Just a mere six months ago shame had fallen upon the house of Marvel after their prized Armoured Avenger tainted their reputation. A heraldry that had been synonymous with the upmost of excellence was no more as the third coming of the Iron Man forsake those that came before. Copious amounts of liberties were taken, an institution of literature disdained, characters betrayed, and only a bleak future remained on the horizon. Thank Odin's beard, for all is not lost in the realm of Marvel's Cinematic Universe, the God of Thunder has returned it to their original glory.
That was my poor attempt at using some Asgardian style dialogue to say Iron Man 3 sucked, and Thor: The Dark World was god damn fantastic. I'll give my thesaurus a rest now and get on with the review.
Financial Marvel/Disney were more than fine after the success of this past summer's Iron Man 3, but as far as expanding and improving the brand it was a big step backwards. With Marvel's Phase 2 films, leading up to Avengers: Age of Ultron (aka Avengers 2), being already 0-1 the pressure for Chris Hemsworth and his Thor franchise to deliver was higher than most sequels are expected to be. Thor: The Dark World not only delivers, but will probably exceed most expectations.
To those who enjoyed the first Thor film will absolutely love The Dark World and to those who haven't, or even seen Marvel's Avengers, will still be thoroughly entertained. Even though Kenneth Branagh didn't return for this Thor sequel the new director, Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones), makes the transition between the two films appear almost seamless. The film's look, style, humour, and action, they all feel the same as before while still adding to the franchise at the same time. The story for Thor in the Dark World allows them to explore many of the other realms that were only mentioned in the first film, expand upon the previous ones, and still include all the Earth bound characters from before.
I won't bother with a synopsis for the film because much like Thor (2011) the opening few scenes are flashbacks with all the exposition any audience member would need. All you need to know for this review is another evil ruler, Malekith (played by Christopher Eccleston) from another dark realm wants the destruction of Asgard, the other known worlds, and Thor is the guy to stop him. That crude summary might sound kind of 'copy and paste' from the first film, give or take an origin story, but trust me there is more to the Dark World.
The 50/50 balance between the fantastical worlds of Asgard & Jotunheim and of Earth (aka Midgard) that the first Thor film had does change quite a bit in this film, as about three quarters of it takes place on worlds other than Earth. This gives audiences a better understanding of Thor's home of Asgard and the dark world of Svartalfheim that his new foe Malekith comes from. When the action breaks out over both of these two worlds its like Middle Earth on steroids. The visuals and visual effects are nothing short of amazing. The action borders on campy on few occasions but the witty banter between Hemsworth's Thor, Lady Sif & the Warriors Three, and the huge fan favourite that is Tom Hiddleston's Loki plays it off and makes it work. The remaining portion of the film takes the story back to Earth and continues with those great 'fish out of water' moments with Thor adjusting to human traits. Between Hemsworth's awkward Earth bound blunders, Hiddleston's mischievous moments, a stark naked Stellen Skarsgard returning as Erik Selvig, and Kat Dennings' hilarious Darcy quips this film could easily double as a comedy. Portman even had some pretty incredible comedic timing, making her more than just the beautiful love interest.
Alan Taylor took hold of Mjolnir and knocked this Thor sequel out of the park. I have nothing bad to say about this film other than I preferred the first film a bit more, but that is fault almost ever sequel has and has no control over so I can't hold that against this one for it. As far as track records go and where The Dark World sits with the rest of the Marvel movies, the best comparison I can make is the Disney/Pixar films. Quality wise both Marvel Studios and Pixar have really only had one blemish on their record. Pixar has Cars 2 and Marvel has Iron Man 3. Both of those still became huge profits for their respective studios despite their poor quality and critical failures, but the films that followed: Brave and now Thor: The Dark World renewed movie goers trust in their brands. You can trust in Marvel once more thanks to this Thor film.
I've kept this review spoiler free for the most part but for my final thoughts I have to give a tease or two for something to look for, to those not familiar with these Marvel movies. First keep an eye out for probably the best Marvel movie cameo since Hugh Jackman's Wolverine in X-Men: First Class. You'll know it when you see it. It brought the house down during in the theater I was in. And last, but definitely not least there are TWO, I'll say it again, TWO secret scenes when all is said and done. So stay in your seats, read a couple minutes of black and white scrolling credits because it might be worth your while.
That's it till April true believers. You can trust I'll be back to talk things Cap when Winter Solider hits the big screen April, 4 next year.
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Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.