"If you betray him, I'll kill you."
"It seems there'll be a line."
"Thor: The Dark World," the sequel to "Thor," is a return to our favorite Asgardians as they once again face down a threat to all things everywhere. This time around, the megalomanics are the thought-to-be-extinct Dark Elves of Svartalfheim, led by the appropriately evil Malekith. They seek the Aether, which is some sort of diffuse power that will enable them to turn light into darkness across the Nine Realms at the time of Convergence. See, the Nine Realms are the nine worlds supported by Yggdrasil, a mighty Ash Tree, and...
At this point, I'm reminded of the time I tried to explain M. Night Shyamalan's "Lady in the Water" to someone, and by the time I got to the invincible monkeys, they didn't want to hear it anymore. While you could spend a lot of time examining the complicated Norse mythology or the even more complicated technobabble Astrophysicist Jane Foster constantly spouts, it all boils down to a pretty clearly defined battle of good and evil woven around the alternate storyline of Thor's maturation and growth as a person. Director Alan Taylor has explained his concept of "Dark World" does not merely refer to the desolate world of Svartalfheim, but to the state of adulthood Thor must enter, dealing with difficult choices and losses along the way.
The key joy of this movie, as with the last "Thor," is Tom Hiddleston's Loki. Always riding an edge of unpredictability, Hiddleston keeps us constantly guessing as to how much of Loki is a tortured, self-loathing soul unable to come to grips with his adoptive past, and how much is just evil SOB. His interactions with the stolid, almost stodgy Thor are particularly good, and mirror their individual fighting styles--one quick and subtle as a poniard, the other blunt and direct as a hammer. A brief cameo by Chris Evans comes as a fun surprise as well.
Where the film bogs for me, is anytime we cut back to Jane Foster. I wasn't a fan of this character in the first movie, and she hasn't grown on me in this one either. Whether she's obsessing with her research to the extent of being a jerk to the people around her or spending the last two years sobbing in her pajamas over a guy she met for...what, two days in the last movie?--Foster seems to hit most of the unpleasant female characteristics of the typical Lois-Lane-analogue. Natalie Portman is a fine actress, but she doesn't seem as though she has much more to go on here, than she did as Padmé, back on Tatooine.
On the whole, however, the film is a fun romp with enough terrain-shattering battles to suit anyone likely to be interested in superhero movies. If it sometimes goes overboard with the exposition and the more-mundane Earthling interactions, it more than makes up for it with the grandeur of Asgard and Loki's mocking banter.
At the end of the day, reviews hardly matter anymore for the Marvel films--as they become progressively more intertwined it will become a matter of course that anyone wanting to keep up with one branch of the franchise will likely feel the need to see all the others in order to grasp the whole picture. If you, along with the bulk of Humanity, liked "Avengers," you're probably going to see "Thor: The Dark World," and like it, too.
"Thor: The Dark World" will be in general theatrical release November 8, 2013.
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