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Thor: The Dark World Movie Review

Thor: The Dark World (2013) movie poster Thor: The Dark World

Theatrical Release: November 8, 2013 / Running Time: 111 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Alan Taylor / Writers: Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (screenplay); Don Payne, Robert Rodat (story); Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby (comic books)

Cast: Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Natalie Portman (Jane Foster), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Anthony Hopkins (Odin), Christopher Eccleston (Malekith), Jaimie Alexander (Sif), Zachary Levi (Fandral), Ray Stevenson (Volstagg), Tadanobu Asano (Hogun), Idris Elba (Heimdall), Rene Russo (Frigga), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Algrim/Kurse), Kat Dennings (Darcy Lewis), Stellan Skarsgård (Erik Selvig), Alice Krige (Eir), Clive Russell (Tyr), Jonathan Howard (Ian Boothby), Chris O'Dowd (Richard) / Uncredited: Chris Evans (Captain America), Benicio Del Toro (The Collector), Ophelia Lovibond (The Collector's Assistant)


For the third time in three years, Thor and his colleagues are hitting the big screen. Thor: The Dark World obviously represents a sequel to Thor's solo series as opposed to The Avengers, which his universe most heavily influenced.
With their grand New York adventure behind them, it's back to regular old life for the almighty Norse god (Chris Hemsworth) and his devious adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston).

For his actions against the Avengers, Loki is imprisoned in Asgard's highest security prison. Meanwhile, Thor and his powerful hammer are needed to bring peace to various alien worlds, like Vanaheim, the locale for the film's first big set piece. Though Thor is revered by all and believed to be a worthy king in the making, his heart longs for his mortal love interest, scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), whom he has not seen in a couple of years. Back on the dating market in London, Jane is joined by her intern Darcy (Kat Dennings) and Darcy's new intern Ian (Jonathan Howard).

There, the three of them discover a parking garage housing inexplicable phenomena. Objects dropped disappear and then reappear higher, having visited some other unknown world. While exploring the site, Jane goes missing for a moment she later learns is five hours. In that time, she has awakened an old feud between Asgard and Dark Elves. Jane is infected with Aether, a potent long-hidden energy source that awakens the captive banished Elves and protects her from anyone accosting her.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) gives a Kronan giant a chance to surrender in a brief battle on Vanaheim in "Thor: The Dark World."

A concerned Thor shows up and whisks Jane back to his home, where she meets his parents and is subjected to some advanced observation. Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is adamant that a human being doesn't belong on Thor's home planet. But that human being is a key piece in the rekindled war between Elves and Asgardians.

While the first movie sent Thor to our planet as an outsider, The Dark World unfolds primarily on Asgard, with Jane out of her element. This sequel journeys between the two worlds, but its fantastical war action could use a little more humanity. Of course, Thor's royal family is as human as aliens come. Even without Kenneth Branagh in the helm (he is succeeded by the HBO-seasoned Alan Taylor), the drama has Shakespearean overtones to it and rich intrigue.

Such content is not at odds with the successful Marvel Studios model, one that serves up fairly light-hearted entertainment fit for all ages. Though virtually every commercially ambitious live-action movie these days receives a PG-13 rating, the Marvel ones seem to resonate with the most demographics while raising the fewest objections. Sure, there's some violence, death, and dismemberment. But there's also some great sarcasm and Jane's gifted mentor (Stellan Skarsgård) who's lost his mind and seen working in his underwear and less. The Dark World may not be the laugh riot that Iron Man's films are, but humor is one of its greatest tools and one that serves it well, as evidenced from the responsive crowd at my packed screening.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is imprisoned for his crimes against humanity as seen in "The Avengers." Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) gets a taste of Thor's world.

With its cameos (Stan Lee and a fellow Avenger), teasing end credits scenes,

references to New York, and promise of a return, this second Thor feels very much like one piece in modern cinema's biggest commercial puzzle. Marvel films have been so successful for so long that one wonders how long the studio can remain in tune with moviegoer tastes. If anything, they're still growing in popularity, as evidenced by Iron Man's threequel dominating the box office this year and handily outpacing its two predecessors. While The Dark World seems unlikely to reach such heights, it does seem poised to outperform the original Thor's $181 million domestic gross in 2011. If it does, we'll have a more definitive understanding of "an Avengers bump" that we can then expect to carry over to next spring's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, scenes from which will apparently precede certain 3D screenings (but didn't at mine).

The Dark World's performance, which will also be challenged by the always formidable Thanksgiving Eve competition and The Hunger Games sequel a week earlier, should help Marvel decide if this largely untested early November window, a perfect half-year away from their customary summer-opening debut, can be similarly fruitful. They have already scheduled the Disney-animated Big Hero 6 for same weekend in 2014.

Related Reviews:
ThorIron ManThe Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Superheroes! Volume 1Adventures in Babysitting
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Now in Theaters: GravityCaptain Phillips
Chris Hemsworth: The Cabin in the WoodsRed Dawn | Tom Hiddleston: Midnight in ParisWar Horse
Natalie Portman: Black Swan | Anthony Hopkins: NixonThe Rite | Jaimie Alexander: Kyle XY: The Final Season
The Dark Knight RisesThe Amazing Spider-ManGhost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

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Reviewed November 8, 2013.

Text copyright 2013 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2013 Marvel Studios. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.