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Movie Review: 'Thor: The Dark World'

Thor: The Dark World

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston
Directed by Alan Taylor

Rated PG-13

Iron Man was the turning point in the Marvel universe.  Up to that point, it was a real up and down affair.  Some of it good (X-Men) some of it bad (X-Men: The Last Stand), some really bad (Fantastic Four) and some downright laughably bad (Daredevil).  But since Robert Downey Jr and Marvel made us all pay attention a little bit more and get us back to that old geek feeling we movie fans tend to thrive on, The Marvel universe has been pretty spot on.  But I’ll admit, when it was announced that Captain America and Thor were getting their own movies, I had some fear that Iron Man was going to be an anomaly.  But both comic book legends received their proper due and most of that credit goes to Marvel for taking control of their own universe and having a bigger plan.  That bigger plan is the most intriguing thing about the new Marvel movies, the way they’re tying everything together.  Thor not only continues that pipeline but is also a better film than Iron Man’s last outing.

Thor: The Dark World is also a more rounded film than its predecessor.  Not only doing a better job of utilizing Natalie Portman (which in the first film, she just felt like your standard issue love interest), But adds more depth to an already pretty well established Loki.  The Dark World also doesn’t let itself get bogged down with creating too much plot, something that tends to hamper so many comic book films (and something I already see happening with the new Batman vs. Superman film) instead relying on the old stand-by plot device of good vs. evil.  It works, but if the series is to continue on, which I don’t see why it won’t, they may want to start plotting now on how to keep the Thor universe from getting too stale.

The film, just like Iron Man 3, takes place after the events that took place in The AvengersLoki (Tom Hiddleston) is locked away for his crime, Thor is due to be the heir of the thrown and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is back on earth, waiting for Thor’s return.  But Asgard is soon visited by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) and the Dark Elves.  They want to retrieve the Aether, a device that, just like Tesseract, can help one become an all powerful force and destroy civilizations at will.  Jane, while seeking out a wormhole similar to the one that brought Thor to Earth, stumbles upon the Aether and it consumes her.  Thor (Chris Hemsworth) brings Jane to Asgard to protect her but Malekith, aware of Aether’s whereabouts, goes to Asgard to capture Jane.

The Dark World’s biggest success is comes in three forms.  1) The comedy that is laced throughout the movie. 2) Action sequences that are better executed than what we saw in Iron Man 3 or Man of Steel and 3) How it continues to build upon not only what Marvel has planned for its future films but also building upon the love/hate relationship between power hungry Loki and the reluctant Thor.   The action sequences never feel like they’re CGI heavy, despite absolutely being the contrary. The pacing with these sequences never show signs of being rushed either. They don’t cram too much into one scene and instead take their time to get what they do have right.  It’s a big tip of the cap when something like this happens, you aren’t left walking out of the theatre trying to figure what exactly happened (and something the really took away from both Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel).   The dynamic that has been set up not only between Loki and Thor but also trying to figure out where plot points that point to the future are really going. I would love to be able to be a fly on the wall at Marvel, watching them plot everything out. 

But with success, comes opportunity.  The Marvel films, while being fun to watch, never really build any suspense or give you moments that break away from the traditional bad guy vs. good guy plot lines (Avengers, to its credit, tried some new things).  I would love to see that in future films.  Give a curve ball or two.  And who knows, maybe that’s in the phase 2 and 3 plans.  If not, now is the time to do it before we start turning on these films.  But for now, Thor: The Dark World is solid and dare I say, the best comic book movie of the year.

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