Thor: The Dark World strikes mighty blow
Like its big brother, Marvel’s The Avengers, the latest Marvel Studios release, Thor: The Dark World, is a full-force comic book spectacle. It’s packed with a ton of superhero grand scale action, complex characters and never loses sight of one of the most important traits of this comic book movie sub genre — it’s a heck of a lot of fun.
From the more obvious scenes where Thor (Chris Hemsworth, Rush) is flying around whacking opponents with his hammer to the smaller bits where he hangs his hammer on a coat rack, the film is entertainment first, analytical character dissection of a modern superhero a distant second.
In preparation of his ascension to the throne of his home world Asgard, Thor is traveling through the Nine Realms putting an end to any conflicts. His hammer is willing, but his heart is still with Earth bound Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Thor’s father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), disapproves thinking the Asgardian warrior Sif (Jamie Alexander, The Last Stand) a far better choice since Asgardians live far longer than humans.
Jane is now trying to move on, but once you’ve dated a thunder god, a mere mortal doesn’t quite compare. Jane and her intern, Darcy (Kat Dennings), discover a mysterious substance connected to an old Asgardian enemy — Malekith (Christopher Eccleston, G.I. Joe – Rise of Cobra) and his army of Dark Elves. Worse, the substance manages to infect Jane giving her unimaginable power.
Quickly realizing the terror Jane’s awoken, Thor brings her to Asgard in hopes that Odin can free her before the Dark Elves come to reclaim their possession.
Unlike Iron Man 3, this feels like the true sequel to The Avengers. That makes sense as that film’s main villain — Loki (the brilliant as always Tom Hiddleston) — has to deal with the consequences of his actions. In this case, being stuck in an Asgardian prison, but the threat of the Dark Elves proves so great that Thor is forced to team up with his brother in order to save the Nine Realms.
Since the majority of the film taking place off Earth, there’s not that pesky question of why aren’t the rest of The Avengers coming to help Thor out?
One of the more pleasantly surprising aspects of the film is the screenwriters’ restraint in handling Loki. With Hiddleston’s ease at mesmerizing fans, the writers could have been tempted to double up on Loki scenes just because the audience can’t get enough of the trickster villain. It’s the same dilemma that trapped the X-Men films, which could never move beyond keeping Magneto in every movie at the expense of delving deeper in the X-Men villain roster.
That’s not a problem here. Hiddleston gets enough time to further flesh out Loki and making him more than your one-dimensional villain having the film revolve around him.
As he’s steadily worked since first donning Thor’s chain mail, Hemsworth has matured as an actor carrying a greater sense of confidence and self-assurance beyond simply reprising the role for a third time. His chemistry with Portman continues to be impressive.
Portman assures that Jane isn’t just the damsel in distress in need of constant saving. She plays an active role in trying to save herself and stop The Dark Elves without becoming some souped-up sidekick. Jane isn’t a superhero, but she’s smart enough to handle her own and not be a victim. Darcy seems to have been brought back solely to be the comedic character. It works occasionally, but the movie would have been fine without her.
It was a safe assumption that Director Alan Taylor, stepping in for Thor Director Kenneth Branagh, would be able to bring his experience helming HBO’s fantasy drama Game of Thrones to Thor’s world and he nails it.
Taylor reveals an impressive command of what makes Thor such a unique figure in the Marvel Studios’ universe — one that isn’t restricted to traveling from city to city — but one who can travel from one fantastic realm to the next without the restraints of his Avenger pals.
Make sure to sit through the entire credits. There’s one post-credit scene midway through that neatly sets up the next Marvel Studios film, Guardians of the Galaxy. The second neatly wraps up a couple of dangling plot threads.
In another record-breaking year for comic book movies, Thor: The Dark World saves the best for last. I’m already pumped up for Thor 3.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Photos Credit: Jay Maidment/Marvel Studios