Whether you loved or hated the first Thor, it’s hard to deny that it was a fun and highly entertaining movie. These two things don’t stop with the first one. Fun and highly entertaining are pretty much what define its sequel, Thor: The Dark World. However lackluster the character depth can sometimes be, Marvel gives the general audience what it wants in this slightly darker (and this term is used loosely) and more well-rounded sequel.

The film begins with Dr. Hannibal Lecter’s–sorry, Odin’s (Anthony Hopkins)–narration. He tells us the story of Malekith the Accursed (Christopher Eccleston), ruler of the Dark Elves, and of how, by using a dark Aether that can transfer its power through living organisms, wanted to destroy the world and bring it to darkness five thousand years ago.

Of course, Odin’s father stops him before this can happen and hides the Aether away where no one can find it. Thought dead, Malekith sacrifices most of his people to get away and vows that one day he will be back to finish what he started.

In the present, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is on an awkward date that’s interrupted when her intern Darcy (Kat Dennings) brings to her attention a scientific phenomenon. In an abandoned building in London, the gravitational pull is unstable and there’s some sort of portal that leads into another world. This is happening because the nine realms are aligning in what Asgardians call a convergence.

Back on Asgard, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) continues to fight for peace between the realms while Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is imprisoned for his crimes against Asgard and Earth. When the Aether is released and and Malekith comes back, Thor finds an unlikely ally in his brother in their fight to keep the realms from perishing into darkness.

Like I stated earlier, this sequel is far better than the original. There’s definitely a lot more going on this time around. And now that the first film and The Avengers have established Thor and Loki’s characters and the universe they operate in, it’s easier to focus more on the characters themselves and to get more depth out of them. But we really don’t get much of that. This film is pure and simple entertainment and it generally works, though they do hint at several things which don’t move past the baby stage.

Malekith is your run-of-the-mill bad guy. There is no real reason why he does bad things, but does them nonetheless. Any further look into any of the characters is lost on this movie, and really that’s one of the only major quibbles I have with it. We see an almost love triangle begin to happen between Thor, Jane, and his friend and fighting colleagues Sif (Jaimie Alexander), but it never really goes anywhere. Even Jane and Thor’s relationship doesn’t really progress as the situation wedges itself between them.

The action is superb though. The scenes of Thor’s escape from Asgard are some of the best in the film and the flip flops between realms as they align bring the fighting to a whole new level. Loki and Thor’s tarnished relationship is more at the core of the second half of the film, which is good because Hemsworth and Hiddleston work great together and their bickering and teamwork revitalize the remaining scenes of the film.

The movie moves at a quick pace, but one of the most beautifully shot scenes is actually a funeral one. Candles, the Asgard ceremony, and the respectful silence make it stand out. There is a fun cameo from a familiar Avenger, as well as mentions of the absent S.H.I.E.L.D. and the events of The Avengers, so the film does play well into continuity and makes way for next year’s Marvel films.

Overall, Thor: The Dark World is wholly satisfying. While the film moves briskly, sometimes there’s too much going on and a little slow down to catch up with the characters and dig a little deeper would have been nice. Otherwise, the film is action-packed, entertaining, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Maybe because Batman seems to have the market on dark and brooding superheroes. This sequel is a good follow-up, a decent buffer between Marvel films, and will surely leave audiences generally pleased.

3.5star

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About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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