Friday, November 8, 2013


THOR: THE DARK WORLD, the first sequel to the God of Thunder’s own franchise, is a film which has a lot in common with its predecessor. Both films serve several purposes; to tell Thor’s story, to expand the ever-growing Marvel Movie Universe, and to serve as a small piece in the slowly building overall story of superheroes and supervillians. The difference between the two is that the sequel seeks to strike a better balance of small and large-scale storytelling. Enter THE DARK WORLD.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) re-unites with his true love Jane (Natalie Portman) and his estranged brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to combat the dark Elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston)…who seeks to unleash a terrible power which was taken from him by Odin’s (Sir Anthony Hopkins) father thousands of years before.

THE DARK WORLD is a film with a lot going on. Director Alan Taylor (TV’s GAME OF THRONES) really shows his TV background as he spends a lot of time weaving many storylines around the backdrop of a potential universe-shattering threat. THE DARK WORLD is a story about sons and fathers and their fathers before them; a story about family and betrayal with a few love triangles and several battles which are the culmination of every large-scale science-fiction and fantasy film ever made. It seems like a lot, and it is, but this where Taylor’s TV chops come through. It works because every scene is very well written and constructed. Each character in the fairly large cast gets his or her moment and gets just enough of development. As the story evolves and the universe the characters inhabit keeps getting bigger (literally), Thor himself gets a little lost in it all and he loses a lot of his own arc, but it’s a minor gripe as the film is just too enjoyable. On top of it all, THE DARK WORLD is loaded with many twists and turns; perhaps the most unpredictable superhero film ever made.  
The film seems to be specially tailored for those who have been along for the Marvel ride since 2008; it literally is built upon the foundation laid down by the many films before it. Actions from characters in previous Marvel adventures play heavily in THE DARK WORLD, but they are never a distraction and serve a purpose in motivating and developing characters. Hoever, the main villain is very underdeveloped and is more of a plot point than a character.

Alan Taylor has put together a fine looking film, with brisk pacing and eye-popping battle and action scenes. CGI is obvious and at times a little cartoony, but for every bad render there are 20 or so better ones. Humor is aplenty and well-timed, including a gut-busting cameo which will bring down any theatre house.
There may not be two actors who enjoy playing their characters more than Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. Both seem to have a blast in their roles, and together have perfect chemistry; the banter between them by way of bickering and fighting is tremendous and always lights up the screen. Natalie Portman, despite her beauty, still seems out of place in all the goings on, but her acting never suffers and her character actually has things to do this time. Christopher Eccleston is wasted by way of a weak villain, and his acting is buried underneath too much makeup. The rest of the large cast is excellent; Sir Anthony Hopkins, Rene Russo, Idris Elba, Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgard…whose character is still suffering from his experiences with Loki. Thor’s best buddy-warrior pals are all in their prime form, played beautifully by Jaimie Alexander, Ray Stevenson, and Tadanobu Asano.

There are two post-credit scenes; one of which draws the curtain back on an even larger universe and is a peek into just how insanely huge of a plan Marvel still has in store for us. THE DARK WORLD finishes on a spectacular note, opening up a great many things to come while sending the theatre home with a galaxy-sized grin. This is the movie the God of Thunder deserves.

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