, on his end, has earned kudos for bringing a greater sense of tangible and organic detail to the fantasy set pieces in Thor: The Dark World. In addition, critics have praised Taylor for executing the mostly straightforward narrative – featured in the script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (Captain America: The First Avenger) and Christopher Yost (The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes) – with occasional bursts of visual splendor and cinematic panache, especially during the dramatic events in the third act.

In fact, some have argued that Taylor’s superhero movie is the most true-in-spirit to its source material out of the MCU installments to date:

Hey U Guys

In many ways, Thor: The Dark World is the most comic book reverent superhero film since the Avengers assembled. Little touches such as Odin’s birds and references to Bor are welcome nods, but most impressive is the deepening of the mythology and the exploration of (some of) the Nine Realms (Asgard is far more layered this time round too).

Others, however, are not so impressed by the comic book-inspired qualities and feel that Thor: The Dark World bears too much of a resemblance to a glorified TV show; which is to say, Tayor’s background as a TV director shows, much in the same way that Joss Whedon’s (arguably) did when he worked on The Avengers.

Here are choice quotes from the naysayers, at this stage:

The Playlist

The result is a film that is enjoyable in spots, but haphazard and ultimately unsatisfying. As with “Iron Man 3,” these films are increasingly feeling like episodes of TV shows or, perhaps more appropriately, issues of comic books.

The Telegraph

The movie needed more grandeur and less dim attitude – above all, it needed a vision. Entrusted to director Alan Taylor, best-known for multiple episodes of The Sopranos, Mad Men and Game of Thrones, it feels entirely made by committee – the definition of house style, without a personal stamp in sight.

In conclusion, the initial consensus is that Thor: The Dark World isn’t a home run, but represents another solid hit for Marvel Studios. And unlike Iron Man 3, it doesn’t sound as though the geekiest of comic book geeks will be left shaking their heads about huge deviations from the source material by the time the Thor sequel draws to a close (at least, not complaining as much, anyway).

Look for Screen Rant‘s own review of Thor: The Dark World, when the film opens in the U.S. (in just over two weeks)!

517895481 3 620 439 Thor: The Dark World Early Reviews: Another Solid Marvel Fantasy Adventure?

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Thor: The Dark World opens in U.S. theaters on November 8th, 2013.

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TAGS: thor, thor 2

33 Comments

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  1. YEEE!! Can not wait to see this now!

  2. Hm, looks my worries about a lackluster and unmotivated villain weren’t that far off :/
    One of my my biggest concerns about the movie has been “What is it actually about? What does the villain want?” and looking at some of these reviews, I may not be happy with the answers.

    I’m also kinda weary of all the humor I’ve been hearing about. Obviously, a Marvel movie needs humor (it’s kinda one of their calling cards), but as with IM3, I was hoping and expecting a darker more serious tone (which is what the trailers indicated – as well as both directors).

    Goes without saying though, I’ll be seeing this movie on day 1, and most likely one or two more times after that :D, but after IM3 and what I’ve been hearing about Thor:TDW… and that which has had me worried since the initial plot synopsis was released, I’ll be going in with slightly lower expectations.

  3. I would love to see a darker Marvel movie but since there so successful within the formula they use it doesn’t look like it will be coming any time soon. I’m sure this will be a spectacle and provide me with a good couple of hours entertainment which is what these films have been so good at delivering.

  4. Sounds like it’ll be entertaining though not too strong in the storytelling department. I’m worried the extra filming that was done to add Loki was not to benefit the story and overall quality of the film but to give people more of what they like. It also sounds like the villain isn’t too strong. Either way, the movie is sounding like it is has great action, a solid comedic side (which I’m hoping isn’t forced) and overall just plain entertaining. It’s just enough for me to go check it out, maybe not day one but after a couple weeks.

  5. Sounds good to me! I cant wait to watch it on Halloween weekend here at home !

  6. Thor’s side boob picture above FYI.

    • well … now i’m all wet.

  7. “… these films are increasingly feeling like episodes of TV shows or, perhaps more appropriately, issues of comic books.”

    Imagine that… I can’t understand why they’d want a comic book movie to feel like an actual comic book. Weird.

    • I think what they meant was it’s becoming too episodic and that the film doesn’t cover much ground in terms of story. Comic book, hell yes, issues of comic books? Eh I dunno. Well that’s how I see anyway.

