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Nov. 12, 2013

Thor: The Dark World But a Bright Future

by Abel Chanyalew, Online Sports Editor
Marvel's stranglehold on the superhero movie business is still well in place and their grip tightens with Alan Taylor's "Thor: The Dark World". This latest installment in the story of Marvel Comics' Norse hero is the sequel to Kenneth Branagh's "Thor" and the eighth installation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel has put out a slew of movies over the last few years that depict the caped crusaders of their comic book universe and "The Dark World" is one of their stronger releases.

Thor: The Dark World

(released November 08, 2013)
Chips Rating:
4.5 stars

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Thor: The Dark World is the latest of Marvel's superhero movies.

Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth), the heir apparent to the throne of Asgard, has just brought peace to the nine realms (including Earth) that were disrupted by his devious adoptive brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in the first Thor movie. He returns to his home world and is greeted by a pleased Odin (Anthony Hopkins), his father and current king of Asgard. Odin believes that Thor is finally ready to be a king but Thor's heart is back on Earth, where his love interest Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) resides waiting for him to return after a two year absence.

Meanwhile on Earth, Jane, an astrophysicist, is investigating a strange phenomenon where objects are defying the laws of physics and vanishing into thin air. Unbeknownst to her, she has found signs of the Convergence, a rare alignment of the nine realms where the boundaries between the worlds are blurred for a short period of time. During her research, Jane then stumbles upon the Aether (like "ether"), an ancient weapon that will plunge the universe into darkness. The Aether infects Jane and takes her as its host body and this interaction awakens Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), a dark elf who has been waiting for his chance to locate and seize this destructive force.

It all seems confusing with the different plot lines running through the film, as there are even more threads that I havenít mentioned but the complexity and intricacy of these threads are what make "Thor: The Dark World" a very good watch. Some storylines are left unfinished or underdeveloped (I'll get to that later) but for the most part the plot is fairly fluid and rarely dull. Throughout the story, director Alan Taylor does well to display the vulnerability of a superhero. Thor can't always do things the right way or in the typical, cookie-cutter fashion. The plot is engaging and not too predictable but the most profound aspects to me are the themes infused within the story.

As Thor reluctantly recruits the imprisoned Loki for help, Taylor explores the idea of trust and the complexity of brotherly relationships. The dynamic between the two is edgy to say the least and constantly tests the boundaries of brotherhood and familial ties. Thor knows he can't trust his adoptive brother but because of his desperation, he goes against all logic and chooses to rely on Loki. All throughout the film, even the audience is taken for a rollercoaster ride as they are torn over where Loki's true motives lie. Loki, on the other hand, relishes the tension between him and his brother as well as the doubt he's put in Thor's mind and heart.

Speaking of the two brothers, Hemsworth and Hiddleston have such great on-screen chemistry that they make up for the smaller issues I have with the film. The banter and back-and-forth that goes on between Thor and Loki supports the humor that falls flat at times in other scenes. But on a deeper level, Hemsworth and Hiddleston are able to capture the proper emotions that are needed for their tense scenes of shaky brotherhood.

Of course, "The Dark World" has its problems and one of the main issues is that Taylor leaves the audience hanging with various questions left unanswered in the plotline. Early on in the film, Jane runs into Sif, Thor's childhood friend and someone who seems to be romantically interested in Thor. The two women exchange a strange look that hints at a possible conflict between these romantic rivals but after that interaction nothing else happens between the two during the entire movie. On a much smaller scale, I donít understand how such an advanced race as the Asgardians is forced to use more primitive weapons during battle. Their enemies have guns and blasters while the Asgardian troops are shot down while trying to use swords and shields.

Furthermore, Taylor leaves a promising group of characters undeveloped. Sif (Jaimie Alexander), Fandral (Zachari Levi) and Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) are three of Thor's closest friends and help him every step of the way in the film. However, we are told little to nothing about these characters and their brave acts are rewarded with few significant words.

But overall, "Thor: The Dark World" is definitely worth the cost of admission. The costumes and visual effects are brilliant and it seems like Taylor, who has directed episodes of "Game of Thrones", went for a medieval look and a "Lord of the Rings" feel. The fight scenes are exciting and you can feel the impacts, while the movie maintains a certain level of seriousness that legitimizes and instills an air of maturity within the film.

While comic book superheroes have had some duds in the film industry, "Thor: The Dark World" is a sign of the prosperity that should continue for the genre.

Thor: The Dark World is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence and some suggestive content



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