Thor: The Dark World Film Review
Warning: This review contains spoilers
Marvel Studios has delivered another awesome film with Thor: The Dark World, the sequel to the 2011 original and the eighth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This time, Thor must battle the Dark Elves led by Malekith the Accursed, who plans to use the Aether to destroy the universe and return it to total darkness so the Dark Elves can rule again. In order to stop them, Thor must forge an alliance with his evil brother Loki, imprisoned in the dungeons of Asgard after his attempt to take over Earth in the Avengers. What follows is an action packed and often humorous adventure to save the universe from total darkness.
The film begins with a prologue explaining the history of the Aethar and the Asgardians ancient war with the Dark Elves. Odin's father, Bor, defeated the Elves and sealed the Aethar to prevent it from being used again. In the present, Thor and his friends fight to restore order in the Nine Realms and help Hogun save his homeworld of Vanaheim from invaders. On Earth, Jane tries to adjust to life without Thor but gets shown a strange anomaly by her assistant, Darcy. She discovers portals in random places and gets pulled through one that leads right to the Aethar. It awakens and bonds with Jane's body, causing Thor to come to Earth and bring he to Asgard for treatment. The Dark Elves awaken along with the Aethar and launch an attack on Asgard. After they are defeated, Thor agrees to free Loki since he's the only one who knows how to get to the Dark Elf homeworld. Thor, Loki, and Jane escape Asgard and reach the Dark Elf homeworld and attempts to destroy the Aethar, but they fail, and Malekith binds with the Aethar after taking it from Jane's body. Thor and Loki battle Kurse, but Loki is seemingly killed before Thor defeats him. However, a very much alive Loki takes the shape of an Asgardian warrior and returns to Asgard. Thor and Jane return to Earth to stop Malekith from destroying the universe during the Convergance, where all Nine Realms align creating portals across each realm. As Thor battles Malekith, Jane tries to stop the Convergance with the help of Darcy and Erik Selvig. They succeed and the Dark Elves are defeated. Thor returns to Asgard and tells Odin that he is not ready to be king since he must focus his attention on defending the Nine Realms. As Thor leaves, Loki reveals that he was impersonating Odin and has usurped the throne once again.
The core strength of this film is the relationship between Thor and Loki. Thor has grown from a boy warrior to a much more humble and experienced man since his first appearance in the 2011 original. The experience of having lost his powers, fighting his own brother, and joining with a group of other extraordinary people to prevent his brother from causing more chaos have shown him what it means to be a true king and more importantly, a better man. His brother on other the hand, devolved into a homicidal maniac. He allowed his desire for acceptance to be poisoned into a desire to destroy and gain power over others. In this film, he is reduced to rotting in the dungeons of Asgard with only his mother, Frigga, keeping him company from time to time to remind him that he is still loved despite the terrible things that he'd done. He takes her death at the hands of the Dark Elves harder than anyone else and we get to see just how bad of a state he's in after losing what was most important to him, despite his attempts to make it look like he hates her as much as Thor and Odin. Tom Hiddleston is the scene-stealer of the film, just as he was in the original Thor and the Avengers, as he takes a chance at some small form of redemption, only to fall back on his mischievous ways and take power over Asgard once again at the end of the film. Chris Hemsworth does another great job as Thor and the best in him is brought out every time he shares the screen with his on-screen brother.
Natalie Portman and the other supporting players, including Kat Dennings, Anthony Hopkins, and Stellan Skarsgard do a good job in their reprisals of their respective roles. The ones who get the short end of the stick are Christopher Eccleston and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as the Dark Elves Malekith and Algrim. Their motivations are clearly stated, they're not really on the screen that much, and they're both one note villains that aren't that interesting. What we get is that they're evil, they need to die, and that's it. However, their lack of a presence doesn't hurt the movie much at all because they deliver good performances and the action they're apart of highlight how dangerous of a threat they are. It just would've been nice to see more of them. They probably would never have exceeded the great villainous heights of Loki, but they could've had a bigger impact on screen.
The action is on par with what we've seen from the Marvel films so far. It's not as big as the action from the Avengers, but it doesn't have to be, and it shouldn't. The action of the Avenger movies need to be bigger than the standalone films in order to justify the need to have a group of superheroes band together. If there are big super battles in every movie, then it kind of cheapens the impact of the Avengers. Thor's battle with Malekith is the standout action sequence of the movie, especially with the two of them crunching each other though different portals, giving them a chance to battle across the Nine Realms as they converge.
I look forward to the future of Thor with his next appearance being in the Avengers sequel. With the strong numbers coming in for this sequel, it is inevitable that we'll get a third standalone Thor film which will be part of Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With Loki having control of Asgard at the end of Dark World, the future, and likely final, conflict between the sons of Odin promises to be something epic and awesome. Thor: The Dark World is another fine installment in the franchise and the future is as bright as ever for Marvel at the movies.