    • Well, look at Star Trek: Into Darkness. It was a really good movie, but it just felt like a very long tv episode, not a movie. I hope that T:TDW doesn’t have too much of an episodic feel to it, because that really kills the rewatchablity of the movie.

  8. Seems like I’ll enjoy it, but that Christopher Eccleston deserves better. I really wanted him to be an awesome villain.

    • Perhaps he IS an awesome villain, but the reviewers just suck?

  9. So far from what I read from the full reviews… it’s either love it or hate it. The same thing that happened with Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel this year. So expect divisive reception from audience as well. One thing that is indeed the same on all reviews, is how Loki is the movie’s highlight and Malekith is an ‘uninteresting’ villain. Then again, I personally think Malekith was never that interesting in the original stories/EMH, so it’s not a surprise.
    And for those who are ‘disappointed’ with the end credit of IM3 (not me though), this movie got 2 of them that are said to be ‘worth waiting’ for. So there you go…

    Oh, and a friendly notice: don’t read the full review on TheHollywoodReporter before the movie hit your country (if you don’t want to be spoiled). That one is a step by step narrative review, that I just had to stop reading after the first few paragraphs and immediately read the comments section just to find people complaining about how the review spoiled too much.

  10. The heck with them. IM GOING ANYWAY! OFTEN!

  11. Ughhh….more Marvel movie reviews bit—- about there not being ENOUGH humor in a serious comic book movie. Hey, try this…..take it out ALTOGETHER. If you can’t handle a dramatic piece, and need precious comedy relief to relax your fragile mind, then go watch a real comedy.

  12. I feel like marvel isnt striving to improve itself. They stick to the same formula and their films end up being solid. They havnt reinvented the genre and offer nothing new in each film. Ill wait and see but this will end up around 70-78% i believe like most of their films do.

    • +1
      My thoughts exactly. They found the formula and are now sticking to it.

      • Sounds like Guardians will be that gamble though.

        One can only hope.

        • Guardians of the Galaxy definitely looks like it’ll be offering something new. Brand new characters (Rocket Raccoon looks completely badass aha), new premise and a completely different story, it”ll all feel fresh and new, well I hope it will.

          • Brand new exterior sure… but weve seen space adventurez. I want guardians to break the mold in the interior, the story and tone needs to be diffrent. I either want them to go full blpwn comedy or really serious. Marvel films teader those lines and never valance them very well, usually the drama is limited

            • Trey, you ended the plural form of a word with a z, your argument has no merit.

  13. 82% rottentomatoes score ain’t bad but most films drop. Hope it’s a fun film and holds in the 80s.

  14. Crave Online

    The proper villain just doesn’t make much of an impression, and the heart and soul of the film are just far enough removed from the actual hero that – in the end – it doesn’t feel like Thor went through as much as he should have to fully justify another whole movie dedicated to him. But if you still love Thor, and especially if you still love Loki, Thor: The Dark World more-or-less satisfies.

    I friggin hate this in films, underutilized villains. I hope that was just one man’s interpretation of it.

    • For me 2013 has been the year for underutilized villains!

      • Good point.

  15. Looks like Marvel Comics is starting to fold over itself with the comedy bits :(

  16. Sounds like an all around very good film in spite of small flaws; Marvel is gonna steal the show.

  17. I want to give you a big kiss then cuddle with you through the night for giving an accurate description of Iron Man 3 unlike most articles on this site that make it seem like it was a catastrophe of biblical proportions.

  18. Based on the reviews, it sounds like this movie is going to be fun but not a well constructed masterpiece. Also, did the guy from “Hey You Guys” not notice the Odin’s ravens Hugghin and Munnin the first Thor and in Avengers?

  19. This is going to be great.

  20. I hate when studios add unnecessary characters over story development. At least this one sounds like its closer to the source material

  21. Will be seeing this opening day next week.
    Cant wait!

  22. Variety:

    “In the end, that humorous approach is largely the film’s saving grace, keeping the action sufficiently lively and diverting that audiences won’t recognize how recycled the material is”

    …except for those of us who recognize that sort of thing right away and find the humorous approach to be the ultimate cop-out and nagging reminder that this is all owned by Disney.

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