MOVIE REVIEW – ‘Thor: The Dark World’

Written by J.T. Johnson

4-stars

DIRECTOR: Alan Taylor
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Kramer Morgenthau
WRITERS: Christopher Yost, Stephen McFeely, Christopher Markus
MUSIC: Brian Tyler

As a kid, I was never much of a fan of the Thor comic book character. For whatever reason, I thought that the character was a bit too ridiculous even for a superhero. It was not until 2011’s “Thor” that I truly began to not only respect but like the character. While that film was a smaller affair with most of the action taking place in New Mexico, “Thor: The Dark World” is a more grand and epic action movie.

This time, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has been imprisoned for his crimes in “Thor” and “The Avengers”. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has just finished the final battle of a two year war to rebuild the peace between the Nine Realms since the destruction of the Bifrost Bridge. While all seems to be back to normal, Thor is still longing for his chance to reunite with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).

In the meantime, it has been set up that Odin’s father, Bor, once clashed with the Dark Elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) when Malekith was seeking the power of the liquid stone known as the Aether. Bor succeeds and the Aether is buried and forgotten while Malekith escapes into exile. Ultimately, the Aether is found by none other than Jane who is examining gravitational anomalies in an attempt to find Thor.

The Aether then inhabits her body and Thor comes to the rescue. Thor takes Jane back to Asgard in order to find out what the Aether is and how to remove it from her body. This is to the chagrin of Odin (Anthony Hopkins) as he feels Thor is wasting his time with a human woman.

From here the plot continues to push forward and as can be seen in the trailers, certain events force Thor to reunite with his brother. Of course, this leads to even more drama as Thor and Loki try to understand each other better as the film moves along at a pretty brisk pace.

The first thing to note is the majestic beauty of Asgard. In the first movie, Thor’s homeworld seemed to be a little too polished and did not really look all that believable. In this movie, with even more Nordic flavor thrown in, Asgard looks like a living breathing place. I cannot stress how much of an improvement this is when compared to the first movie.

Secondly, the action is astounding this time around. It is all on an epic scale combining both elements from other fantasy flicks and “Star Wars”. The climactic battles are also a sight to behold and worth seeing the film for alone. It is only a tad behind “The Avengers” this time out, but if you had trouble with “Iron Man 3” earlier this year, this may be the MCU movie for you instead.

The performances are as strong as ever. Hemsworth is excellent as Thor as is Hiddleston as he once again plays the homicidal Loki. Portman plays the damsel-in-distress role more in this film than in the first, but she still gives Jane a lot of strength. She plays her as a strong character that just so happens to have something extremely wrong with her and only Thor and his people can help her.

The supporting cast is also good to watch including Kat Dennings as Jane’s assistant Darcy Lewis, a role that adds a little more comic relief to the proceedings. Stellan Skarsgard also returns as Dr. Erik Selvig, a character who has not gone unscarred from his role in “The Avengers”. In addition to that, there are some great cameos including Chris O’Dowd as Richard, a character that is trying to date Jane.

Beyond the good stuff, there are some minor dialogue issues and a couple of dead moments, but it’s just nitpicking stuff at this point. While plenty of people had problems with “Iron Man 3”, I thought it kicked off Marvel’s Phase 2 rather well. With “Thor: The Dark World”, Phase 2 has officially entered the next level.

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