Thor - The Dark World (2013)

Director: Alan Taylor

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Kat Dennings, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano, Jaimie Alexander, Rene Russo

Man has long wondered whether there is life elsewhere resembling our own. Two years ago, in “Thor,” Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and others found the answer in bearing witness to the arrival of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) from the realm of Asgard. We also saw in that movie the Frost Giants of Jotunheim, but there were still six other worlds left unrevealed to us. The one thing I had hoped a sequel would bring is more information on the Nine Realms. In this and other areas, “Thor: The Dark World” does not disappoint.

The theme of “sins of the father” is once again explored, only this time it is not Odin (Anthony Hopkins) who kept a secret that is destined to cause grief for all Asgardians. Odin’s father, Bor, once led the charge against the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim, believing to have wiped out the entire race, not realizing that their leader Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) and a few of his men had escaped destruction. Malekith’s great weapon, an invulnerable substance known as the Aether, was good to use only when the Nine Realms were in alignment. Bor stopped Malekith from using the Aether just in time, hiding it somewhere out of sight and out of mind. The catch is that Bor told his people that he’d destroyed it, when in fact he’d known this to be impossible. Thus, the current generation believes themselves safe even as the next alignment draws near, causing little pockets that allow people and objects to move back and forth between the worlds. Jane Foster accidentally slips through one of these pockets to find herself on Svartalfheim, and unwittingly becoming host to the Aether.

The fish-out-of-water scenario is flipped on its head, as Thor takes Jane with him to Asgard. Thor is hoping to find some way of removing the Aether from Jane’s body and destroying it before it destroys her. Jane doesn’t have much time to marvel at her surroundings before the situation becomes dire, although we do. With the changing of directors from Kenneth Branagh to Alan Taylor, Asgard assumes a much different look from the brilliantly colored world of two years ago. Here, it looks much more medieval, like something out of “The Lord of the Rings” or “Game of Thrones” (the latter of which has seen Taylor direct several episodes). Also, Natalie Portman pulls off the Asgardian look quite nicely. Just sayin’.

As in both “Thor” and “The Avengers,” Chris Hemsworth’s greatest chemistry is with Tom Hiddleston. As the ever mischievous Loki, Hiddleston is to “Thor” what Norman Reedus is to TV’s “The Walking Dead.” He has achieved such a fan following that his is the one character everyone hopes will continue to stick around. I must remember to catch Hiddleston’s portrayal of “Henry V” the next time it comes around on PBS, because he’s just a brilliant actor.

With the knowledge that Marvel Studios is a movie-making machine with a set plan in motion (and with films soon to be released in 2014 and 2015), these stories can place Earth in danger with the assurance that it will never meet its end at the hands of the bad guys. Malekith, we know, will fare no better than the Chitauri from “The Avengers” did before him. What keeps the plot moving is not in how it will turn out, but in how we will get there and what must be sacrificed to make it so. There is darkness, there is despair, and there are lives lost along the way. Countering this, much of the humor that made the first film so much fun is still here, especially in the banter between Thor and Loki, as well as from Jane’s intern, Darcy (Kat Dennings), one of my favorite characters from either “Thor” movie. As always, one will want to stay through the end credits. There is both a mid-credits scene, acting as a set-up for a future film (I’ll not reveal which one), as well as a short post-credits scene.

For now, I still prefer the first “Thor,” but “Dark World” is a worthy sequel. I’ll have to see this one again to know exactly how I feel about it. Some critics have accused the film of getting lost in the back-and-forth between the different realms, but I get the feeling they don’t understand Thor at all. As a being from another world, he shouldn’t be confined to just having Earthbound adventures. “Thor: The Dark World” proves how much fun the Nine Realms can be, and I hope that any future solo films for the God of Thunder will give us even more of the realms we’ve seen, as well as the few that remain unseen.

  1. CMrok93 says:

    Well worth the watch, especially if you already like this universe, and the various characters that inhabit it. Even Thor, despite him not being anybody’s real favorite. Good review.

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