Sunday, November 5, 2017

Movie Review: Thor: The Dark World

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns in phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for a solo adventure that helps tie up some of the aftermath of The Avengers. Odin (Anthony Hopkins) Narrates an old tale of the dark elves and their powerful magical object known as the Aether. The leader of the dark elves Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) only manages to save a few dark elves including Algrim (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) before the rest are destroyed by the Asgardians. In the present day, Thor works to return peace to the nine realms after his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) brought chaos from his actions in The Avengers. Loki is punished and only spared death because of the mercy of his and Thor's mother Frigga (Rene Russo). Thor and his friends win a battle after Thor takes down a giant rock monster with one swing. He celebrates but his mind is tugged back to Earth even as Sif (Jaimie Alexander) makes advances towards him.

In London, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) goes on an awkward date with Richard (Chris O'Dowd) when Darcy (Kat Dennings) shows up to show her a strange signal on her device. Jane, Darcy, and the new intern Ian (Jonathan Howard) head to the location of the signal. Meanwhile, Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) has gone crazy around the Stonehenge landing him in a mental ward. Jane explores the area and is transported to the dark world and infected by the Aether. Heimdall (Idris Elba) notices that Jane has gone missing and sends Thor to find her. Jane returns thinking she's only been gone for a short time but has really been gone for five hours so Darcy had called the police. Jane is a bit upset to see Thor since he didn't visit her when he came to New York. First, Darcy then the police interrupt their talk. The police try to arrest Jane but it causes a huge explosion. Sensing something wrong, Thor brings Jane back to Asgard where they can discover more. Odin is not happy about Jane's presence her but he explains that the Aether is a fluid infinity stone. 

Malekith turns Agrim into one of the deadly Kursed and sends him to infiltrate the Asgard prison where Loki is kept. He breaks free causing a distraction and breaks down the energy defense field to allow the dark elves to invade and try to capture Jane. Malekith is fooled and only manages to kill Frigga before Thor shocks him in the face with a bolt of lightning. The dark elves flee and Asgard tries to recover. Mourning Frigga, Odin wants to heighten defenses while Thor desires to track down Malekith. With the help of Heimdall and his other friend, Thor plans treason and breaks out Loki from prison. He escapes off the planet with Jane using Loki's knowledge of a hidden wormhole and a dark elf ship. Darcy and Ian pick up Dr. Selvig at the mental ward as he warns of the convergence and provides the only solution in a new technology. On the dark world, Loki pretends to betray Thor tricking Malekith into pulling the Aether out of Jane. Thor meets his match in a battle with Kursed so Loki has to help by attaching a bomb to the monster's hip but the trickster is stabbed in the process. 

Jane discovers a wormhole that ties back to the one she discovered on Earth. A soldier returns from the dark world to inform Odin that Loki is dead. Back in the laboratory, Jane and Selvig discuss the convergence. They prepare to prevent it but the dark elves invade Greenwich. Thor fights Malekith as they transport between realms. Ian saves Darcy from a dark elf attack and Jane and Selvig flee the dark army. Malekith uses the Aether to unite the realms but Thor drives one of Selvig's tools into his heart destroying him though not the Aether. Thor returns to Asgard but decides he would rather be on Earth with Jane. The Aether is taken to the Collector (Benicio Del Toro) where it will be kept hidden from a greater threat. Loki takes control of the throne disguising himself as Odin. 

Thor: The Dark World is not a highlight for Marvel and plays like just another episode while contributing to the greater story by adding the Reality Stone. While the first film had to deal with Thor's origin and took away his powers, this second film does deliver more Thor action with hammer flying and epic superhero battles. Director Alan Taylor is familiar with fantasy fare so his experience brings out solid performances from Eccleston and Hopkins while Portman's foster appears to be the weakest part. Hemsworth is amusing as Thor but has not lived up to his full potential for action or humor. Phase 2 was definitely an improvement on the first part including this film but it still feels episodic and just another chapter in the Thor saga.  

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