Ever since 2008’s Iron Man, Marvel has raised the bar on the superhero film industry by creating a universe as extensive as a television series. Knowing this, don’t think you can just waltz into this film as an unfamiliar. Seeing both Thor and Avengers prior to this film is essential, because it picks up right where they left off. Now, let’s review Thor: The Dark World.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has returned to his medieval-like home in Asgard where he protects all of the parallel worlds from monsters and such alongside his friends Sif (Jaime Alexander) and the Warriors Three. Still, he longs to return to Earth and be with his mortal physicist girlfriend, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Loki, meanwhile, is tucked away in an Asgardian prison where he spends his time hating everyone except his adopted mother Frigga (Renee Russo). Throw in some evil elves who want to find some energy weapon to destroy the universe, blah, blah, blah… and we have our movie.
I’m being vague on the villain and plot because they really don’t matter. This movie isn’t about story. It’s about action sequences, explosions, and characters. And it’s driven by the relationship between Thor and his step-brother Loki. Hiddleston’s performance as the God of mischief is once again what drives the movie. He is sinister, snarky, but also more vulnerable than ever before. The film didn’t fully gain its weight until their inevitable team-up.
The rest of the cast is sufficient. Natalie Portman returns to give her best scientist with a school-girl crush routine. Kat Dennings once again prattles alongside her as the film’s comic relief. Jamie Alexander plays a great Wonder Woman… I mean Sif, even if the subtle love triangle between her, Thor, and Jane falls flat. Idris Elba does the bad-ass bodyguard well as Heimdall. And Anthony Hopkins is more pig-headed than ever as Odin, father of Thor. Surprisingly, the standout supporting performance goes to Renee Russo as Frigga. She exudes the strength and love that any Queen is supposed to carry and even gets to show off her own fighting skills.
Overall… will we remember Thor: The Dark World amongst the great superhero movies? Probably Not. But it is as good or better than the first installment and carries much more emotional weight. So we will watch it, perhaps multiple times, if only to stay caught up and prepared for Avengers 2. And that’s the beauty of what Marvel has created in their intertwining film universe. Each piece is essential to the puzzle regardless of how good or bad the actual film is.
FINAL GRADE: B
Sidenote: As always, there is extra stuff during and at the end of the credits. And if you can afford it, see the film in 3D. It contains a special preview of Captain America: The Winter Soldier