By Dan Metcalf, Jr.
Clipper Film Correspondent
Thor: The Dark World (Marvel)
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content.
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Eccleston, Jaimie Alexander, Zachary Levi, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, Idris Elba, Rene Russo, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgård, Alice Krige, Clive Russell, Jonathan Howard.
Written by Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Don Payne, and Robert Rodat, based on the comic books by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby.
Directed by Alan Taylor
Oh boy, here comes “Phase 2” of the next round for Marvel. I'm getting all kinds of excited. With the release of Iron Man 3 this past spring, the first phase of Marvel's Avengers saga was (sort of) buttoned up. Thor: The Dark World represents the first step into the next realm of superhero movies, following last year's runaway success of The Avengers.
Chris Hemsworth is back as Thor, the lightning god of thunder from the planet Asgard. As the story begins, a history of the dark elves is told, including their defeat at the hands of Thor's grandfather thousands of years earlier. After the fall of the elves, their weaponized fluid known as “Aether” is taken from their leader Malekeith (Christopher Eccleston) and hidden deep inside the dark planet, with the intention of keeping it from getting into the wrong hands (sort of like the “Tessaract” seen in Captain America and The Avengers – more on that later). Malekeith is assumed dead, but is really in some sort of hibernation on his home planet.
Back in present day Earth, Thor's old flame Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is trying to move on in London, suspecting that her Asgardian boyfriend is blowing her off (having seen him on TV during the Battle of New York in The Avengers) since he hasn't returned as promised at the end of Thor 1. Jane's intern Darcy (Kat Dennings) is still around, along with an intern of her own (Jonathan Howard). Meanwhile at Stonehenge, Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) goes nuts, streaking naked around the old ruins, apparently not quite over his part in the Battle of New York. Darcy and Jane soon discover a strange portal in a London industrial area. Jane falls into the portal, which leads her to the Aether hiding place. One the Aether infects her, Jane transports back to London, where Thor appears and takes her back to Asgard, in the hope that his people can deal with the Aether.
Jane's contact with the weapon stirs Malekeith awake from his hibernation, and he sets a course for Asgard, where Thor, his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), his mother Frigga (Rene Russo) and Thor's pals do battle with the dark elves. When Malekeith recovers the Aether from Jane, Thor must enlist the imprisoned Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to get it back and save Earth from destruction.
Thor: The Dark World is a great sequel to the original Thor, and an even better set-up for the next Marvel Phase, which will include the Guardians of the Galaxy and eventually lead to a super showdown with Thanos (who appeared in a mid-credit scene at the end of Avengers). The Aether and Tessaract are both gems that will eventually make up part of the “Infinity Gauntlet,” a seemingly invincible weapon Thanos intends to use for universal domination.
In many ways, Thor 2 has a lot more going for it that its predecessor, including a fair amount of action and more epic battle scenes. There is a lot more humor, but a little less character development than the first Thor movie, but the spectacle of the conflict makes Thor: The Dark World a lot of fun and a great companion to the entire Marvel package.
Be sure to stick around for ALL of the credits for a little extra fun at the end.