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Movie Review: Thor: The Dark World

November 8, 2013

The Dark World PosterThor: The Dark World – A Walt Disney Release

http://marvel.com/thor

Release Date: November 8th, 2013

Rated PG for violence

Running time: 112 minutes

Alan Taylor (dir.)

Christopher L. Yost (screenplay)

Christopher Markus (screenplay)

Stephen McFeely (screenplay)

Brian Tyler (music)

Chris Hemsworth as Thor

Natalie Portman as Jane Foster

Tom Hiddleston as Loki

Anthony Hopkins as Odin

Christopher Eccleston as Malekith

Jaimie Alexander as Sif

Zachary Levi as Fandral

Ray Stevenson as Volstagg

Idris Elba as Heimdall

Rene Russo as Frigga

Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis

Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig

Jonathan Howard as Ian Boothby

The Dark World

©Walt Disney Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in Thor: The Dark World.

Our reviews below:

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Thor: The Dark World Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

The ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe continues with Thor: The Dark World, an entertaining sequel that not only follows the events of the first film from 2011, but also last year’s superhero triumph The Avengers.  This is another superhero blockbuster that is a lot of fun to watch on the big screen.

Despite the disapproval of his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has spent his time on Asgard longing for Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) back on Earth, who has devoted her scientific research to searching for him.  But the realms are on the verge of alignment for the first time in several centuries, and the evil leader of the Dark Elves, Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) is trying to unleash a powerful force known as the Aether that will destroy the entire universe.  Thor has to rely on his mighty hammer and even the help of his trickster brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who has been jailed for the chaos that was unleashed in New York, to save Jane Foster and restore order to the nine realms.

The original Thor worked as a beautifully done origin story, a majestic and visually stunning film that had the clear handprints of director Kenneth Branagh.  A fun continuation of the story, The Dark World very much feels like the work of Alan Taylor, best known for directing multiple episodes of Game of Thrones.  He stages several battle sequences between the fantasy characters that are fun to watch unfold, although the 3D does serve to dim some of the action scenes and isn’t really worth the surcharge.  This all leads up to the best of the bunch which is the climax, an incredibly entertaining sequence that makes great use of the different realms and also has some perfectly timed moments of comic relief.

This is his third outing as the God of Thunder, and there is a real arc to the way that Chris Hemsworth plays the character.  Tom Hiddleston clearly relishes every scene as the sneaky Loki, and it’s great to see Natalie Portman again in her first big role since the first film.  The real scene stealing comes back on Earth.  Darcy (Kat Dennings) and the increasingly off kilter Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) are once again delightful additions to the cast, this time aided by a likeable intern named Ian (Jonathan Howard), and I would love to see more of these characters in the future.  Chris O’Dowd is also hilarious in a couple of brief scenes as a potential love interest.

Although not quite in the same league as the original or some of the other entries in the ongoing Marvel series, Thor: The Dark World is a well oiled piece of the impressively built franchise that ties these films together.  This is a solidly entertaining continuation of the series, that is carried by an excellent cast and provides another fun opportunity to spend time with this colourful cast of characters.

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Thor: The Dark World Review by Erin V.

***1/2 (out of 4)

Two years after Thor (Chris Hemsworth) first landed in New Mexico and met Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), and a year after he returned to retrieve his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) from wrecking havoc on New York, Thor: The Dark World is an entertaining continuation of the character’s story.

When the film opens, we are given a brief prologue showing an event thousands of years prior, in which the realms aligned – an event that happens only once every many millennia.  When they last did, we are told, a race of Dark Elves, led by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) attempted to use the ‘Aether,’ a dark force to banish light from all the worlds and destroy the universe as we know it.  Malekith was thought to be defeated, but rather he just bid his time until now as the realms are aligning again and he can have another chance.  Meanwhile, Thor and his fellow Asgardian warriors are fighting the last battles needed to finally bring peace back the nine realms – and he has almost proven himself worthy of the throne of Asgard to his father Odin, although he still longs for Jane Foster whom he left on Earth.  Jane too misses Thor, although when we first meet up with her, she is on an awkward date with a man on Earth, not knowing if Thor will ever return for her.  She is of course soon interrupted by Darcy (Kat Dennings) informing her of another gravitational anomaly similar to the one that first brought Thor to them, and Jane quickly cuts out to try to track down the signal.

