How Has "Thor: The Dark World" Been Received By Audiences?

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
November 14th, 2013

How Has "Thor: The Dark World" Been Received By Audiences?

By now, fans of superhero-themed movies know the drill: a handsome superhero/god goes on a personal mission to battle enemies who are seeking to destroy the Earth. Such is the premise behind the continuing silver screen adventures of the Mighty Avenger, Thor (Chris Hemsworth)—also known in the Nine Realms as the god of the thunder—and the ever-beautiful Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).

Moviegoers first became acquainted with Thor back in 2011, when he was marooned on Earth and forced to learn humility while surrounded by his inferiors—the human race. Sure, he had his arrogant points when he first came to Earth, but by the end of the movie, he was mature, measured, and ready to live up to everything a god is supposed to be.

The 2013 version kicks off with a prologue that introduces viewers to Thor's grandfather battling a slew of dark elves who are being led by his nemesis, Malekith—an angry dark elf whose mission is to plunge the Earth into darkness by harnessing the mysterious destructive force of the Aether. He falls short in his plans and goes into hibernation along with a few of his fellow dark elves, and Thor's grandfather proceeds to bury the Aether, as it can't be destroyed.

The movie then fast-forwards to two years after Thor (with a little help from the Avengers) stopped his evil brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), from taking over the planet. Thor, with the help of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), must battle the ancient race led by Malekith who has come out of hibernation swinging and determined to send the universe hurling into a dark abyss.

One thing that Marvel fans will find comfort in when watching this film is its ability to allow intense things to happen in the plot of the film. These things have the potential to really shake things up for the future of Marvel and the Marvel universe, at least from a cinematic standpoint, but the status quo is restored before the credits roll. Fans of the comics have seen this strategy used repeatedly in storylines, and its effect in the movie has moviegoers wondering from one moment to the next which way the storyline is going to go—which makes for an edge-of-your-seat viewing experience.

For moviegoers who rushed out to see "Thor: The Dark World," the secret weapon for this film very well may lie in its range of acting talents that seems to make up for the detractions that are seen in the film in spades, according to critics. Many site the performance of Tom Hiddleston, who plays the magnetic bad boy and the exact opposite of golden boy Thor, as the strongest of the film. Still, Hemsworth is genius as Thor, and Portman and Hopkins also deliver praiseworthy performances that help to carry the film through its low points.

The biggest problem that audiences seem to have with "Thor: The Dark World" is that it does not really take the franchise to the expected proverbial next level. As a post-Avengers film, Marvel superhero flicks have to really work double-time if they want to make a mark on the audience. Stakes have to be raised in this genre to really break out and be more than just a blip on the radar.

To a big portion of the audience, "Thor: The Dark World" felt more like a bland continuation of the series than the hoped-for dramatic escalation. While the action in the film, including dramatic battle scenes, did work to improve the story, at times the storyline felt uninvolving and less than imaginative, as if it had been pieced together from cuts from other super hero movies.

With that being said, "Thor: The Dark World" does provide some stunning visuals that make it a beautiful film, including the battering of East London at the film's climax—which is acclaimed for its ability to give the viewer a sense of utter destruction without making it look so cliché, which has been characteristic of films in this niche in previous years. The film's conclusion is quite satisfying and clever, which allows it to end on a good note instead of souring the next installment for the viewer.

All in all, "Thor: The Dark World" is a do-not-skip for Thor fans that is worthy of a second look, despite the fact that it may not be the thunder from the cinema gods that its creators had hoped for. It did not hit the highs of its predecessors, with a weak villain and a storyline that was equally weak. Still, it is an entertaining jaunt into fun and action, and it is a good post-Avengers follow-up film.