Thor: The Dark World
He’ll Bring the Thunder

Thor: The Dark World is a continuation of not one but two franchises.  Mainly, it is the second film in the Thor franchise, but it is also the seventh chapter in what you might call the Marvel franchise.  Like Iron Man 3, The Dark World limits the tie-in to The Avengers to a mention here and a cameo there, keeping the focus on its title character and what is going on in his universe.

What is going on in Thor’s world is that an ancient and not-very-clearly-explained weapon that was hidden ages ago has recently been uncovered.  Coincidentally, this weapon called the Aether is discovered by none other than Jane Foster, the American woman Thor left behind on Earth at the end of the first film.  Once discovered, the Aether calls out to Malekith, the leader of the Dark Elves who wants to use it to blanket the nine realms in darkness.

Chris Hemsworth as Thor in Thor: The Dark WorldShortly after Jane’s discovery, Thor becomes alerted that she may be in trouble and beams down to Earth, picks up his love, and brings her back to Asgard.  Unfortunately, in tune with the Aether, Malekith follows them there and nearly destroys Thor’s homeland in an effort to recover his weapon.  Despite his father’s objections, Thor believes that the only way to keep the nine realms from being covered in darkness is to take the fight straight to Malekith.  He knows he won’t be able to succeed alone, however, and against his better wishes he takes along his brother, Loki, who has been imprisoned since his antics in The Avengers nearly destroyed the human race.

As an entry in the Marvel cinematic universe, Thor: The Dark World is a worthy chapter, if not groundbreaking.  The production values are everything that you have come to expect from a Marvel movie: the effects are great, the worlds are stunning, and the humor reminds us that, dark as it gets, this is still a comic book movie we are watching.

The movie’s humor is provided mostly by two returning secondary characters.  The first is Kat Dennings’ Darcy.  It has been a couple of years since the events of the first Thor movie, but Darcy hasn’t seemed to make much progress in her professional life.  She’s still working for Jane as an unpaid intern, only now she also has recruited an unpaid intern of her own.  Dennings is quick with the one-liners, many of which are most likely adlibbed on the spot.

The second is Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, who is quickly becoming a favorite character in Marvel’s universe.  He quips his way through the entire movie, before finally getting a chance to get in on some of the action later in the story.  As fun as Loki is, his illusion-casting ability gets used a little too much in this movie, generating many unanswerable “what exactly happened?” questions for the audience as they walk out the door.

Taking over the director’s chair from Kenneth Branagh, Alan Taylor stays true to the world and characters created in the first film, even while taking things a little darker.  The movie is paced crisply and there are no glaring flaws.

Perhaps the only problem with Thor: The Dark World besides a few plot holes is that it does not really break any new ground.  It’s entertaining, yes, and looks fantastic, but there are no scenes that really stand out.  The Aether at the center of the film proves to be nothing but a MacGuffin and it is never really explained why it would help Malekith to destroy (or cast in darkness) the nine realms.  As such, we never really fear it.

With its ability to transport us to other worlds and entertain us with some impressive action, visuals, and comedy, Thor: The Dark World proves to be a worthy chapter in the ever-growing Marvel cinematic universe.  It doesn’t seem to do much to move the overarching story forward, but if you stay for the credits you will be introduced to an intriguing new villain that could play a major role in The Avengers storyline.

Thor: The Dark World is rated PG-13 for “sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content.”  The intense action is on par with everything else in the Marvel universe and not too graphic, while the suggestive content is usually courtesy of a one-liner from Kat Dennings (and a near-naked Skellan Skarsgard). 

Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of Thor: The Dark World.