What she finds there though, leads her to come in contact with the Aether and ties her suddenly into Malekith’s plans.  Sensing this, Thor almost immediately comes down to Earth and retrieves her to Asgard in an attempt to save her and stop Malekith.  Asgard is soon attacked though, and it is clear that Malekith is a formidable foe – one that Thor will have to pull out every stop to defeat, including getting help from his brother and traitor Loki (Tom Hiddleston).  Loki knows the secret portals between realms and his expected unexpected and unconventional tactics just may come in handy here.

By the time Loki comes into the picture, things really heat up.  Loki has been locked up in the dungeons of Asgard since New York, with nothing to do but pace and read all day. When Thor releases him, he makes it clear that he is still a prisoner (keeping him handcuffed a lot of the time) and at the first sign of betrayal he will be killed.  While Loki is not the villain this time around like in The Avengers, he can’t be trusted either.  But a common goal to defeat Malekith just may keep him from betrayal this time around.  The banter between Thor and Loki is perfect as always, and their arguments and the way they purposefully get under each other’s skin makes it clear that the two grew up most of their life as brothers.  They also, for all their bickering, work quite well together when they have a common cause.  Although reluctant to admit it, it is clear that Thor in many ways enjoys Loki’s company, if only he could trust him as he once did.  Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth play these roles to a tee for a third time around and it is a delight to watch.

Between Earth, Asgard, and the other realms (mainly Svardalfheim, home of the Dark Elves) the finale is exciting and fast-paced.  Some of the best scenes combine the main characters and let them simply be themselves as they are faced with all of this.  Jane, Darcy, and Erik (Stellan Skarsgård) on the science side of things working alongside Thor as he fights Malekith, works.  Meanwhile, the dialogue between everyone is fast, funny, and keeps in tone with their characters from the first time around.

The actors are all perfectly cast, and working with a good script.  The special effects, including the beauty of Asgard are once again spectacular, (although the 3D adds little and the film’s colours would probably be sharper without it).  The music, editing, cinematography, all feel on par with the previous outings of the last few years.  All in all, this makes for a very entertaining film.  An interesting note though, is while S.H.I.E.L.D is mentioned, they are never seen in this film.  In some ways I liked this.  Thor: The Dark World, for all its references back to The Avengers and Thor (both of which are worth seeing beforehand), feels surprisingly self-contained from the rest of the Marvel universe.  In some ways, out of all the Avengers, it’s Thor who is the most self-contained away from Earth and S.H.I.E.L.D so this makes sense.

As always, Marvel movies like to give a little something extra after the film.  But this time around, the mid-credits scene feels off from the tone of the rest of the film, in an attempt by the studio heads to try to tie into next year’s Guardians of the Galaxy.  But still stay for the end credits, if only for the final scene after the credits, which is directly Thor related and worth watching.  In some ways, I wish they’d played this clip first, and left the other until the very end, further distanced from the actual body of the film.

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Thor: The Dark World Review by Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

In the first Thor movie, we were introduced to UFO chaser Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) the powerful and hot-headed extraterrestrial man that was thought to be the god of thunder by the Norse, and his trickster brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston).  The Avengers continued Thor’s cocky heroism and Loki’s bad behaviour.

Now the Dark Elves, an ancient group of demonlike beings, are intent on bringing the Aether, or dark matter, into Earth’s dimension in order to destroy it.  Meanwhile, back on Earth, Jane Foster is missing her beloved Thor.  But when her mentor Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) is picked up by police for erratic behaviour, it’s obvious that strange things are going on.  When Jane and her assistant Darcy (Kat Dennings) notice weird intergalactic portals popping up in London, they investigate.  Jane ends up getting infected with the Aether, and Thor has to bring her to Asgard in order to save her.  Loki is in jail for his crimes in New York, but may be able to help Thor defeat the Dark Elves.

Thor: The Dark World is not as strong as the first Thor or The Avengers, but it’s still a lot of fun.  Asgard is as beautiful as ever, with its gleaming gold rainbow bridge.  The Dark World is the exact opposite, with constant storm clouds and drab colours.  The characters are just as fun as in the other films.  Thor is still lovable as the cocky hothead.  Loki is just as naughty, but also has a soft spot.  Jane Foster is intelligent, resourceful and serious, while Darcy is always the funny one in the ladies’ comedy team.  There is a lot of comic relief in this film, counteracting the amped up fighting, which is still within a PG-13 level.  One scene that got the whole theatre laughing involved one of Loki’s benign tricks.

