Australian Council on Children and the Media

Thor: The Dark World

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Not suitable under 12, parental guidance recommended 12-15 (Violence; Disturbing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Thor: The Dark World
  • a review of Thor: The Dark World completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 31 October 2013.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not suitable due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children aged 12 to 15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Thor: The Dark World
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Action violence
Length 112 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Thor: The Dark World opens with a prologue describing events set one thousand years in the past. Thor’s grandfather and an army of Asgard soldiers engage in a fierce battle with a demonic army of Dark Elves lead by the vengeful Malekith (Christopher Eccleston). Malekith has created an evil power called the Aether which he intends on using to plunge the Nine Realms into chaos and darkness. Luckily for the Nine Realms, the Asgard army triumphs, Malekith is banished and the evil Aether is hidden deep in the depths of an un-named planet.

One thousand years later, Thor’s brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has been imprisoned on Asgard (for crimes committed in the first Thor film), and the Nine Realms are about to come into alignment. This happens once every thousand years and results in all manner of strange phenomena, such as the temporary opening of doorways between realms. Unluckily, the film’s heroine astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is accidentally transported through one of these doorways, discovers the hidden location of the long lost Aether and becomes an unwitting host of the demonic power.

After being made aware of Jane’s disappearance, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) travels to Earth and, much to the annoyance of Thor’s father King Odin (Anthony Hopkins), brings Jane back to Asgard where it is discovered Jane has become host to the Aether.

Jane’s possession by the Aether reawakens the banished Malekith and his army of Dark Elves, who wreak death and destruction when they attack Asgard in a bid to retrieve the power. Thor and Loki now battle Malekith across the Nine Realms as they attempt to defeat him before he can use the Aether to destroy the universe.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Mythology; superheroes; treason and betrayal; death of a family member

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains intense sequences of action violence, at times brutal, but minimal blood and gore are depicted. There are scenes depicting multiple and mass deaths. Examples include:

  • The film contains several battle scenes during which we see multiple explosions, warriors shots by laser beams and bolts of energy and killed with swords, spears and double bladed axes, and hand to hand combat with warriors having their heads twisted and necks snapped.
  • During one battle scene a Dark Elf warrior transforms into a large horned warrior with a mummified face. The creature has super-human strength and slaughters numerous Asgard warriors. It strangles two guards, snaps the necks of others and, in a later scene, strangles a woman and runs her through from the back with a sword.
  • After Jane is possessed by the Aether, we see a number of policemen hurled through the air by a large red shock wave emanating from her body.
  • One scene depicts a prison break out on the planet Asgard with alien prisoners attacking and killing Asgard guards with swords and axes; lots of slashing and stabbing with minimal depiction of blood and gore.
  • One scene depicts a highly stylised fight between Thor’s mother and a Dark Elf with Thor’s mother wielding a sword in a flurry of martial arts-like movements, ending with her holding the sword to the Dark Elf’s throat.
  • In one scene depicting a fight between Thor and Loki, we see Loki sever Thor’s hand at the wrist with a sword. We see the stump but blood and gore are kept to a minimum.  In a later scene, Thor severs both arms from a Dark Elf; we see both severed arms lying on the ground.
  • In one of the film’s more brutal scenes we see a Dark Elf repeatedly bludgeoning Thor, hitting him in the face and body with its fists.
  • A fight on Earth between the Dark Elf Malekith and Thor results in extensive collateral damage to buildings and cars with streets ripped apart, buildings destroyed and cars crushed. At the end of the fight we see a couple of minor cuts to Thor’s face. 

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • There are many scary creatures such as the Dark Elves with pale skin and white eyes, some horned humanoids and a giant lizard-like monster.  There are scenes of transformation involving some of these creatures which could be particularly scary for this age group.      
  • The Aether appears as a miasma of red/black smoky tendrils that has a life of its own. In one scene we see the Aether wrap its black smoky tendrils around Jane and enter her body.    One scene depicts the Aether transforming into thousands of shards of red glass with each shard penetrating a Dark Elf’s body as the Aether possesses the elf. When the elf opens his eyes they glow red.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • In one emotionally intense scene we see a dead woman lying in the bottom of a funeral boat with is set on fire and launched over a waterfall along with hundreds of other boats containing Asgard warriors killed in battle.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned violent and scary scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above mentioned scenes.

Product placement

None of concern in the film, although associated merchandise is marketed to children

Sexual references

There are some mild sexual references in this movie, including:

  • One scene depicts Jane and Thor flirting with the pair almost managing to kiss before being interrupted. 

Nudity and sexual activity

The film contains occasional partial nudity and mild sexual activity. Examples include:

  • Women wear low-cut tops.
  • One scene depicts news footage of a man running around naked; the man’s genital area and buttocks are pixelated.
  • A couple of scenes depict a man in his underwear, and we are told that he thinks better if he doesn’t wear his pants.
  • In a couple of scenes a man and woman are seen kissing in a comical situation.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • One reference is made to Thor celebrating a battle victory with drink and we see Thor sitting in a tavern-like setting alone, holding a tankard of unknown drink; no intoxication is depicted.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • witless oaf; banana balls; where the hell?; shit; witch;  see you in hell; Jesus   

In a nutshell

Thor: The Dark World, sequel to the film Thor, is a fantasy action film targeted at adolescent males and other fans of Marvel comics. The Dark World is darker than the first Thor film but contains some clever humour. The M rating is well-deserved. The film contains sometimes brutal violence and scary scenes and characters which make it unsuitable for under 12s, and parental guidance is recommended for the 12-15 age group. 

The main messages from this movie are:

  • Love triumphs over all.
  • Responsibility and commitment to family needs to be balanced with one’s own needs and it important to seek out your own way in life. 

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Selflessness: Throughout the film Thor demonstrates selflessness by repeatedly placing himself in dangerous situations to protect others and by placing the need of others above his own.
  • Family bonds: Family tragedy forced Thor and Loki to put aside their differences for the greater good.

Parents may also wish to discuss with their children the importance of deciding what is important and of value in your life. Thor gave up a kingdom to follow his heart and maintain his relationship with Jane.

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