Customer Review

8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of those rare sequels that surpasses the original in all respects., November 9, 2013
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This review is from: Thor: The Dark World (DVD)
The first Thor was a problematic film for me. I loved the actors, I loved the Jack-Kirby-perfect Asgard, but the film itself felt flat. Perhaps it was the rather disorganized plot, perhaps it was the way it followed the same strategy as films like Time Guardian and Galaxia, beginning in lush sci-fi locales but migrating to a small town to save money later on. Avengers further attached me to Hemsworth's Thor, and so I was really looking forward to seeing him get a grander, more developed outing. Thor: the Dark World does not disappoint.

Once again, the source of troubles is another race of ancient magic aliens, this time the Dark Elves led by their king Malekith (Christopher Eccleston, still failing to buck that Doctor Who typecasting). The Dark Elves (who are more or less the Eldar from Warhammer 40,000 for all intents and purposes) are the longtime enemies of the Asgardians, but after an apocolyptic battle only a handful of them remain. Awakened by the coming alignment of all the worlds connected by Yggdrasil (they hyperspace network that connects all the worlds Thor and his pals hang out on) Malekith and his creepily masked flunkies set out to recover the Ether, a spooky living weapon that will blot out all light in the universe.

Predictably conflict ensues. Through a series of accidents the Ether winds up living inside Thor's human sweetheart, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) where it will grow until it devours her. Defying Odin, Thor hatches a surprisingly cunning plan to dupe Malekith into removing the Ether from Foster so he can destroy the Elven leader and his weapon in one go. Things don't go so swimmingly, and it all comes down to a ludicrously silly, magnificently well-done battle across dimensions for the fate of the universe (with a tube ride through London in the middle).

If, like me, you loved everything about Thor but just wanted it to be better, then this is the film for you. Thor and Foster's romance, forced and simplistic in the first movie, is played out well here. Asgard, before just a shiny setpiece, is now a well-built series of believable locations with an aged, lived-in feel to them. The Dark Elves, unlike the thuggish Frost Giants, have a technology and martial prowess that seems genuinely threatening. Baddie Eccleston does a decent enough job, although he lacks some of his scenery chewing prowess that we've seen in films like G.I. Joe and 28 Days Later. Even Foster's intern Darcy (Kat Dennings) is a tolerable comic presence this time around. And of course we get more Stellan Skarsgård, who is always fabulous.

Real credit is due, however, to Tom Hiddleston as Loki. I felt sure that after two films as the big bad I'd be sick of him, but his turn as Thor's crafty, somewhat unwilling accomplice is meaty and exciting. You genuinely can't tell how much of his behavior is sincere and how much of it is buildup to some treachery- without giving too much away, even though Loki is on Thor's side in this film, he is by far a more dangerous force than Malekith. Just wait for it.

Of course there are also some little tidbits thrown in at the end of the film to foreshadow future installments, which are now all but guaranteed to echo the Infinity Gauntlet storyline (as if seeing Thanos in Avengers wasn't a big enough clue). What this means for the next Avengers and other Marvel properties is anyone's guess, but color me excited as all get out.

I can think of very few bad things to say about this film to counterbalance the good. Sif and the Warriors Three are still rather underused (but then Thor already has another super team) and Idris Elba's Heimdall is still solidly a supporting character (although he does fight a spaceship using parkour and stabbing, so that's pretty cool). There are also some effects that seem a little odd- a thrown boulder near the middle looks a little wobbly-fake, and in the climax Malekith grows to enormous proportions which is not really made clear until he starts fighting Thor. By and large, though, this is a very very good film, and the acting, writing and visuals are nearly above reproach.

Pros:
-Exactly like the first Thor only better
-Boasts a big sense of scale and tension
-Skilled cast elevates it above just a comic book movie

Cons:
-A few wonky effects here and there
-Lacks the memorable, bombastic theme music we've seen in other Marvel films
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 12, 2013 2:23:38 PM PST
Excellent review. Thanks.

Posted on Nov 13, 2013 8:26:50 AM PST
mattinacan says:
I wouldn't give it 5 stars, maybe 3 1/2 or 4. It's a good movie - and where is the theme music from the first movie? it was sorely missed.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2013 12:43:11 PM PST
Moviedude says:
I know, right? Thor had this big operatic epic soundtrack, Iron Man 3 had this kick-butt bombastic 90s action flick sound to it, then Thor 2 is mostly just incidental music. It was probably my biggest letdown.
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