Thor The Dark World Review
In the Beginning, There Was Darkness
Marvel Studios has now established several viable cash cow franchises with their Avengers characters. With Phase 2 now well under way, the second film of the Thor series has arrived. Thor: The Dark World is the continuation of the more outlandish of the Avengers. Thor returns, not alone, but flanked by all the great supporting characters Asgard has to offer. With a new villain, centuries old, Thor will face his toughest challenge.
Thor: The Dark World begins in exciting fashion. With great exposition from Odin (Anthony Hopkins) detailing the history of Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) and his dark elves as they try to destroy the universe. With Malekith defeated and the secret to his power, the Aether, locked away, peace is restored. From this point on, we launch into the present day with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) doing battle to restore peace to the nine Realms.
This opening battle sequence is outstanding. We get to see Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and the Warriors Three in all their glory. We didn't get to see them in the thick of heated battle in the first film, but now they get to shine as they wage war. Fandral (Zachary Levi) and Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) have expanded roles on Asgard this time around. Both get to flex their comedic timing as well as play integral parts in Thor's master plan. Lady Sif is given more character development and her true feelings for Thor seem take more precedent. Quickly, the Aether is discovered as a new convergence on Earth and the Realms is beginning. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is the one to discover it. Soon, Thor brings her to Asgard for her protection.
Things never quite go as planned for our heroes, and Malekith reawakens, feeling the Aether discovered. He leads his Dark Elves into Asgard and attack the house of Odin. Malekith's second in command, Kurse releases the prisoners from the dungeons and soon Asgard has it's defenses crumbled. While Jane is protected, Thor suffers a greater loss. He quickly devises a plan against his father's wishes to defeat Malekith, unfortunately it involves the help of the one person he knows he cannot trust.
Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is brought into the fold to help Thor escape Asgard and get Jane to Malekith. Thor and Loki have an on-screen chemistry that has only grown in the three films they've been together. Loki gets Thor and Jane to Malekith, but in true Master of Mischief fashion, Loki has his on motives; or does he? It is a joy to watch Loki interact with the other characters of Asgard, he's enjoying himself almost too much being the trickster that he is.
Thor and Malekith have a climactic battle in the heart of London as the Realms align. Jane, with the help of Darcy (Kat Dennings) and Dr. Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) have a way to trap Malektih and defeat him. Thor and Malekith wage a battle the spans across the nine Realms and seamlessly weaves these worlds together. It's a beautiful battle to behold. The final moments of their showdown is grander than just about anything we've seen in any Marvel movie thus far.
And in true Marvel style, Thor: The Dark World gives us two post-credit sequences. One of which does an amazing job at setting up the upcoming, Guardians of the Galaxy film. While the second scene prepares us for Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Hiddleston Steals the Show
Thor: The Dark World is perhaps the best ensemble cast of any Marvel film to date. Hemsworth is great as Thor once again. He has grown into this character in his third performance as the mighty Asgardian. He has a presence on screen that makes you believe he is always in command of any room, or world, he is inhabiting.
Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo, as Frigga, are the calming presence we have come to expect. We get a little more form Odin as a father this time. It is refreshing to see his feelings for Thor come out and take an interest in Thor's love life. Rene Russo's interactions with Loki are of the heartbreaking variety. We get to feel the emotion between the two and perhaps the one person Loki truly has feelings for.
Jaimie Alexander, Zachary Levi, and Ray Stevenson all stand out in their performances. Levi steps into the role of Fandral and never misses a beat. Alexander has the beauty and brawn needed to be the most feared woman in Asgard. And Stevenson seems to be having a great time as Volstagg in both battle and treason.
Portman, Dennings, and Skarsgard all add quality human elements and humor. Skarsgard has several shining moments following his breakdown after The Avengers. Especially when reunited with Thor and the quick quips that follow.
Christopher Eccleston as Malekith may be the one area where more is desired. He does great as the ancient Dark Elf ruler, but he isn't quite given enough time to flesh out his character. His movements and stature add to his character, but we don't quite share enough time with him to really despise him, at least to the level we should for the actions he's taken.
But the biggest draw is Tom Hiddleston and his Loki. He excels in this character and you suffer with him as much as you laugh with him. You ache for him to be a good person and just as Thor does, you want to trust him. There is perhaps no better casting in the Marvel Universe than Hiddleston. He is loving every second of Loki and he steals every scene he is a part of. He makes you believe that Loki could carry a film of his own. It's a shame it may be three years until we get to see Hiddleston's Loki potentially return.
The Action is Bigger than Ever
The battle scenes are grander than the first Thor and more intense than The Avengers. The wars across the Realms we begin with already feel more emotional and powerful than anything we've seen. Director, Alan Taylor, does a great job and putting us into the thick of battle. You feel the swings of Thor's hammer. You are surrounded by the grace of Lady Sif as she dances across the battlefield.
Even when Loki does battle with several Dark Elves using just his dagger. The action is in your face and you feel each strike. The destruction done to London is on a massive scale. Perhaps it isn't as insane as New York in The Avengers, but for a one on one battle, Thor and Malekith give London quite the makeover.
The film also has the advantage of being the third time Thor and Loki have been presented to us. Because of this we don't need to spend a great deal of time fleshing out character development. We can jump right into this world and we know what's going on. Even with the relationship between Thor and Jane growing, we don't waste time with them falling in love. It's already established. It allows the pacing of the movie to be much faster. At two hours long, the movie never feels that long and it's over before you realize it.
The God of Thunder Booms
Thor: The Dark World is another great notch in Marvel Studios belt. It surpasses Iron Man 3 in both excitement and even humor. It continues Phase 2's push towards Avengers: Age of Ultron with great success. If this is any sign, then we are in for great things from Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The 3D is fun, but not necessary to get the most out of the film. However, regardless what format you see it on, you'll be swept away into the nine Realms and be carried by Thor's hammer into a battle you won't soon forget.