Kenneth Branagh’s Thor, released in 2011, is a story of epic characters, literally gods, but it was hampered by the time spent down on earth. Alan Taylor’s sequel, Thor: The Dark World, skillfully integrates the mortal cast into the plot while not losing the grand scale that made the original so enjoyable.
In this film, Thor must enlist the help of friends and enemies alike to defeat a foe that predates the universe. The Dark Elves, led by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston of Doctor Who fame), seek to return the universe to the darkness that ruled before creation. Led by Thor, the Asgardians must find a way to stop the Dark Elves, like Thor’s grandfather had to do.
The main cast consists of Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and Natalie Portman, and they are outstanding.
Hemsworth tones down the absolute arrogance that his character struggled with in the original, but he still holds himself as a god would.
Portman makes an interesting decision, playing her smart-but-cute scientist role like she plays in romantic comedies. Her attitude brings a lightness to this film that provides many laughs, especially when paired with her research assistant, played by Kat Dennings.
There are quite a few scenes that play just like a romantic comedy, and they actually fit the movie quite well. However, the true scene-stealer is Hiddleston’s Loki.
This is the third Marvel film to feature Loki, as he was also the primary villain in Marvel’s The Avengers. His slick arrogance and trickery once again provide a fabulous foil to Hemsworth’s strength and brawn. He isn’t the villain in this movie, but he gets plenty of screen time. His performance is fascinating, as he keeps hinting to what lurks under his mask of bravado, but it’s never quite clear if it’s all just a trick.
The subtlety is much appreciated. It’s nice that he’s not the villain, as that would be overkill, but it would be a shame to remove him from the franchise. However, some new antagonists are desperately needed to prevent the Marvel films from becoming the Loki show.
This film has an interesting role reversal between the humans and gods. The humans gain power and authority, through science, discovery and courage, while the gods in Asgard are brought to their knees.
Personality flaws, miscommunication and struggle are what bring quality to superhero films, just like the myths of ancient gods. Marvel’s Thor may exist in the same world as Iron Man and Captain America, but at the heart of this story are the heroes of the Norse people. This movie charades as a cheesy blockbuster, but it is a story of war, love, humiliation, redemption and brotherhood.
Runtime is 120 minutes. Stay all the way through the credits for a special scene.