As Thor: The Dark World debuts in theaters, it should hardly surprise that yet again Tom Hiddleston steals the show in a Marvel movie. But, this time out, Hiddleston’s Loki is not the villain. By having Chris Eccleston’s Malekith serve as the Thor sequel villain, filmmakers are free to make the film a story that is simultaneously about redemption and revenge.
Our story begins with a flashback and narration by Anthony Hopkins’ Odin. It seems that his Asgardian relatives, over 1,000 years ago, fought the dark elves who sought to bring a darkness to the universe. The Asgardians defeated them, and as they were inches from complete annihilation, the dark elves' leader (Malekith) took off and has been in a slumber ever since.
Then, director Alan Taylor and a collective of screenwriters get right to it. After The Avengers, we saw Thor take Loki back to Asgard, and we meet him as he is being presented to his father for punishment. Loki has no remorse and that ticks off the King of Asgard to no end. So, he puts him in an Asgardian prison for eternity.
Meanwhile, Thor is cleaning up the nine realms-wide mess that Loki’s New York-based insurrection started, and peace is just about at hand. Then, we flash to Earth where we meet Natalie Portman’s Jane as she is out on a date… as seen in this Thor: The Dark World clip. Kat Dennings interrupts with news of a celestial disturbance and our stories start to unite.
Seems that Malekith is awaking and starting his long-gestating journey of revenge for what the Asgardian army did to him and his people.
The remainder of the plot is integral to the story, so you will not hear much more of it from us. But, let me tell you that it is compelling while also playing into the larger Marvel universe picture at the same time.
What is the most compelling aspect of Thor: The Dark World is how a common enemy, Malekith, brings together Loki and his brother. Against his father’s wishes, the two bond over stopping this galaxy-wide war before it can truly bring darkness to the entire universe.
Taylor is a welcome addition to pick up the directing duties from the first film's helmer Kenneth Branagh. Either he is more equipped for the job, or perhaps he simply has a better script. Whatever it is, this second Thor story is much better than the first… and we enjoyed the initial Thor outing.
There is a level of humor that was not quite explored in the first film, except for some jabs from Dennings’ character. There is some dark humor from Loki, Jane and even Thor himself. It’s nice to have the tension-filled moments given relief with humor, as most great thrillers know to do.
Hemsworth has grown greatly as an actor since Thor. He commands his scenes with Hiddleston and Hopkins, where in the first film, he seemed like an observer. But it is hard to compete with Hiddleston, who continues to show us why audiences adore his take on the Marvel character.
Hiddleston finds fresh depths of angst, anger, redemption and complete awesomeness that once again elevates the entire film, much as he did in The Avengers and Thor. There is talk of a Loki stand-alone movie, and although we think that is doubtful given Marvel’s full slate, it shows what a pop culture explosion it was when actor (Hiddleston) met character (Loki).
Our Thor: The Dark World review hopes Loki finds his way into future Marvel stories. We also can gleefully report that this Thor journey is vast in scope, sensory thrills and chills. It is one incredibly fun ride from beginning to end.