By Marc S. Sanders

Like Louis Letterier’s The Incredible Hulk, director Alan Taylor’s Thor: The Dark World is a very underrated installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It focuses on a lot of humor with well edited action and moments that allow all the major players to offer up good material.

First Chris Hemsworth as Thor. Yeah, he’s doing the same thing and that’s fine. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Moving on… This is an important chapter in the MCU, as it introduces the second of the legendary Infinity Stones, the red Aether, which consumes Thor’s love interest from Earth, Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman. Fortunately, it provides better writing for Portman to play with. She really is the MacGuffin of the film, and she works as a story device to explore more of Asgaard, one of the best set pieces in all of the Marvel films. Jane uncovers the mysterious stone, or rather liquid, that has been hidden away for centuries; this is all Lord Of The Rings stuff. Once she finds the stone and is consumed with it, then the film segues into its originality.

Apparently, it’s not good if the Aether is used for destruction while the Nine Realms are in Convergence, which we are told happens every 5,000 years. What is Convergence? Well, that’s where it’s fun to watch Thor: The Dark World. The Nine Realms line up, literally like a rainbow of circles stacking on top of one another. It’s really cool to look at. What’s more fun is how Jane and her crew drop random objects into an open space within a deserted London warehouse and then it disappears, and then drops back down to them from above their heads. Sometimes, they drop something, only the objects don’t return at all. I like all of this stuff, because it’s all visual and ultimately that is what movies are about. Showing us something. Asgaard, The Convergence, Thor’s swing of his hammer, the Aethar, it’s all fun to see. I’ll credit Alan Taylor’s direction for a lot of this. He’s shown great achievements in Game Of Thrones. He carries his visions over to Thor’s universe.

Next is the villain is Malekeith, the head of the Dark Elves, with some really wicked looking makeup, and it only gets more wicked as he progressively gets more powerful. He wants to get the Aether and bring the Nine Realms into Darkness. Christopher Eccleston (best known for G.I. Joe; that should tell you something) takes on this role which is nothing special. I don’t care so much about the villain in this film as I do about the conflict of the story. The conflict is the real treat. Eccleston is nothing special. He’s not bad. He’s not good. He’s just nothing special. Moving on…

Tom Hiddleston is back as the trickster Loki, one of the best written characters in all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The script gives him a lot to play with and opportunities to irritate and antagonize Thor who reluctantly recruits his assistance. “Well done. You just decapitated your grandfather.” See the movie (again?) and you’ll love the timing of this line. Hiddleston has fun with the levity of Loki but there is a sad central story to the adopted son of Odin. During his first appearance in the film, following his incision of the New York alien invasion from The Avengers, Loki is arrested in chains to stand before his father, and Hiddleston clicks his heels together at attention, giving a serious grimace before declaring “I really don’t see what all the fuss is about.” Hiddleston continues to work and develop at this favorite character who remains tricky and unpredictable. I love it.

Anthony Hopkins is back as Odin, Thor’s father. Yeah, he’s doing the same thing and that’s fine. Again, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Moving on…

There’s a lot of fantastic sci fi and fantasy sequences to this film and from a CGI perspective, it’s artistically beautiful. It’s just a fun ride of exploration. Thor was never a favorite comic book character of mine growing up. The MCU opened my eyes to something special in his adventures and those that surround him. It’s even great when Thor jumps on the tube to return to a battle in Greenwich Village. I’m expecting some energetic debate on my feelings towards this film. Bring it on and I’ll match you. As Thor might say after his hammer turns a giant rock monster to rubble, “Anyone else?”

Reader, if I can quote this film three times in a review that should tell you how much I love Thor: The Dark World.

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