If you’re a part of Marvel fandom, you’ve probably already seen “Thor: The Dark World” at least once, so this review is superfluous.
If not, fear not—the sequel about the muscle-bound, hammer-toting god still has plenty of thrills and battles for the masses.
This film’s story begins thousands of years ago, with a “Lord of the Rings”-esque battle between the Asgardians and the Dark Elves. The Dark Elves are almost all destroyed, and their indestructible weapon, the aether, is locked away.
In present day, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), is darting between the Nine Realms, ending the wars and destruction that came about after the first movie. Meanwhile, on Earth, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), is still looking for Thor despite him disappearing for two years. And when her scientific equipment begins showing quantum anomalies, she can’t help but investigate, with Darcy (Kat Denning) and new intern Ian (Jonathan Howard) in tow.
Her investigation leads to her being sucked through a portal to the hiding place of the aether, which quickly dives into her body as a means of escape from its prison. The release of the aether brings Thor, who believes it is endangering her, and awakens Malakith (Christopher Eccleston), the leader of the Dark Elves who escaped his people’s devastating battle.
Thor brings Jane back to Asgard to see what can be done to help her, where she is promptly turned away by Odin (Anthony Hopkins), but her expulsion is delayed by Malakith’s arrival.
In the aftermath of the ensuing battle, Thor and Odin disagree on how to proceed next, and Thor risks treason by executing his plan, aided by Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Fandral (Zachary Levi), Sif (Jaimie Alexander), Heimdall (Idris Elba) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who has been imprisoned for his crimes from “The Avengers.” Together, they try to stop Malakith from destroying all nine of the realms and bringing darkness to the universe.
The script has the same snap as the first, and the story is fairly easy to grasp. Unfortunately, this also means that most of the characters’ drives are pretty simple (Jane: “I miss Thor.” Malakith: “What do we want? The universe! When do we want it? Now!”), but the lack of some complexity with some is made up for with the relationship between Loki and Thor. Hiddleston is at his finest here, and the characters are believable in their twisted, complicated relationship of simultaneously being brothers and enemies.
Although there are plenty of ties to both “Thor” and “The Avengers”—Loki’s imprisonment, Thor’s relationships with Jane and his father, the sad state of now-mad scientist Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard)—the film doesn’t rely on prior knowledge to tell its tale.
A familiarity with the world and its characters does reward viewers, though, with little nods to prior events or a cameo or two. Stick around through the credits, too, for two separate end scenes: one after the animated credits, and the other after the considerably longer conventional credits.
All in all, the second “Thor” is another decent installment into the Marvel universe.