Rating: 3.5 Stars
The following review contains spoilers.
A lot of things have changed for Thor recently. He always considered himself an invincible warrior starring in an epic story of battles and adventures. But his time on Earth has taught him the fragility of things, and the value of life. Like he doesn’t throw his mug on the floor anymore, even when all his friends are doing it. Why waste a perfectly good mug, guys? Even when the Dark Elves (yup, that’s what they’re called) attack Asgard and kill his mother, he doesn’t want to go to war and risk sacrificing more of his people’s lives. Odin, holding the exact opposite position on war that he had in the first Thor, thinks casualties are acceptable when needed to defeat the enemy, but Thor has a plan to lure Malekith, leader of the Dark Elves, away from Asgard and zap him with some lightning bolts or whatever. After his father forbids him to leave, Thor breaks Loki out of the dungeon to help him escape, but can Loki be trusted?
No. Well, yes, in a way. Maybe?
Thor and Loki make a great team. Loki constantly on the sidelines needling Thor (“I think you missed a column”) is very entertaining. One of the funniest moments in the movie, though not technically involving Tom Hiddleston, is when Loki transforms into Captain America as they’re walking down the hall. Hiddleston is so good as Loki that you’re almost ready to forgive him for the hundreds of people he’s murdered if he decided he truly wanted to reform. Another great moment for him is when Thor comes to break him out of the dungeon and Loki drops his façade, and you see him lying on the floor, all the furniture wrecked, his foot covered in blood, and you really feel the weight of his grief and his guilt. In that moment, it’s totally believable that he’d work with Thor, and mean it, to avenge their mother’s death.
The final series of action scenes is thrilling. I loved all of the portal craziness, with people disappearing and reappearing, cars getting thrown in one portal and coming out another, etc. Mjolnir constantly changing direction, looking for Thor like a loyal dog. I can completely accept the ending not always making sense (So what are those staff-things again? And how can Jane Foster turn portals on and off with that RC controller?) when the actual experience of the ending is so much fun.
Darcy’s back! Yay, Darcy! Darcy all the time forever.
“Look at you! Still all muscly and everything. How’s space?”
“Space is fine.”
Not enough Darcy.
Natalie Portman is a good actress, sometimes, but she is as dull as anything in these Thor movies. And it’s not entirely her fault, because she’s playing a dull character who’s been pining after Thor to the point where she’s unable to function for two years. He hasn’t called, he hasn’t written. He was in New York, and didn’t drop her like even a text or anything before he went back to Asgard. Imagine if Thor had shown up, ready to pick up where they left off, and she was completely over him? Then you’d at least be able to get some interesting tension out of their relationship.
Also dull: Malekith. What’s this guy’s deal? Marvel Studios gets criticized a lot for having dull villains, and I don’t always agree, but this guy is the dullest villain to date. I do like the weird white masks most of the Dark Elves wear, though. Creepy.
Third dull thing: Asgard. This is more just a personal preference, but I don’t find Asgard a fun place to hang out at all. It’s definitely way more interesting-looking than it was in the first film, but I always prefer when the action returns to Earth.