‘Dark World’ is a massive improvement

the_avengers_thor-wideNow that’s more like it! The first “Thor” film stumbled and presented a story hobbled by unlikable characters and an uninteresting plot. Now, the filmmakers have mostly learned their lessons and released a film finally worthy of the God of Thunder.

The only lacking factor is, again, the plot: Odin (Anthony Hopkins, “RED 2”) narrates a prologue in which the Dark Elves attempt to drench the nine realms into complete darkness using a weapon known as the Aether. The Asgardians fight them back and seal the Aether away where no man or god can find it. But of course, several millenia later, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”) stumbles into an otherworldly portal and finds the weapon, sending both the Dark Elves and Thor (Chris Hemsworth, “Rush”) into a battle to once again protect the nine realms against the threat of darkness.

The plot is unfortunately as formulaic as its predecessor, being a paint-by-numbers story that regular attendees of superhero movies will be able to see coming.

Unlike the original “Thor” film, however, the plot is done a million times better thanks to one major reason: The characters have actual personality and chemistry. “The Avengers” has done Thor’s character some major good, making him wiser and more likable. Audiences can actually believe he’s a leader among gods.

In addition, Loki (Tom Hiddleston, returning from “The Avengers”) really flaunts his status as the Trickster God. Unlike his melodramatic performance in the first “Thor,” here he is sly, manipulative and mischievous, while still being very likable.

The side characters are more fleshed out as well, and they (along with main heroes Thor and Loki) bounce off of each other very nicely. The romance between Thor and Jane is actually believable this time, as is the tension and rivalry between he and his brother.

And perhaps most importantly, the film maintains a sense of levity. It isn’t enough to weigh down on the drama, but it’s just enough humor to make the dramatic scenes seem all the more genuine.

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Overall, “The Dark World” is a huge improvement over the preceding “Thor” film. It’s far from Marvel’s greatest cinematic work, and the story is still as predictable as ever (with the exception of a very clever twist at the end, which I won’t spoil), but the film feels so much more alive than the rather comatose original. It’s definitely worth the price of admission.

Film: “Thor: The Dark World”
Release Date: Nov. 8, 2013
Director: Alan Taylor
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston
Rating: 4/5