a critiQal film review Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Plot: In ancient times, the gods of Asgard fought and won a war against an evil race known as the Dark Elves. The survivors were neutralized, and their ultimate weapon - the Aether - was buried in a secret location. Hundreds of years later, Jane Foster (Portman) finds the Aether and becomes its host, forcing Thor (Hemsworth) to bring her to Asgard before Dark Elf Malekith (Eccleston) captures her and uses the weapon to destroy the Nine Realms - including Earth.

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A few weeks ago, I set out with a goal: catch up on my reviews of films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe before Avengers: Infinity War (2018) came out. Unfortunately, I got sidetracked, and that didn’t happen. Now, with Black Panther (2018) coming out soon on DVD, I’m playing a bit more catch-up, for you, the reader…but also for myself (I still haven’t seen Thor: Ragnarok (2017) yet, because I haven’t caught up yet).

So, the next film up is Thor: The Dark World. We were excited to see if the cast of characters from THOR would be just as fun a second time around. Or, would director Kenneth Branagh be the missing piece in Thor: The Dark World? Would Alan Taylor be able to fill those directing shoes, or would he (and the storyline) be a little lacking this second time around?

Chris Hemsworth returns as Thor in Thor: The Dark World. After his great intro in Thor (2011), and his stint in The Avengers (2012), he has become quite comfortable with the role. Even more so than the first film, he has defined who the on-screen Thor is, and it’s fun to see him act the part once again.

Natalie Portman returns as Jane Foster. Unlike her crappy romantic interludes that consumed so much screen time in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005), she is actually a good fit with Chris Hemsworth. As their relationship develops, viewers can breathe a sigh of relief. After all, it wasn’t Natalie that ruined the prequels – it was that guy, Hayden Christensen. Whew!

Tom Hiddleston is back (again) as Loki in Thor: The Dark World, and honestly, he’s getting a bit old. After all, he’s in almost every MCU film. Still, the odd team-up he does with his brother Thor in this film makes for a fresh new twist, and it is still fun to see Tom Hiddleston just as enthusiastic about his role as ever.

The supporting cast is back as well, with Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgard providing various funny sequences on Earth (although not nearly as many as in Thor (2011)). Meanwhile, on Asgard, Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo once again shine as Odin and his wife, Frigga. The rest of the cast is also decent, although it’s hard to catch much of Christopher Eccleston’s performance under all that gear and makeup.

While the storyline in Thor (2011) seemed right on point, Thor: The Dark World is a bit more contrived. Obviously, there were certain points they needed to get to (Thor and Jane reunited! Another adventure on Earth! A final showdown in a recognizable place! Etc, etc) and they worked the storyline around those points. This makes for a few “oh come on” moments in the film, and the viewer will find themselves not quite as happy with the sequel.

Usually, the first film in a trilogy is hard to beat, and despite best efforts, most second films don’t even come close. While Thor: The Dark World isn’t quite as good as Thor (2011), it’s still a solidly good film, and it seems to fit in nicely with Marvel’s plan to introduce all of the Infinity Stones before Avengers: Infinity War (2018). If you enjoyed Thor (2011), you should have a good time watching Thor: The Dark World as well, despite some flaws.

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