Movie Review: Thor: The Dark World

Following the 2011 film Thor, that launched the mighty god of thunder into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, comes Thor: The Dark World, the next installment in the thunder god series. From director Alan Taylor, director of episodes of Game of Thrones and Mad Men, comes a more elaborate, worldly, and darker superhero film of magic, mythical gods, and menacing elves.

On their home world of Svartalfheim, the dark elves, lead by Malekith the Accursed, battle against Asgardian forces to protect the weapon known as the Aether. After being defeated, a number of elves manage to escape, losing the Aether to the Asgardians. In present day Asgard, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has been imprisoned for his crimes of terrorism in New York and must face trial to his adopted father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Meanwhile, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), with the help of his trio of warriors, repel marauders on Vanaheim, working to maintain the Nine Realms after the reconstruction of the Bifröst, the "Rainbow Bridge" between realms. In London, astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), along with her intern, Darcy, travel to an abandoned factory, where Jane uncovers the hidden Aether and becomes infected with its dark power. When Thor discovers of her presence, he travels down to Earth to bring her to Asgard for safety. Later, the dark elves infiltrate Asgard in search of Jane and the Aether, killing thousands and dismantling Asgard's forces quickly. Thor, fearing that Jane will die if the Aether is not separated from her, goes to his devious brother Loki for help in finding Malekith and his army. Together, with the help of the mentally traumatized Dr. Erik Selvig and his technology, Thor, Loki, and Jane must prevent the dark elves from disrupting the ultimate order of the Nine Realms and bringing darkness upon the many worlds.

Once again, Thor strikes and ignites the audience with his thundering hammer and handsomely good looks (for the female crowd) to bring this new film to the top of the box office and the top of our expectations of this god on screen. In 2011's Thor, the god was introduced well, and the story was good enough to keep us interested, with the banishment of an arrogant son and the beginning of a all-but-cute love story between human scientist Jane Foster and mighty god of thunder Thor. However, the film didn't really live up to the expectations of a good kick-starter for the god into the MCU. This new installment did a good job of elaborating more on the character himself, bringing in the things that conflict him and even the things he does when he's not saving the Nine Realms from elves and such. Also, the film did a decent job at showing the audience more of the god's home world of Asgard, bringing us from the ground where celebratory feasts are eaten to the elegant dungeons where devilish beings (and Loki) dwell. We also got to see the dark elves' home world of Svartalfheim, where the skies are dark and gloomy and the ruins of ancient battles can be seen for miles.

The cast of the film was as good as the first film, with humans Jane Foster and Dr. Eric Selvig to Asgardians Thor and Loki and The Warriors Three returning to the action. However, in this film, the new characters bring a new light (or darkness, in this case) to the film with the depth and intensity of their specific actions. The newest villain, dark elf Malekith, played by Christopher Eccleston aka the ninth Doctor Who, is an interesting character in the film with his conflicted past and divine motivation toward the vengeance of Asgard. Not knowing much about the character from the comics, I went into the film blind (like most fans) expecting a menacing villain with a cool look and an awesome tale to tell in the film. And that's exactly what he was. Another character I loved in the film was the devilish Loki, who appeared in both Thor as the not-so-evil adopted brother of Thor, and The Avengers as the main villain who was mad with power and revenge. Now, he is imprisoned for his crimes in New York, but still as clever and tricky as he always was. He joins forces with Thor in a last attempt to save Jane, and the dynamic between the brothers escalates from there. By the end of the film, you'll either hate Loki or love him even more because of his menacing actions and ultimate betrayal to his entire family and kingdom (which aren't really his at all). Another interesting villain in the film is Malekith's second-in-command Algrim, who begins as a decent secondary character that might have not been needed, but later is transformed into the horned beast Kurse, who is ordered to kill Thor. While the character did look menacing and all, and was another obvious nod to the comics, he didn't have much of an influence to the story or to the ultimate climax of the film. The returning characters, like Jane Foster, Dr. Eric Selvig, and the all-seeing Heimdall, brought a needed familiarity to the film that helped tell the story better. Jane Foster, the love interest to Thor, who may be essential to the story, didn't change much for the relationship between the two, and most likely brought rolling eyes from the fan boys who just came for the badass action and dark elves. Eric Selvig, who suddenly became a crazed mess after the events of The Avengers, was more of a comic relief for the film and was only needed for the climatic film's end, and also the intro to the much-needed Stan Lee cameo. The all-seeing sentry of Asgard, Heimdall, played by the possible future Green Lantern or Black Panther Idris Elba, was more elaborated in this film and had a more focused purpose as a friend to Thor and an all-seeing protector. We even got to see him without his mighty helmet, like Thor, who never has his comic book helmet on. As the old characters still shined in the film, the new characters (excluding Darcy's new intern, who wasn't needed for many reasons) were pretty good to the story and brought a new feel to the franchise that will positively affect the future of the god in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.   

Overall, I thought Thor: The Dark World was a decent sequel to a decent kick-starter film for the mighty character. Although he might have shined more in The Avengers, the god of thunder managed to make a good sequel to further extend his fame as an enjoyable character in the MCU. Thor is one of many famous characters in Marvel Comics, so it was likely that he wouldn't let his fans down with the new film. The film defiantly ruled over the first film, with its more elaborate characters, its awesome dark villain, and of course, more Loki. While the film did have its negatives, like some obvious clichés and some rather corny jokes (You'll just have to see them yourself), the film dominated this year for superhero films (Sorry, Iron Man). But for the god himself, he definitely got his macho back (excusing the love relationship aspect) and shot high into the ranks of amazing superhero films of the year, right with June's Man of Steel. 

I gave this film a 8 out of 10 because it had an interesting cast, a barrage of thundering action and warp teleportation, and amazing visuals of distant realms of dark elves and other mythical beings. Also, with the return of the devious Loki, the film boosted in fame with most fans in the theater for him, not for Thor as much. Even with all the film's minor negatives, it was still far better than the first film and will help the character move further into the ever-growing Marvel Cinematic Universe, which already has a number of decent films lined up for next year and beyond.  

Speaking of Marvel films, what film are you most excited for next in the MCU's line-up? The S.H.I.E.L.D-heavy sequel for Captain America? The much-anticipated Avengers sequel? Or one of their newest projects still much under raps, like Guardians of the Galaxy or Ant-Man?


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