This movie is only half dark. In fact the other half is probably more light-hearted than Iron Man 3. There is much about this movie to rant and nitpick, and much that made me hate this movie, but despite some really big flaws, it was still an enjoyable experience. Tom Hiddleston as Loki is pretty much the only reason this movie is worth watching. It feels more like a satire than a legitimate film, it spits in the face of mythology, and uses so many forced plot conveniences to forcefully hold together an otherwise unworkable story.
Having said that, the visuals are pretty decent, and the comedic half of the film, while frustratingly incompatible with the dead serious half, is pretty entertaining. As long as you're willing to turn of your critical brain and accept that this is ultimately a comic book movie in a comic book universe, then you'll have a fun enough time, which ironically I did despite acknowledging this is a below-average film.
4.5 / 10.0
This is the first modern superhero film that I can actually say I feel hatred towards. It isn't the most boring Marvel film I have seen coming out of this franchise (that honour goes to Elektra). But given what a great job they have been doing to ground all their movies in a world not too removed from reality, this is by far their weakest effort from a 'make it relateable' standpoint.
I don't read the comic books these films are based on, so maybe this film is actually more true to the source material than the others, but from what I gather modern comic books generally carry a darker, more serious tone, with settings and characters heavily influenced by the modern world; Iron Man with terrorism, Hulk with bio-enhancement/medical research, and S.H.I.E.L.D. with big government surveillence programs, just to name a few. These are very touchy subjects in the western world at the moment, and for the most part they were handled intelligently and respectfully.
Thor is arguably the hardest one to do well, because his character and world is inspired by Norse mythology, and whose stories are grounded in ancient lore which predated science and mathematics. They did it quite well in the first film by framing Asgard as an alien race that is simply older and more able to use the potential power of the cosmos. They are not deities in the creation sense, but their culture and mannerisms were remarked in Earth legend during their visits eons ago. So the first Thor movie was a decent way to show that with scientific advancements, people on Earth realize that Asgard's nine realm view of the universe is more or less compatible with Earth scientist. They just use different terminologies and have different space capabilities.
The first Thor film humanised the gods in mythology to make them a conceivable existence in the modern world. But this film doesn't do that. It humiliates them. It introduces a villain that supposedly predates the universe itself, created the powerful Aether that could have wiped out the universe during a galactic alignment, but even in its combined power, can apparently can be defeated by one dude with a hammer. Thor even makes it a point to mention this during the climax fight!
Now I'm all for a villain who is way over their head about their abilities, but the problem is that these characters are dead serious. They don't joke, they don't verbally spar, and they are sincere in their cause. Malekith's henchman willingly sacrifice his life to the cause of his master with no hesitation. This is good stuff, great performances with no reservations, but then you interleave that with Loki making fun of Thor and his new friends, or Jane Foster's interns messing around with the teleportals, you don't have space to appreciate how dangerous they should be. No one seems to be genuinely afraid of these guys. There is no despair, no tension. Aside from Loki's (apparent) death towards the end, they don't pose any genuine threat because you know that they will beat him somehow.
This is basically why I hated the movie. It doesn't pick a tone and deliver all the way. It keeps alternating between the serious, darker apocalyptic story, and the light-hearted, satirical handling of the animosity between the Asgardian family members. In terms of character development, Loki is the only one with a sizeable growth in complexity and depth. He masks his grief and pain in jokes and mischief, but it also comes off as too comedic and cheap, such that when he does 'die' the audience has to make a difficult transition from mild laughter to deep sobriety.
It is clear that his character was meant to be ambiguous, and in some respect they succeeded, but from a film tone perspective, it is too disruptive to allow the audience to fully appreciate both his sinister side and his potential for redemption, almost like in The Avengers, except the balance and transition between threatening and comic relief in that film was a lot more effective.
After Thor and Jane laments for the death of Loki and are stranded on that dusty world, they manage to return to Earth to stop Malekith in the most contrived way I have seen in ages. So there are all these portals opening up between worlds, but we are told these worlds are all quite massive. So what are the chances of Thor and Jane just stumbling upon the exact portal that goes back to Earth, and in exactly the same place where the first portal was discovered?
This is beyond convenient, to the point of being almost unbelievable, given that later on we see how the portals actually transport people randomly across the 9 worlds. You could argue that there was only one area in each world where these portals are popping up, but seriously, this strips any opportunity for character development of Thor and Jane. They solved the problem because they got lucky.
Another plot convenience was that, of all the people on Earth, Jane Foster was the one who found the Aether, thus setting into motion everything else that happens. This girl was just destined to be a part of Thor's world! I honestly thought it would have been a lot more interesting if Darcy (the intern) was the one who became the host for the Aether. Thor would still have to come back to Earth, and he brings both of them back to Asgard. This way Jane could interact with Thor and his friends/family without the pressure of being the Aether host.
I also thought that Loki and Darcy could have had some really interesting interactions if they met in this film. They don't have to be romantically involved, but of all the characters in both films, I liked Loki and Darcy the most. They might have been good friends. But no, they don't even interact once after two movie appearances.
Based on the trailer, I was expecting there to be some focus regarding the unrequited love of Sif (the female warrior) towards Thor and her jealousy towards Jane. But from the very first scene you can already tell that Sif has zero chance of any reciprocation from Thor. Then she gets over it equally quickly. This thread of the story is introduced and resolved in like 2 minutes. Later on she gives one slightly dirty look at Jane when she walks pass, but that's the extent to which their love triangle is handled. Hell, even Bella, Edward and Jacob had a better love triangle story!
But even if you ignore the love triangle bit and just assume it is about Thor and Jane's relationship, I don't think their relationship develops at all. They are too busy doing stuff, moving around places, and worrying about everyone else that aside from being physically together again, I recall only two scenes with any degree of emotion or passion between them. In fact, Thor and Loki had a much more compelling 'love' story. Though if they went that route they would be completely deviating from the source material, but I'm sure it would please a large portion of the audience. Certainly the film might've been better as well.