I walked in the theater with high expectations while cushioning my heart for failure. The first Thor movie had me making googly eyes at the Norse god of thunder and by natural law of transitivity, at Chris Hemsworth. Thor’s stint at that epic movie mash-up that is the Avengers solidified my fandom. And thanks to his charismatic, intelligent portrayal in both movies and the actor’s charming Twitter antics and appearances, my affection grew for the god of mischief, Loki and by the same transitive law, Tom Hiddleston.
Historically, with that much bias and high hopes, disappointment is sure to follow. Add to that the slew of trailers released for Thor: The Dark World. The sneak peak of the visuals were definitely breathtaking, the action scenes orchestrated to be massive, with Thor and Jane Foster reunited at last. I feared the film will fall back on those elements – CG effects, winding action sequences, a flimsy love angle — all held up by a soup of a story.
Why, I was happy to be wrong.
Thor: The Dark World‘s success is built on the harmonic marriage between its greatest assets – the literally epic realms wherein Thor and the Asgardians live and prosper, and the mortal, human relationships that somehow makes everything believable. Odin claims, “we are not gods.” And as the film moves, you believe him. Thor is not invulnerable, his hammer Mjolnir is not invincible. Odin, though the Allfather, is not God Omniscient and ever wise, and was actually revealed to be narrow-minded, arrogant, and discriminating at his worst. The characters have to make choices and sacrifices just like any mortal. Heimdall, Fandral, Volstagg and Lady Sif chose treason in full trust and support of Thor. Sif chose to look past her unrequited love and take up her warrior’s spear instead. Queen Frigga‘s brave spar with Malekith obviously had no wholly triumphant end, but still I was hopeful until the blade slid through her flesh.
Since I speak of hope this might be the best segue to the most important relationship of all in the film. The Avengers’ triumph in New York ended with Loki — master-diva of the evil plot — in shackles and behind Asgardian bars. We see him unrepentant, unaffected by Odin’s might and venom. But we see that Frigga can reach him where Odin, and maybe even Thor could not, and there sparks the flicker of hope. When Thor approaches him with a thinly sealed pact, Thor’s frankness about his complete lack of trust of him, and absent desire to grieve for their common loss could have been the best way to approach the sly Loki. Thor made it known to Loki that he is stronger, wiser, less gullible than before. But when they were playing out the plot together, Thor and Loki’s bickering and natural chemistry showed that their bond lies deeper than both would recognize. Loki’s willingness to lend his talents and magic to Thor’s cause, to protect Jane and fight for them, reveals the slim possibility that he may not be too far gone. Yes, I say that even with how the film ended.
Jane’s relationship with Thor, central in the first film, is a crucial plot line here too (albeit less so than Loki’s). Their easy chemistry and strong attraction that went beyond realms anchored the film to Earth (pun intended). I liked it that Jane, though not a warrior princess like Sif, was not the typical damsel in distress. She is intelligent, confident, and brave, enough to hold her own even in front of Asgardian royalty. Although she started the movie as a host to one of the most menacing energies in the universe, Thor could not have saved the Nine Realms without her scientific genius and her team.
That said, the film benefits greatly from its stellar cast. Led by the charismatic, much improved Chris Hemsworth who brings the god of Thunder to realistic life, flanked by superstars Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Rene Russo, Christopher Eccleston, Stellan Skarsgard among many others, and of course, the one and only Tom Hiddleston, Thor: the Dark World was equipped with more than CGI to deliver Marvel movie magic.
Is this still my biased word? Definitely. This review is my personal opinion after all. But if I have managed to entice you to watch Thor: the Dark World, then my work here is done. See you again for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and X-Men Days of Future Past.
Photo and video credits to owners.