Starring : Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Eccleston, Jamie Alexander, Zachary Levi, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, Idris Elba, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgard
Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is still pining away for her absent Viking warrior and can't seem to concentrate upon anything, or anyone, else. Interrupted while on a date, that isn't going so well, by her comic relief intern Darcy (Kat Dennings) who just might have found an energy signature matching Bifrost in London, Foster and company stumble upon a hidden weapon of unspeakable power hidden away for 5000 years that Malekith of The Dark Elves (sworn enemies of our universe-since they existed before it was made) would use to destroy all of reality as we know it. Shortly, Thor, Odin, Malekith, and even Loki become entangled in a comedy tinged tragedy of familial ties, ultimate sacrifice, ambition, heroism. Thor The Dark World isn't Shakespeare, but it's not bad for a superhero flick, and in some ways, it's almost just as rewarding.
The tension between Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is one of the best family feuds to ever hit a big budget, big screen comic book adaptation/action film genre, and it's only a part of the plot in Thor The Dark World. Overcoming it's Lord of The Rings: Fellowship of The Ring aping opening (where we do get to see Odin's awesome father Bor brought to life) and it's slightly convoluted introduction to the impending Great Conjunction of the Nine Realms (and plot device), Thor: TDW launches into stratospheric heights of flights and fancy that leave the moviegoer both visually stimulated (and not just by all the beautiful people starring in the film) and emotionally engaged. The emotional engagement doesn't really grasp the viewer until the beginning of the film's third act though. Tom Hiddleston's Loki is that rare big name villain. His superb acting makes for the most sympathetic and charismatic mass murdering egomaniac since Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter, and there's plenty to get gushy over concerning Loki at the beginning of said third act.
Director Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones, Mad Men) tackles one of the most daunting directorial jobs of his career and brings to life a universe spanning tale of action, adventure, and intrigue that rivals the best of the Marvel Studios films and even bests a few of them (Captain America: The First Avenger and Iron Man 2 especially). The great costume design, and longer time spent in the realms outside of Midgard help. Svaralfheim and Asgard conversely shimmer and glower, and the small snippets of the rest of the realms, including a boiling, lava strewn Hel, are quite eye catching. Taylor does more than showcase exotic and magical realms effectively though. His action choreography (suspiciously similar in style to Zack Snyder's Man of Steel action choreography-after all Thor is, more or less, the Marvel U's Superman) is impeccable. I'm willing to bet that he didn't have to work too hard to coax the excellent acting performances out of Hemsworth, Hiddleston, Portman, Dennings, and Skarsgard though. They all are revisiting characters they've played before (some of them more than once already) and Dennings has even had more time to develop her comedic timing since she's been starring in Two Broke Girls over the past few years. Along with Hiddelston though, it is Skarsgard who steals the show in his scenes. His slightly raving, but harmlessly loveable, lunacy (he appears to be having a bit of a hard time rationalizing all he's been through) is brilliant.
Overall, Thor The Dark World is a thoroughly enjoyable second entry into the Thor franchise, and a worthy entry into the Marvel Second Wave films. There's very little to dislike, and tons to love in the film. Whether you're a fan of Thor, Marvel Comics, or just plain old good action adventure films with heart, you'll most likely love Thor The Dark World.