Thor: The Dark World Nov08

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Thor: The Dark World

I didn’t know what to expect from Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World.

 

thordw2I’m not typically a fan of 3D movies. The glasses never fit and it usually ends up being more of a distraction than a bonus. I’ve also grown a bit skeptical of comic book movies. Sure there have been the Dark Knights but those are few and far between. Add to that the fact that this is a sequel and I didn’t have high hopes. But I have to say Thor: The Dark World stands on its own as a top-notch action film.

Equal parts super hero and science fiction, the story continues the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save the universe from a mysterious enemy that predates the existence of Earth and the other Nine Realms.  The story picks up in the aftermath of Marvel’s “Thor” and “Marvel’s The Avengers,” as Thor is tying up loose ends in restoring order across the cosmos. But unknown to Thor, there is an evil race of Dark Elves who are determined to disrupt it. These Dark Elves and their leader, Maliketh, have been dormant for centuries as they wait to regain access to a diabolical weapon called the Aether that is powerful enough to plunge all Nine Realms into permanent darkness.

The fast moving story has plenty of action and quite a few truly funny moments. The movie doesn’t take itself too seriously or too lightly, as there is just enough humor to remind you that it’s a comic book film. However, it does take its special effects and action very seriously and it delivers. It looks and sounds spectacular. There is everything from sword and shield battles to laser blasters and spaceship dogfights. The scenes are diverse and rich with colors and textures. The battles transport you through multiple dimensions and environments without losing or confusing you.

Chris Hemsworth, whose pecs and abs are even more ridiculous in 3D, is solid in his third stint as Thor. Natalie Portman brings depth to her portrayal of Jane Foster, who is not the typical damsel in distress. In the interest of expanding the film beyond the typical testosterone fueled action, the plot of the movie centers on her and also includes other strong female characters. This can be risky in the super hero genre because it can seem forced, but not so here. Kat Dennings is fun and funny as Jane’s sidekick Darcy. Rene Russo is heroic as Thor’s mother Frigga and the film leaves the comic book geek in all of us wanting more of Sif, played by Jaimie Alexander.

thordw3Anthony Hopkins is majestic as Odin with a full, silver, lion-like main. Along with Portman and Russo, he brings both legitimacy and presence to the film. But it is Tom Hiddleston as Loki, who steals the show. Loki is as dark and slippery as he is warm and funny in The Dark World. The story gives him ample opportunity to play both good and evil and he does so like a seasoned pro. Hiddleston is well on his way to perfecting what will surely become an all-time classic super villain in the Marvel Movie Universe.

Thor: The Dark World is not a perfect movie. There is a lack of depth to the Dark Elf leader, Maliketh. He is the main villain and, well, that’s about it. There is some background on the race of Dark Elves but not much. They are certainly evil enough to shoulder the load of villainy needed to challenge Thor. But other than the typical “destroy the universe” objective, Malekith is shallow compared to most comic book evildoers. There are a few points where it seems we might get a Wrath of Khan type villain but we don’t. It’s a missed opportunity but it doesn’t, by any means, ruin the experience. In the end, what’s not to hate about a guy who wants to destroy the universe, even if you don’t know why?

Thor: The Dark World is rated PG-13 for violence. There’s enough intensity and action to get a sitter and leave the little ones at home but this will be a big hit with the teenage crowd. This is definitely one to see in the theater and I can’t believe I’m saying it, see it in 3D if you can. It’s a really fun movie and after all, isn’t that what’s great about the movies? I give it 4.5 out of 5.