Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 52 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Sequences of Intense Sci-Fi Action and Violence, and some Suggestive Content
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Written by: Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston & Ray Stevenson
Now that THE AVENGERS is over and done with, Marvel seems willing to step up their game and take some bold risks with their superheroes. IRON MAN 3 was miles better than Tony Stark’s previous films and THOR: THE DARK WORLD easily surpasses the original installment (which was an okay origin story). This is pretty much the definition of big dumb fun. With this in mind, THOR 2 also blends the genres of Fantasy and Sci-Fi (which are somewhat similar in tone, usually different in execution) together into a coherent storyline.
Picking up two years after the events of the original THOR, this installment begins with Thor, the demigod of thunder, bringing peace to the nine realms of which his father, Odin, watches over. While he frequently checks up on Jane (his love interest from the first movie), he doesn’t travel to Earth or approach her, because of his Odin’s disdain for Thor’s love for a mortal (who typically live for less than 100 years). When Jane disappears off the grid of Earth for a brief minute, Thor goes to investigate and finds that she is carrying an ancient weapon that a group of enemies (known as the Dark Elves) want. These beings existed before the dawn of the universe and want to plunge space and it’s worlds back into eternal darkness. It’s up to Thor, Jane, and a reluctant Loki to save not only Asgard and Earth, but the fabric of time and space itself.
It seems relatively easy to throw characters like Batman, Captain America, or Iron Man into tough situations and pit them against super villains. This is because these characters are mere mortals. With superheroes like Superman, Wolverine, and Thor, a certain struggle seems to arise. How does one put demigods that live and die like mortals, give or take 5 thousand years (Loki says at one point in the movie), powerful aliens, or mutants against menaces that could destroy them. The solution is simple. All you have to do is pit these immortals against fellow immortal baddies. MAN OF STEEL did this well. THOR: THE DARK WORLD ups the stakes by putting the demigods and humans against an enemy that is older than the universe and is bent on its complete destruction. The plot is a bit familiar, but the undeniably cool and fun execution is what counts here.
Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, and Anthony Hopkins all slip right back into their roles of Thor, Loki and Odin without hesitation. Natalie Portman is good as Jane, but (much like the original) she isn’t given a whole lot to do other than look pretty and crush on Thor. Out of all the main characters, she’s the least interesting and this seems like a bit of a missed opportunity. Meanwhile, Kat Dennings is given more screen time as the comic relief character and I couldn’t stand her for the most part. Her character is annoying and the comedy moments with her feel forced. Stellan Skarsgard and Idris Elba, among others, also fit right into their supporting roles with skill.
As far as the story itself goes, the stakes are high and so is the excitement. THOR: THE DARK WORLD has some of the best action scenes I’ve seen all year and a final showdown that’s worth the price of admission alone. Loki also delivers some of the biggest laughs of the entire movie. He may be an evil, power-hungry demigod, but he’s equally charming and very fun to watch. On the nitpicking side of things, sometimes the comic relief (especially from Kat Dennings) seems to be a bit much and there’s a convenient plot development that leads into the final third of the movie. Some spotty CGI ruins what could have been amazing visuals in a couple of moments, but for the most part, the effects are excellent.
IRON MAN 3 was great and THOR: THE DARK WORLD is damn good. Marvel appears to have stopped playing safe with their heroes and throw a few risks into the formula. There was a moment in THOR 2 that I was shocked to see and it has changed up what we expect from a company that used to give out formulaic origin stories. If the end credits scene is any indication, we have a lot to look forward to in THE AVENGERS sequel, which comes out in May 2015. I, for one, am very much looking forward to what they plan on shaking up with CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER and will even give GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY a shot. THOR: THE DARK WORLD may not be the best superhero of the year (MAN OF STEEL, IRON MAN 3, and THE WOLVERINE all beat it in that respect), but it’s a blast that will entertain and thrill. This is a solid recommendation!