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'Thor: The Dark World' an admirable follow-up to the original film

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With the success of The Avengers, the stakes are high for Marvel to keep audiences coming back for more without feeling that they’re seeing more of the same without being cheated.

 

‘Thor: The Dark World’  falls perfectly into this category.

 

The film picks up after the events in The Avengers. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is in the process of restoring order to the nine realms at the request of his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins). However, our hero has no time to rest, as a mysterious energy form called the Aether awakens the Dark Elves, headed by the evil Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), who plans to invade Thor’s home of Asgard and end anyone and anything that stands in his way. Complicating matters is the Aether making its way to earth and infects astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who hasn’t seen Thor since he returned to Asgard in the film’s predecessor.Thor/Loki photo: telegraph.co.uk

 

This is indeed a challenge that not even Thor can handle alone. So in a begrudging move, he enlists the help of his twisted half-brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who is currently imprisoned on Asgard after practically annihilating an entire population of New Yorkers in The Avengers. Now Thor faces the task of saving his universe from Malekith with someone he doesn’t even trust while running the risk of losing Jane permanently to the dark world if he fails.

 

Now in his third go-round as the caped Norse god, Hemsworth has clearly embraced the role and is capable of carrying a film almost as well any lead actor in the Marvel franchise next to Robert Downey Jr. While Hemsworth is a steady model of consistency, Hiddleston’s Loki is an absolutely perfect foil character, stealing scenes and perfectly capturing the love-hate relationship between Thor and his half-brother by matching cynical, witty banter with an underlying tone of ruthlessness.

 

The performances of Hemsworth and Hiddleston round out a remarkably strong cast. When Academy Award winners Portman and Hopkins are your supporting actors, what is understood needn’t be discussed. Portman doesn’t deliver anything remarkable as she reprises her role of Jane, but with the two aforementioned actors shouldering the weight of the film, she doesn’t really need to. Kat Dennings (2 Broke Girls) returns in the role of Darcy and adds some comic relief that prevents the film from ever becoming remarkably serious. Meanwhile, returning actors Idris Elba (Heimdall) Rene Russo (Thor’s mother Frigga) and Jaimie Alexander (Lady Sif) are joined by newcomers Zachary Levi (Chuck) and Eccleston.

 

‘Thor: The Dark World perhaps delves into the concept of fantasy more than any other mainstream Marvel superhero film has. The mythological themes are a change from the simplicity of The Amazing Spider-Man or Captain America: First Avenger. In fact, it’s such a change that your average comic book movie goer might not find it as appealing. The special effects are remarkable,  the locations and backdrops (particularly in the non-earth locations) are aesthetically impressive and there’s a fair amount of humor throughout the film’s two-hour running time.  Dark World wanders off at times and the fight scenes seem a little repetitious and the 3D format isn’t a necessity. It won’t particularly break any new ground in the Marvel Universe, but it definitely matches the original Thor because it doesn’t try to be more than it is. And frankly, it doesn’t try to offer more than it should- and in this case, that’s a good thing.

 

As usual with the Marvel movies, there’s always a few surprises: during the film as well as after the credits, so make sure you stay.


 

 Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

 

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Thor/Loki photo: telegraph.co.uk