Thor: The Dark World

WRITTEN BY: Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
DIRECTED BY: Alan Taylor
STARRING: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddelston, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Eccleston
RATING: 3.5 stars

The Avengers set the bar so high for people's expectations of the protagonists, that there was always going to be pressure on each of their follow-up individual films. The great thing about Thor: The Dark World is that Chris Hemsworth is amazing, both physically with his masculine presence and with his acting skills. The film also has some great visual effects and is very funny in parts. Importantly, it does not just rely on one character to deliver the comedy, with almost every major character given the chance to be humorous. The down side is that the story is convoluted and unnecessarily complicated to the point where I am not even sure I fully understood every detail. Further, while I can accept that in a Marvel world, things do not have to scientifically make sense, there were parts of the plot that were a little too convenient.

Many years ago, the villainous Dark Elves were banished from Asgard. But centuries later, they return with vengeance. Ruler Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is at a loss as to how to defeat the Dark Elves who want to use the powerful energy source Aether during the forthcoming alignment of the nine realms, including Earth. It is not really clear what evil they are planning. But, coincidentally, astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) absorbs the power, which of course, prompts Thor (Hemsworth) to come to her rescue. Thor is so desperate to find a way to save Jane and defeat the Dark Elves that he turns to his imprisoned brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) for help.

While the film belongs to the charming Hemsworth, Hiddelston almost overshadows him with his cheeky villainous ways. His character has been well developed through three films now and is definitely one of the most well-rounded villains in a superhero film, perhaps aside from Magneto in the X-men franchise. Meanwhile, Christopher Eccleston's villain, Malekith, who leads the Dark Elves is severely under-developed, which is a shame. Portman has an integral role in this film and yet she lacks some much-needed spunk, as does Hopkins who seems to just be going through the motions.

Although he only has two scenes, Chris O'Dowd is hilarious as Jane's new potential suitor. His timing is brilliant. Kat Dennings also returns as Jane's intern and has some good one-liners, but it is Stellan Skarsgard who steals every scene he is in playing astrophysicist Erik Selvig.

Thor: The Dark World ends with a bang and sets up what is to come in the next film with two extra clips during the credits. While this sequel was fun, it was not too special. Even still, I cannot wait to see what happens next.