Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano, Jaimie Alexander, Rene Russo and the IT Crowd’s amazing Chris O’Dowd
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Film length: 1hrs 52min
Theatrical Release: October 30th, 2013
Blu-ray release: February, 2014
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know how I was not a fan of Thor. So, I was kind of dreading reviewing this sequel, Thor: The Dark World. I’m sure I have watched it before but my Swiss cheese memory was unable to hold onto any of it. Well, this is why I’m going back and watching these films, and it is a good thing too. As it turns out, this is one of my favorites in the MCS so far.
The film (4/5)
“That’s Thor out there! He’s waving his hammer around and everything!”
Thor: The Dark World opens to a prelude eons back in time when Thor’s grandfather, Bor, was at war with the Dark Elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston). Malekith was on the brink of unleashing a weapon of great power known as the Aether on the nine realms. Bor, however, has just defeated the majority of the Dark Elf forces and is closing in on Malekith.
Malekith decides to sacrifice the rest of his army so he may escape with a few select soldiers where they will hide in suspended animation. Bor, believing all of the Dark Elves have been destroyed, secures the Aether by hiding it within a stone column in the Dark World.
In present-day, Thor (Chris Helmsworth) returns Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to their home world of Asgard to stand before their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Loki is to be punished for his war crimes on Earth and for disrupting the balance of the Nine Realms. Odin imprisons Loki and assigns Thor with his friends to fix the damage to the Nine Realms.
Meanwhile on Earth, Thor’s super smart earthling girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) has moved her astrophysics team from New Mexico to London, England. They are brought there by some strange readings which are created by portals that can disrupt the laws of physics. Jane is caught in one of the portals which brings her to The Dark World, where she accidentally stumbles Aether and becomes infected by it. Malekith is awakened by the Aether’s release and begins his search for Jane, so he may obtain the weapon and return the Nine Realms to darkness.
Well, I need to find my pants because Thor: The Dark World just charmed them right off of me. The first Thor movie was a bit stuffy as it took itself way too seriously. The Dark World has a much more relaxed feeling with a campy tone that I got some serious Doctor Who vibes from. I don’t know if it was because of Eccleston (he played The Doctor for one year), or how the Earth parts take place in London, or maybe it is because the Dark Elves look a little like the Cybermen. Whatever the reason, it really worked for me as I enjoyed the mix of Nordic mythology, science fiction, and humour.
I only have a few minor complaints. They use the “Loki disguise”/”Asgard hologram” spell a little too frequently as a plot twist device and the story does get a little muddled at times. The Aether and Dr. Selveg’s “physic stabilizing” sticks probably makes for one too many film “McGuffins”, but the Dark Elves with their wicked ass “vacuum sucking” grenades were a cool foe for Thor. The Convergence, where all of the Nine Realms will be in alignment for a short moment, brings a scenes of urgency that builds up nicely to a satisfying final act.
Memorable Moments / What Stood Out to Me
Thor and Loki have some great scenes together
The two were a couple of stiffs in the first film and it was jarring when they started jabbing each other with the Whedon-y one liners in The Avengers. The Dark World, however, finds that perfect balance of tension and humor between the two. I am looking forward to see them both in the upcoming Ragnarok!
It’s my boy, Chris O’Dowd, from the IT Crowd!
Hilarious show! You should watch it if you haven’t already. O’Dowd has a couple of funny scenes which gets only one gripe from me: they’re too short!
One broke Girl was able to break out
Kat Dennings is a comedy sitcom star and I didn’t find her all that funny in the previous film, but she was allowed to shine in this one. She played the role of comic relief well and I found an audible laugh come out of me from her delivery a few times. Good job!
Bonus: Stan Lee cameo review! (5/5)
This time Stan-the-Man is a patient in a psych ward. He has one line that is built up nicely by Dr. Selveg who is busy explaining The Convergence. It was a great way to get some of dryer plot points out-of-the-way with some humour. Great little spot for Stan to get a laugh. Mars approved!
Marvel went all out with the eye candy shots of Asgard and really upped the look of the sets for this one. Even Asgard’s dungeons look like the inside of an Apple store but with more personality. The scenes in London can look a bit drab by comparison, but perhaps London is supposed to look drab. Well, it’s a fine-looking Blu-ray and it appears the crew has worked out all of the bugs of the digital equipment they have adopted since The Avengers.
This 7.1 DTS-HD track probably packed the most punch out of any of the previous MCU films so far. Thor’s lightning attacks scorched through all of my 5.1 speakers and the film final battle sequence with the landing/crashing alien craft really tested the low-end of my setup. Good times.
Special Features (3/5)
- Finally, a Marvel One Shot that enjoyed! And you know what? Ben Kingsley rocks it again! This one shot is to make up for all of the Marvel fans who were upset over the Mandarin’s portrayal in Iron Man 3. It is a legit little piece where Kingsley can shine again.
- The gag reel is skippable
- Audio Commentary: Director Alan Taylor, cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau, producer Kevin Feige, and Tom Hiddleston are all here. Each scene that is presented is talked about specificity, but it is a bit on the dry side. I listened for about 15 minutes than skimmed the rest.
- A Brother’s Journey: Thor & Loki 32 min featurette is divided into two parts. It breaks down the brothers from casting and explores their differences in Thor, The Avengers, and The Dark World. Fairly entertaining but goes on a bit long.
- Deleted & Extended Scenes There are six scenes that total eight minutes. An interesting lot considering the inclusion of some would have helped with the muddy plot but I suppose they were cut for the sake of pacing.
- Scoring Thor: The Dark World 5 min feature on Composer Brian Tyler. The score didn’t stick out to me so this was kind of meh.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier Exclusive Look Behind the scenes look at the then upcoming Winter Soldier. Really just a four-minute commercial.
TL;DR: Not a bad amount of content. The deleted scenes and the Marvel One Shot are a must to check out.
If you would have told me “Phase Two” of the MCU would start off with a mediocre Iron Man film and a stellar Thor one, I would have thought you to be crazy. But that is exactly what has happened! Thor is such a boring/secondary Marvel character and I think this is a much better direction to take him in. I was looking forward to the upcoming third Thor film, Thor Ragnarok because of The Hulk will be making an appearance. But if this is the direction they will be going with Thor now, I am looking forward to EVERY part of it.