Friday, December 6, 2013

Thor: The Dark World Movie Review

Before Thor hit theaters in 2011, I really wasn't familiar with that particular line of Marvel Comics. But after seeing the hero in action in Thor and The Avengers I've really come to like the titular character and his adoptive brother. When Thor: The Dark World (2013) was announced I was chomping at the bit to see these characters in action again.
Eons ago a race of beings known as Dark Elves tried to send the universe into darkness by useing a weapon known as the Aether. Warriors from Asgard stopped them but their leader Malekith (The Doctor Christopher Eccleston) escapes to wait for another opportunity. The Asgard Warriors find the Aether and since it cannot be destroyed, they hide it. In present day, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) awaits the return of Thor although it has been two years since they last saw one another. In the meantime, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) stands imprisoned for his war crimes on Earth while Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has been trying to bring peace to the nine realms following the reconstruction of the Bifröst, the "Rainbow Bridge" between realms, which was destroyed two years earlier. Jane discovers an anomaly similar to the one that brought Thor to Earth. She goes to investigate, and becomes infected by the lost Aether. Learning of Jane's sudden disappearance, Thor goes to Earth to retrieve her and takes her to Asgard to try and remove the Aether. Malekith, upon sensing the Aether's location attacks Asgard. In a desperate attempt to stop Malekith, Thor is forced to seek help from the treacherous Loki.
While I did enjoy the first Thor movie, I think this is more of what fans were originally hoping for. Thor travels to more of the Nine Realms, we get to see more of Asgard, the characters are a bit more developed, there's bigger action. I really appreciate how events from Thor and The Avengers are acknowledged and were used as plot devices. The Bifröst is kind of a teleportation device that was destroyed at the end of Thor and without it, the Asgardians couldn't travel the Nine Realms to keep the peace. Also Loki tried to take over the Earth in The Avengers and is being imprisoned for it. Because details like these were included, it makes the world setting a bit more believable.
Most everyone reprises their previous role, including Idris Elba as Heimdall, Kat Dennings as Darcy, Stellan Skarsgård as Dr. Erik Selvig, Rene Russo as Frigga Thor's mother, and the legendary Anthony Hopkins as Odin. All do a great job, and their characters are more fleshed out. For example, Dr. Selvig had his brain taken over by Loki in The Avengers which has caused some psychological problems that are both useful and a hinderance. Darcy is now more than comic relief, and plays a more active part in helping saving the world. Tom Hiddleston is simply amazing. His role as Loki did for the Marvel Comics movies what Heath Ledger did for the The Dark Knight as The Joker; they added a hugely successful character that everyone both loves and hates and made the movies all the better for it. What was really interesting is Loki's relationship with his adoptive mother Frigga. Loki is at a very low point and his mother is the only one to offer him compassion; while he tries to act strong and tough, Loki needs his mom. I love Christopher Eccleston; he was a great bad guy in 28 Days Later, and he makes a great, if shallow, megalomaniacal villain out for revenge here.
I was a bit disappointed in Natalie Portman's role. While Jane is certainly longing for Thor, they don't really do a whole lot together; even in scenes where both characters are present. It's a bit sad that the love/hate sibling relationship between Thor and Loki outshines the romantic love interest between the hero and the damsel in distress.
I love this mash up of sci-fi and fantasy. There are holes in space, spaceships, and other sci-fi gadgetry alongside swords, magical items, and spell casting. It's high end sci-fi/fantasy stuff  that is pretty fun to watch. Parts of it feels a bit rushed and undeveloped. I didn't understand why physics didn't apply on part of earth when the worlds were aligning, and why Earth machinery used to detect spatial anomalies was suddenly able to create them. But who cares? It's a sci-fi/fantasy/superhero movie! While the "what" of the story should make some sense in the big picture, some "why" questions don't require detailed answers to still make a fun movie. That results in a story that is mostly just fun to watch and doesn't require a great deal of mental energy to enjoy.
The fight scene at the end was really exciting, but what was also neat was that while these god-like beings fought one another, the humans helped the hero save the day and keep other people safe. They did this in Man of Steel, too. The humans are being heroes every bit as much as the super-powered being from another planet; not just standing idly by and hoping everything turns out okay. They even help Thor get an edge in the fight. I love how everyone gets to help save the day.
Thor: The Dark World was fun, but wasn't a great movie. The action is good, the acting is mostly good, the special effects are great, the story isn't all that original, but the characters are really good; Thor and Loki in particular are interesting with the trust issues and sibling rivalry dynamic. It's better than the first Thor movie and it embraces it's fantasy roots with some exciting and entertaining results. Thor: The Dark World is worth seeing, but probably after it hits home video. Of course if you are collecting the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, you'll want to buy this on Blu-Ray. And of course, stick around for the post-credits scene.

Which of the villains in these Marvel/Avengers movies have you liked the best? I think I have to go with Loki. Comment below and tell me your favorite!

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