Movies

Movie Review – Thor: The Dark World

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thor2Chris Hemsworth strikes again as the hammer-hurling God of Thunder in “Thor: The Dark World,” directed by Alan Taylor.

What a difference two years have made.  When “Thor” premiered in 2011, the Australian actor was a relative unknown.  In my earlier review, I recognized that a star was born.  Since then, he’s been in the mega superhero ensemble “The Avengers,” epic fantasy adventure “Snow White and the Huntsman” and highly acclaimed racing drama “Rush.”

At the beginning of time, the Dark Elves’ efforts to return darkness into the universe, using a red liquid weapon called Aether, were thwarted by King Bor, the leader of Asgard, and Thor’s grandfather.  But Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), its chief, escaped.  Aether was too powerful to destroy, so the Asgardians kept it deeply hidden.

Back on earth, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”) is now in London and trying to move on with her life.  It’s been two years since Thor left and promised to come back.  He’s been working hard to bring peace to all the nine realms.  Jane and her assistant, Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), and new intern Ian Boothby (Jonathan Howard), encounter another atmospheric anomaly.  Jane gets sucked into a wormhole and ends up in that hidden place where the Aether is, and gets infected by it.

Thor transports Jane into Asgard to find a cure for her.  In Asgard, Jane is entwined in the royal family drama.  Loki (Tom Hiddleston, “The Avengers”), Thor’s treasonous brother, is in prison for his crimes.  King Odin (Anthony Hopkins), Thor’s father, would really like to send her back to earth. When Malekith, his right-hand Kurse (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and their army are awakened by the Aether, they force their way into Asgard with their stealth ship. Jane and Frigga, queen of Asgard (Rene Russo), find themselves face to face with the enemy.

Malekith takes advantage of the convergence to spread darkness all around.  Convergence is a phenomenon that happens every 5,000 years, where all realms align and planetary portals open.  Thor needs all the help he can get.  His loyal warriors (Jamie Alexander, Ray Stevenson, Tadanabou Asano, Josh Dallas) and galactic guardian (Idris Elba) are not enough.  He is forced to free Loki, who possesses shape-shifting talent, to help defeat Malekith and trick him to get the infection out of Jane.  Despite of the betrayal and distrust, there’s a side to each brother that still cares for each other.

Hemsworth is in supreme form with such a godly physical presence.  But Hiddleston steals the scenes with Loki’s gleeful slyness and tricky unpredictability.  Loki is one of the most layered, memorable anti-heroes in the world of superheros.  Eccleston as Malekith, however, is a one-dimensional villain.  You know nothing about him and there’s nothing remotely interesting about him.

Portman has a bigger role here than the first installment, but nothing stands out.  I enjoyed the lighter moments in the previous “Thor” and pretty much all Marvel movies, but this movie, which has a dour tone overall, has a few too many comical moments, to the point of distraction.  They mostly involve Jane, Darcy, Ian and returning mentor, Professor Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard).  Despite this, the filmmaker does a decent job of alternating rapidly between solemn or poignant and comedic scenes.  It’s undeniable that these supporting characters are instrumental in assisting Thor during the multi-portal battle with Malekith.

One of the best parts of the movie is the visual aspect.  Jane’s journey to Asgard is cosmically colorful.  Asgard is heavenly realized.  Not only are the lustrous, golden palace and multicolored, crystal bridge back; this mystical realm is now shown with stunning, surrounding nature and elegantly-clothed Asgardians in the city.  A ceremony taking place in nighttime over water is ethereally beautiful.

With the Asgard-setting and realm-hopping, “Thor: The Dark World”  has a grander feel.  Thor has matured and developed  from the first movie.  There’s a realization that he’s got a more important calling than being the heir to the throne.  The twist in the closing scene may evoke mixed feelings.

“Thor: The Dark World” may not necessarily merit a thunderous applause, but it’s an entertaining, otherworldly escape.

Copyright (c) 2013. Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a business manager, foreign language translator, film columnist and travel/lifestyle writer. She can be reached at indotransserv@gmail.com.  Nathalia owns a movie blog, The MovieMaven (http://sdmoviemaven.blogspot.com). Twitter: http://twitter.com/the_moviemaven

"Nathalia Aryani is a film columnist and has a movie blog, The MovieMaven (sdmoviemaven.blogspot.com). Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at indotransserv@gmail.com."

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