Road to Infinity War – Thor: The Dark World, or, Malekith in the Middle

Oh I did it fam. In preparation for my viewing of Avengers: Infinity War on April 26th at 7PM, I went back and rewatched the previous 18 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, from Iron Man to Black Panther. Every day leading up to Infinity War I’ll be posting a short piece on each film and my most recent hot takes on nearly a decade of the MCU. I’ll also be linking back to whatever old nonsense I wrote about the movies at the time, if applicable. And if that isn’t enough, check out my ranked listed of the MCU to date on my Letterboxd account here.

thedarkworld

Trust me, it says “The Dark World.”

Did you see that title? Come on, I am killing it with that title. Don’t even feel compelled to write anything else. But I will. Because I’m killing it.

Thor: The Dark World is something of a tease for what audiences would eventually get in Guardians of the Galaxy – unbridled, unapologetic space shenanigans. But much to its detriment, The Dark World is a movie firmly chained to Earth. It gets off of the ground in the middle act and just as it begins to truly soar it’s yanked back down by a cruel leash.

There’s a sense of trepidation to Dark World, as if it’s testing the waters on behalf of the entire MCU for the cosmic insanity to come, and doing so with a disproportionate amount of caution. I don’t know if it was a fear that audiences in 2013 were only willing to get so weird, or so sci-fi, or so fantastical, or if it was some misconception that they could only relate to stakes on Earth, but you can feel this movie holding itself back, reigning itself in, getting in its own way. I mean, in the immediate aftermath of The Avengers what better excuse for Thor not summoning his new friends than “because he is literally in outer space” could you possibly ask for?

And yet!

Dark World doesn’t take a lot of chances, which is particularly obvious after watching its immediately successors, The Winter Soldier and Guardians. So we’re left with a climax set in a drab London besieged by a nonsense MacGuffin (one which I am genuinely excited to see explained in Infinity War).

That said, I really, really dig this movie. And not just because it was the very first movie I went to alone and anything short of being laughed out of the theater and ridiculed by a pack of teen bullies would have constituted a good time at the cinema.

The chunk of this film in the middle that leaves the Earth behind and unleashes sheer imagination across Asgard is more than enough to endear The Dark World to me time and time again. The Star Trek meets Lord of the Ring aesthetic still boasts some of the most inspired design work the MCU has yet to offer, and there’s a marriage of practical and digital effects here that Dark World still doesn’t get enough credit for. The Dark Elves and their weaponry are a visual feast, and for as long as he is a force of antagonism in the film, Kurse is a sight to behold. The blending of sci-fi and fantasy pallets lend the best parts of Dark World a sense of otherworldly, swashbuckling adventure that I still find infectious.

Like I said, I really, really dig this movie. But it’s not Marvel’s best. I get that. Hemsworth, Hiddleston and Hopkins once again bring out the best in each other but the rest of the cast is given far less to chew on. It’s no surprise the MCU and Natalie Portman haven’t crossed paths again after her supreme talents were squandered yet again, and Christopher Eccleston’s Malekith is a bland, wasted use of actor and character alike. I mean, look, dude ain’t even mentioned on the back of the Blu-ray!

But when those creepy Dark Elves pour out of their knife spaceship and throw their reverse grenades and those golden space gladiators in a lavish thrown room?

C’mon.

This take isn’t all that much hotter than my first hot take, but, if you have any interest in me saying the exact same thing only as someone who doesn’t give a shit about Marvel movies:

November 13, 2013: More Like “The DORK World,” or, Just Kidding I Really Liked Thor 2

God I really just have been murdering it with titles for, like, years.

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