[Movie Review] Thor Stays Light In 'The Dark World'
Marvel returns to the world of Asgard in their latest big screen adventure, where the God of Thunder lives with his family and friends, longing for his human soulmate, the smart and pretty scientist Jane.
Thor: The Dark World has all of the vibrantly colored action spectacle that we have come to expect from Disney’s Marvel Studios, and so what if you won’t know what is happening if you haven’t seen the 2010 original film, because this is a “popcorn movie” meant to work the brains of only the most well-read comic book fans. For general audiences, the sequel flies by like Thor’s mighty hammer, in a blast of cinematic wizardry that is sometimes awe-inspiring (as in the first film) and sometimes overwhelming, but always exciting.
Chris Hemsworth (The Cabin in the Woods, The Avengers) is the pefect embodiment of the titular hero, with his long blonde hair, massively scuplted arms, and impossible abs sure to make the females in the audience swoon. In his third turn as Thor, Hemsworth appears more comfortable and the character fittingly wiser than in the first film or in The Avengers.
And who wouldn’t be in love with Jane when she’s played by the always adorable Natalie Portman (Black Swan, The Professional)? Jane gets a lot more to do in The Dark World after she is possessed by an ancient evil that wants to swallow the universe in darkness, and Portman has fun with the role, as Thor reunites with his star-crossed girlfriend.
While Man of Steel and even Iron Man 3 both went more cerebral earlier this year, Thor’s return keeps it mostly lighthearted, aside from an emotional death scene that we won’t spoil here and the ever present menace that is Loki, played again by the excellent Tom Hiddleston (Thor, The Avengers).
As Thor’s evil not-quite-brother, Hiddleston rips and roars through every scene he’s in, owning the flashy role and in fact the movie. Loki is deliciously bad, even when he’s trying to be good, and we love him all the more for it thanks to such an entertaining actor presenting such a brilliant performance.
Kat Dennings (Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist) also returns from the first film, again supplying comic relief as Jane’s best friend Darcy, and Stellan Skarsgard (Mama Mia) is considerably more wacking than we last saw him as Jane’s former mentor.
The great Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs) returns as Thor’s dad, the wise and powerful Odin, and Rene Russo (Leathal Weapon 3) is also back as Thor’s mom Frigga.
Much less Earth-bound than the original, The Dark World zips viewers through the galaxy, most effectively during Thor’s big brawl with the film’s main bad guy Malekith (played by Christopher Eccleston), in which the hero and villain are continuously falling through space portals from one planet to another and back again, all while throwing blows.
While the first film had the epic sweep of a mythic origin story, the sequel is like an issue of the classic comic book brought to life in living, breathing color with a chest-pounding soundtrack and a most righteous moral lesson to fight for what is right and learn to forgive those who have done us wrong in the past.
Be sure to hang out until the very end of the credits for Marvel’s customary closing bonus scene, as well as a mid-credits teaser for next summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and get there early for an extended preview of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, opening in April.
Official Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Reviewed by: Matt Artz
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Thor: The Dark World (rated PG13) is now playing at The Pioneer Theatre in Manteo (Dec. 13-19), and at R/C KDH Movies 10 in Kill Devil Hills.