Despite the presence of Kenneth Brannagh behind the camera I thought the first Thor was an okay film, and a mostly unmemorable one. At this point I can’t recall a single scene from that movie. Things changed post The Avengers and Thor 2 is a significantly better, more entertaining and definitely a more memorable movie.
Directed by TV veteran Alan Taylor, Thor: The Dark World corrects most of the mistakes of its predecessor, and adds on a large dose of humor – something that was severely missing in all of the pre-Avengers movies (barring Iron Man). Surprisingly, this is not as much a Thor movie as much as it is a Loki movie. Let’s face it, Thor was entertaining only when he was made fun of by Tony Stark in The Avengers, and Marvel have realized that Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is a cooler, more fun character than the drab muscular Chris Hemsworth. In fact we get to meet Loki in the film before Thor makes his entry.
The story is sadly a mishmash of Captain America, the first Thor and The Avengers – angry villainous dude in outer space needs to find some strange otherworldly object that would give him the power to destroy Earth and take over the universe. This is lazy writing no doubt, but the film has a couple of neat action set pieces including a fight through wormholes, apparating from one world to the other. The action itself is way more expansive than the first movie, and it’s not overblown or exhausting like in the recent Superman feature. One other thing where Thor 2 improves vastly on is the artwork – all of the CGI and practical sets have this awesome blend of ancient Viking designs and futuristic sci fi overtones. Whether it’s a laser equipped ship crashing into the medieval Romanesque Asgard or a CGI beastie running around London or a human turning into a scary, unstoppable monster, the artwork of the special effects has got you covered, if you watch it in 2D.
Thor 2 also has the same problems that Iron Man 3 did – it’s a mess, and it shows. The narrative is all over the place, catering to the dumbest possible audience. From jarring editing to tonal shifts, there is no semblance of flow or continuity to be found in Thor 2. The heroine, once again, exists only as a damsel in distress, and is once again played by a laughably bad Natalie Portman. Also there is absolutely zero sense of wonder or discovery along the way because we’re given the whole mystery in the first five minutes. It’s annoying, and the dumbing down was clearly Marvel interfering with the director’s vision and process. It might be a ‘winning formula’ but it’s unfair to Taylor that Marvel didn’t take a risk and refused him a chance to make a smarter, more cohesive movie.
To make up for its gaffes Thor 2 has not one, but two post credits scenes, one of which is guaranteed to blow your mind because it offers a glimpse into the unbelievably massive scope of Marvel’s next film. I won’t spoil the name, but I can assure you that this film crosses two different universes, and is so ginormous it makes the Batman-Superman movie look puny in comparison. Guess away.
(First published in MiD Day)