Real Quick Review: If you ever wondered what would happen if Star Wars, Star Trek and Harry Potter crossed over, it's Thor: The Dark World.
In Context Review: It's probably in the top ten of the best movies based on Marvel characters, in the top five of MCU movies, and certainly an upgrade from Thor (with less Shakespearean flare).
My Review: Most people expect movies that come out in the fall to be more dramatic (I will always say that this is why the first Hulk movie went over so badly; it was a drama being shown during popcorn-season) but this second installment of Thor's adventures could easily be seen as last-minute entry for summer 2013.
Reason #1 for this is the main villain's motivation: Malekith, leader of the Dark Elves (Christopher Eccleston) apparently liked it when everything in the universe was literally dark and wants to use the super-McGuffin known as the Aether to put things back that way. Last anyone saw him, Thor's (Chris Hemsworth) grandpa was kicking his armies ass, but Malekith fooled them all by faking his death -and basically killing off 98% of his own race in the process. So...yay?
Reason #2 is what happens to the Aether: well, there has to be some way to include Thor's old earth buddies, right? Of course! It just so happens that Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) was in London trying forget she was in love with a super-powered alien (also know as a "date") when her intern Darcy (Kat Dennings) tells her that things in a nearby ally aren't obeying the laws of physics. They go to investigate, and quicker than you can say, "Sam touches a piece of the Cube in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," Jane gets possessed by the Aether. What a coincidence!
Reason #3 is the action: Thor comes to earth, banters a little, and takes Jane to meet his folks...oh, and do a Aether-ectomy. Malekith apparently has the Aether connected to his Dark Elf smartphone, because he knows exactly where Jane is and sends his BFF Algrim (Adewale-Akinnuoye Agbaje) as a Trojan Prisoner brought in by Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and two of the Warriors Three during a recent raid. With Heimdall (Idris Elba) distracted and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in a time-out for trying to take over Asgard then
trying to rule Earth, Algrim stages a jail-break that allows Malekith to make his presence known, despite the best efforts of Thor, Sif, and even Odin's (Anthony Hopkins) wife Frigga (Rene Russo).
Of course, there are plots and scenes that make the movie very appropriate for the season: a few betrayals and back-stabs, a pretty big sacrifice and an ending (to the movie itself) that raises as many questions as it answered. Oh, and there are jokes, winks/nods and a cameo that only enhances the experience.
I will say this: if you're looking for a major shake-up, you'll be disappointed. The status quo has to be intact enough for at least one more Thor movie and two more Avengers movies.
On the negative side: Malekith seems purely to exist as an excuse for Loki to not be the main villain (again) and so Loki can partner with Thor. Jane is more a damsel in distress than the last time; my theory on this is that if they had made Darcy the scientist and Jane her best friend (who happens to be a nurse) Portman's character would be better received overall. Also, the Warriors Three are around as much as I would like.
Other than that: Hemsworth and Hiddleston clearly have a good chemistry after two movies. Alexander is certainly making a case for more screentime. Russo was just plain awesome, and in-universe, her character and Hopkins' are definitely trying to ship Thor (albeit with different women).
Pet Peeve: Some will complain that the final fight was little two joke-heavy; I hope these weren't the same people who complained about the Man of Steel fight scene. Anyway, I don't know about you, but in real life fights aren't choreographed and random things can happen, especially if a extremely rare universal event cause random wormholes to appear.
Rating: 4 out of 7 Mjolnirs
Labels: Marvel Comics, movies, Thor