review roundup

Review Roundup: Man, the Critics Sure Do Love Loki in Thor: The Dark World

“Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World” Loki (Tom Hiddleston) Ph: Jay Maidment © 2013 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2013 Marvel. All Rights Reserved. Photo: JAY MAIDMENT/Marvel

Thor: The Dark World is getting mixed reviews, with a 54 on Metacritic and a 66 percent on Rotten Tomatoes (read our David Edelstein’s review here), yet every critic seems to share an unabashed love of Loki and the actor that plays him, Tom Hiddleston. Even pans of the film, like the one in the New York Times, found time to call Hiddleston “incomparable.” So, with the film hitting theaters this weekend, we bring you many critics’ praise of Loki and Hiddleston, from the effusive to the extremely effusive. They are the review form of passing Loki a note reading, “Do you like me? Check Yes, No, or Maybe.”

— “The one bright light in Asgard is its darkest soul, Thor’s brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who got all the brains in the Thor family but none of the virtue. He breezes along with an air of uneasy self-satisfaction, smug but not completely sure of himself, and thus more interesting. Actually, in character terms, Loki might be the only interesting person in the movie.” — Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

— “Tom Hiddleston incarnates him as a sinister sylph draped in black leather and chain mail, a Hamlet among hunks. Their brawn often seems puny in comparison with his scheming brain. Loki’s demeanor bears a hint of the gay outsider, an antidote to the solemn testosterone of most of the Avengers crew. Except for Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark, he is one of the few figures in the cosmology who looks to be enjoying himself. Without camping things up, Loki shows that it’s good to be bad.” — Richard Corliss, Time

— “Above all — and I can’t stress this too much, Thor — MORE LOKI! You have a gold mine in each sneer and sarcastic jab from Tom Hiddleston’s pie hole.” —  Steve Persall, Tampa Bay Times

— “Easily giving the finest performance in Hollywood’s entire Marvel Universe, Hiddleston lends merit to this brand that can’t be overstated, as Loki’s cheeky deception is laced with the tear-inducing pain of a bastard son.” — R. Kurt Osenlund, Slant Magazine

— “Nobody gives good sneer like Tom Hiddleston.” — Leslie Felperin, the Hollywood Reporter

— “And, of course, even [Kat Dennings and Jaimie Alexander] are overshadowed by Loki. Hiddleston embraces the role with all four limbs. He gets both the funniest and most heartbreaking moments in Thor: The Dark World.” — Jamie S. Rich, the Oregonian

— “Hiddleston remains the single greatest asset at Marvel’s disposal, a complicated baddie played by a fine actor with a blend of wounded malice and impish glee.” — Ian Buckwalter, NPR

— “The result is a film in which an unmissable Hiddleston once again does a superb job of blending vulnerability with searing evil as he’s freed from prison to help Thor take down the new threat.” — Ben Child, The Guardian

— “The English actor is simply indelible in the role now, as adept at a devilish one-liner (’It’s not that I don’t enjoy our little chats,’ he tells Odin. ‘It’s just … that I don’t’) as he is at suggesting the layers of pain and regret that lurk beneath Loki’s preening, prideful surface.” — Chris Hewitt, Empire

— “The Brit returns to deliver all the best lines as a live-wire Loki.” — Neil Smith, Total Film

— “Hiddleston steals the show here, making wickedness and treachery look a heck of a lot more fun than virtue.” — Michael O’Sullivan, Washington Post

— “Dancing above a leaden plot and lumpy dialogue, Mr. Hiddleston moves his fine-boned features and graceful body, as if what he were doing matters; he seems imported from a quite different movie … Rewarded with the best lines and most flattering camera angles, Loki, the master of illusion, is a genetic anomaly in a bulked-up bloodline. He’s also the spoonful of sugar that helps this medicine go down.” — Jeannette Catsoulis, the New York Times

— “Tom Hiddleston again proves to be good in the part, allowing a little-boy-lost vulnerability into the genocidal trickster while still having fun with him.” — Oliver Lyttelton, The Playlist

— “Loki may be a known quantity by now for Marvel fans, but he’s rarely been more delectable company than he is here — defeated, bitterly sarcastic and utterly indifferent to either his own fate or Asgard’s imminent destruction.” — Justin Chang, Variety

— “The secret weapon is Hiddleston. The best thing the film’s army of five screenwriters did is set the odd couple of Thor and Loki on a sort-of celestial road trip. Loki is puckish, malevolent, peevish, magnetic and, with his Rooney Mara–like pale skin and dark hair, the polar opposite of Hemsworth. Hiddleston’s villainous asides steal the show, and he brightens The Dark World when it needs it most.” — Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News

— “Thor is an interesting superhero and all, but really, people, we need a Loki movie. There’s nothing in Thor: The Dark World that wasn’t done better in Thor, or a lot better in The Avengers. Except Tom Hiddleston’s performance as Loki, Thor’s evil adopted brother. Hiddleston continues to be the best thing about these films, his sneering confidence curdling into condescension. The universe and all its realms simply aren’t big enough for his ego. He knows it, we know it, the filmmakers know it, and Thor: The Dark World is never more alive than when Loki is on-screen.” — Billy Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic

— “Tom Hiddleston, the very definition of a scene stealer.” — Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

— “Hiddleston, with pleading eyes and a mad-dog grin, plays Loki as a wounded sociopath who’s cackling at the world but seething on the inside. Which makes you realize he’s just about the only character in the movie who has an inside.” — Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

— “Consequently, the movie’s most valuable asset may be Tom Hiddleston, reprising the role of Thor’s jealous, treacherous brother, Loki. He’s the only person onscreen with truly complicated motives, and Hiddleston reveals new depths to the character.” — A.A. Dowd, A.V. Club

— “Is there decency in him, or just more deceit? The great thing about Hiddleston’s portrayal of the character is that you’re never sure.” — Dave McGinn, the Globe and Mail

— “In a desperate attempt to head off this apocalypse, Thor ultimately has to set Loki, his villainous but inventive foster brother, free from the prison cell he has inhabited since the end of the last movie. These are by far the best scenes of the film, both because Hiddleston is a crack-up at almost every moment and because he makes this comic-book gloss on a mythological deity feel completely convincing. As in the actual Norse legends, this trickster Loki is an adversary of the gods who is also bound to them and sometimes helps them; Hiddleston actually makes you feel the anguish of a character who genuinely loves those he betrays, and who often wishes he could be better than he is.” — Andrew O’Hehir, Salon 

“Not enough Loki.” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone (This is the review’s first sentence.)

Man, Critics Sure Do Love Loki in Thor 2