Thor: The Dark World is a great action film with a classic good vs. evil theme.  It is emphasized at the beginning that the Asgardians are not actually gods.  The real God is pure love, and it is that love that ultimately defeats evil.  That is a message worth coming away with.

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Thor: The Dark World Review by Maureen

*** (out of 4)

It’s been two Earth years since astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) has laid eyes on her handsome hero, Thor (Chris Hemsworth).  He’s had a good excuse for not keeping in touch – the Earth needed saving and Asgard and the other realms needed Thor and his mighty hammer.  All that’s about the change since the nine realms are soon going to be in alignment and evil forces are set to take over.  And so begins Thor: The Dark World.

Back on Earth, it’s business as usual for Jane Foster.  When her eager and dry-humoured intern, Darcy (Kat Dennings) and Darcy’s new intern, Ian (Jonathan Howard) pick up some unusual gravitational readings, the trio find themselves in an abandoned part of London where giant trucks float mid-air and small objects disappear and reappear when dropped down an invisible hole.  It’s there that Jane comes in contact with a force called the Aether that causes her to emit volatile energy.

Meanwhile on Asgard, Thor learns of Jane’s situation from Asgard’s watchman, Heimdall (Idris Elba) and to the annoyance of King Odin (Anthony Hopkins) Thor returns to Earth to bring Jane back to Asgard where hopefully she can be saved.  When Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), the leader of the Dark Elves realizes Jane possess the Aether, a powerful weapon used by the Dark Elves to eliminate all light, he comes after her.

Thor’s battle against Malekith and the forces of the Aether results in Thor needing to form an uneasy allegiance with his evil adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who has been imprisoned on Asgard.  Back on Earth, Darcy and Ian turn to their former research leader, Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) whose antics have landed him in a psychiatric unit for observation, for help in doing their scientific part in bringing Jane home safely and saving Earth and the other realms.

Some of the funniest scenes in Thor: The Dark World come from the research team back on Earth.  Kat Dennings delivers her lines with a perfect dry wit, and Stellen Skarrgård is just plain funny.  Jonathan Howard is a nice addition as Ian.

The battle scenes both on Asgard and Earth are fairly intense with a considerable amount of hand to hand medieval style combat.  Depending on your comfort level with this sort of thing, you’ll either love it or think it over the top.  As in the first film, Asgard is a visually stunning world and the visuals of darkness taking over the realms, are really well done.  This is a spectacular film in terms of special effects and visual images.  There is a beautifully shot scene of a funeral flotilla on Asgard that I just loved.

Overall, Thor: The Dark World is solid entertainment with a good balance of humour and action.  The performances are all uniformly strong and it’s good to see all the characters again.  Fans of this world won’t want to miss Thor: The Dark World.  Make sure to stay right through the end credits for an interesting extra scene.

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Thor: The Dark World Review by Tony

*** (out of 4)

Thor: The Dark World is indeed a dark (especially in 3D) sequel to Thor, bringing back most of the cast of the previous film, with a new villain, Malekith (Christopher Eccleston). Odin’s father had killed off the race of Dark Elves who had tried to plunge the nine realms into darkness using a red swirling weapon called the Æther. As one of the sole survivors, Malekith is hiding in wait for the next conjunction of the realms that will link them all by worm holes, and if he can find the hidden Æther in time, he will finally be able to destroy them all at once. By an improbability that would put any space craft into warp speed, Jane (Natalie Portman) gets the Æther inside her, leading to a battle between the realms that will require Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to team up with his nemesis Loke (Tom Hiddleston) to save the universe.

Directed by Alan Taylor, Thor 2 lacks some of the charm and humour of the previous film directed by Kenneth Branagh, though there are some funny bits, particularly from Jane’s teammates Darcy (Kat Dennings) and Erik (Stellan Skarsgård). The overall production is impressive however, especially the final battle scene where brilliant editing shifts the action between the various realms, so both fans of the franchise and casual viewers will not be disappointed.

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Consensus: Although not quite as strong as the excellent first film, Thor: The Dark World is a solid sequel and another entertaining entry into the Marvel franchise, filled with fun action sequences and perfectly timed moments of comic relief.  ***1/4 (Out of 4)

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