Director: Alan Taylor
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard, and Idris Elba.
Running Time: 112 minutes
Rating: 3 Stars
As second installments go, this one is a solid effort, though the story is predictable and at times rather cheesy. Explosions, visuals, and emotion: it's all there and treated with the usual happenstance that we have come to expect from these type of superhero flicks – our generation's Westerns.
And just like in a good Western, the protagonist in Thor: The Dark World has to rely on assistance from a not-so-trusted ally who has to prove himself in an effort to defeat the forces of evil.
The film starts with the nine realms, ruled by Thor's father King Odin (Anthony Hopkins), coming closer to peace as Thor (Chris Hemsworth) travels around to ensure things stays that way.
Loki (Tom Hiddleston), his adopted half-brother who craves the throne and betrayed the family in the last film (as well as in last year's The Avengers film) has been sentenced to rot in a dungeon by Odin.
During this time, a dark power called the aether is released and finds a host body in Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Then, an ancient villain, Malakith – leader of the dark elves – is awakened along with his army and attempts to find the aether in order to use it to bring eternal darkness to the universe.
Thor and Loki eventually have to team up to defeat Malakith (Chrisopher Eccleston) and also save Foster's life.
The story of Loki is by far the most interesting aspect of this movie. His evolution between the last few films, including in The Avengers, is paramount as he has become as important to the franchise (and by extension the Marvel universe) as Thor himself. The half-brothers complicated relationship buoys this film, though audiences can see the ending coming from a mile away.
Still, the humour and tragedy really starts to coalesce into something very entertaining towards the final third of Thor: The Dark World. In fact, the last half hour saves the film from being just another forgettable popcorn flick into a solid sequel that has you looking forward to the next one.
Well aware of the depth of the comic book source material, Marvel have done a great job so far of creating a cohesive universe out of their characters, while still leaving enough room for each overlapping franchise (Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Avengers) to follow its own course.
Ultimately, Thor: The Dark World is a good example of a franchise taking the next logical step. It will be interesting to see where it goes from here though, since the “stop the ancient weapon that has unlimited powers” shtick is starting to feel a little tired.