Thor: The Dark World builds well on all the Marvel movies that precede it
I enjoyed 2011's Thor. It wasn't the most compelling of the recent Marvel movies, and the story was actually extremely bare-bones, but there were some rather humorous moments and a few action sequences that I really liked. A little bland, but overall fine.
The followup takes that setup and gives us a considerably more involved and interesting storyline. Not overly-complex or confusing. Just involved.
The general upshot is that I like this second one a fair amount better. It's still not the strongest entry in the Marvel filmography, but it's rather solid and definitely enjoyable.
But first, the story
As the film opens, we're given an ancient flashback with voice-over narration by Odin (Anthony "Hannibal" Hopkins). It turns out that before there was light, the universe was dark and ruled by the Dark Elves. Thousands of years ago, the leader of the Dark Elves, Melekith (Christopher "The Doctor" Eccleston), attempted to use a powerful substance called the Aether to snuff out the light of the universe and return everything to darkness. He was stopped by Odin's father and the Aether was hidden where nobody would find it.
Which obviously means our heroes will accidentally stumble across it without even meaning to.
Cut to modern day.
Thor (Chris "George Kirk" Hemsworth) is out and about, fighting gorignaks, bringing unity to "the nine realms", and quietly pining for that woman he met in the desert that one time on the faraway planet of Tattooine. Or Albuquerque. I get them confused at times.
Meanwhile, Jane Foster (Natalie "Hold me like you did by the lake on Naboo" Portman) and her assistant, Darcy (Kat "Kat" Dennings), stumble across an odd phenomenon in London. Gravity seems to be broken, dropped bottles tend to vanish and reappear elsewhere, and intern Darcy somehow has her own intern.
There's no chance this might be somehow connected to that mysterious Aether, is there? Nah.
Dot dot dot
There's definitely more to tell about the story, but for our purposes that'll do for now.
As I said earlier, while I did enjoy the previous Thor movie, the story was just so basic. There's definitely much more nuance, action and plot this time around. And it's handled rather well.
There are a few issues, however.
Christopher "Lots of planets have a north" Eccleston's character is a little underdeveloped. Not that it's a large problem. The character development he gets is sufficient to the amount of screen time he's given. I think I'm just saying I wish he'd been used more. I like Eccleston and I think he was underused.
It can also be a little distracting to have to read subtitles for more than half of his lines. The Dark Elves appear to have their own secret language and whenever it's just them, they speak in their secret club tongue just in case there are any vile Asgardians or icky stinky girls eavesdropping.
It makes sense to have them speak Dark Elvish (isn't that the language of Mordor?) among themselves. It shows that the filmmakers put thought into the reality of the world. But it can be distracting if you're not used to it.
But as far as villains and antagonists go, it's hard to beat Loki. I envy Tim Hiddleston. He's been given a character that is almost by definition unpredictable. Just when you begin to think you understand why he does what he does, he throws you a curve and keeps you guessing. He's a very intriguing and fascinating character.
The difficulty is that, what with all the surprise reveals and 180's we're given, it can begin to get old and tiring. I don't think I myself got particularly sick of it, but I can see how it might begin to rub certain people the wrong way. So just be aware of that.
Other than that, the action is handled well, and there are some pretty funny lines. It could do with a little bit more humor in some sections, but what they have works for me.
Thor: The Dark World - trailer
One of the things that the filmmakers did very well is build upon what had happened in previous movies. There's reference to "the battle of New York". There's a plot line involving Erik Selvig (Stellan "Bootstrap Bill" Skarsgård) apparently going crazy due to what happened to him in The Avengers. There's even a quick cameo appearance of one shield-wielding red-white-and-blue-boy. None of these references would ruin the movie if you haven't been following the story up to now, but if you have, they help to make the world feel real and detailed. It's a subtle touch, but an effective one.
Overall, it's a solid movie. Not as strong as, say, the Iron Man movies, but a great showing for the God of Thunder.
But what do you think of the movie?
For me, this one gets a strong 7 / 10, almost an 8.
Thor: The Dark World is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, a few sections of somewhat suggestive content, and a bit of language.