"I was the original MC Hammer!" The titular character (Chris Hemsworth) prepares to make his next strike against the Dark Elves with his trusty weapon Mjolnir in a scene from director Alan Taylor's take on Marvel's latest comic book-to-big-screen endeavor, THOR: THE DARK WORLD. Credit © 2013 Marvel Studios. All Rights Reserved. 


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Christoper Eccleston, Jaimie Alexander, Ray Stevenson, Kat Dennings, Idris Elba, Rene Russo, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Stellan Skarsgård

WRITER(S): Christopher L Yost and Christopher Markus (screenplay); Don Payne and Robert Rodat (story) based on characters created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby

DIRECTOR(S): Alan Taylor

60 SECOND PLOT SYNOPSIS (OR AS CLOSE TO IT AS ONE CAN TRY TO MAKE): Try to follow along as best one can ... Picking up on the events following The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World finds our titular hero (Chris Hemsworth) back at his native Aasgard where his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), along with his wife Frigga (Rene Russo), is looking to pass the throne to him. And while his now-captive adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) would kill (literally) for a chance to be king, Thor is happy to simply go to battle with his friends Volstagg (Ray Winstone) and Sif (Jaimie Alexander) while Heimdall (Idris Elba) keeps watch while he is away.

Back on Midgard – or "Earth,æ as you perhaps know it better – Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is trying to get used to life without her muscled superhero/would-be boyfriend, even going out on dates again much to the delight of her energetic intern Darcy (Kat Dennings). Darcy has her own intern, Ian (Jonathan Howard), at her side now, too, which comes in handy since her and Jane's mutual friend/mentor Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) has gone a bit loony talking about the alignment of the nine realms ...

Dr. Selvig, hasn't gone loony, however – he's speaking the truth (albeit in an unconventional fashion) ... And Malekith (Christopher Eccelston), leader of the long-thought dead Dark Elves from the planet of Svartalfheim, seeks to return the universe to complete darkness once he is awakened from his slumber.

That unfortunate bit of information forces Thor back into action to save Aasgard, Earth and the entire universe at any cost – even if it means putting a sibling rivalry on hold in the process ...

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST?: Comic book nerds; people who liked the first Thor film; people who didn't like the first Thor film but liked The Avengers; Natalie Portman fans; Kat Dennings fans; people who like romance thrown in with their superhero movies

WHO WON'T LIKE THIS FILM?: People who aren't familiar with the Marvel Universe (in either print or film) and find the story confusing; people who find Kat Dennings annoying; those with short attention spans; those who don't "get" the whole superhero thing in general; those who think too much about possible plot holes

BOTTOM LINE – IS IT GOOD, GREAT, BAD OR DOWNRIGHT AWFUL? Save for the original Spider-Man 2 (ironic word choice, I know); Thor: The Dark World is perhaps the best of Marvel Studios' sequels to date – and an enjoyable mix of action, romance and suspense for the money.

WHAT'S GOOD (OR BAD) ABOUT IT?: The first Thor did its main job: Introducing the last of the four "major"Avengers characters so that Marvel could roll out its biggest film to date in the summer of 2012. But in doing so, it was rather, well, boring, compared to the adventures of the other three superheroes in the unit. While Loki was interesting, it would not be until the aforementioned Avengers movie that he would really come into great play and Hiddleston would become one of the best movie villains in years.

Thankfully, The Dark World pits Thor against an even more satisfying, scene-stealing Loki thanks to yet another phenomenal performance by Hiddleston, an intriguing new threat, a good mix of action, comedy and drama and – last but certainly not least – a good showing by its lead actor and his mighty hammer.

It's really hard to say enough about how good Hiddleston is as the trickster that is Loki; while some might find it ridiculous to equate his performance to that of Heath Ledger's in The Dark Knight, others (yours included) would not as he brings a Shakesperian-level of quality and energy to the role. Hemsworth is no slouch mind you; it's just that Loki drives the movie in every scene he's in, keeping your attention even in limited capacity.

Of course, a strong performance by the cast as a whole helps in doing that, too, as the multiple story line issues – rivalry (sibling and suitor, both male and female), the lure of power vs. what is right, good vs. evil, etc.) plays a strong role in enhancing the quality of The Dark World as another solid Marvel entry. Hemsworth exhibits a good combination of humor, heart and strength – all of which come into play with Eccleston (solid as the unflinching unstoppable force coming down the path), Portman (who plays the damsel in distress well) and Hopkins/Elba, the latter two serving as influences on his moral conscious.

Credit is due to director Alan Taylor; for while Kenneth Branaugh's Thor played out like a classical stage play, Taylor's is more fast-paced and action-packed without losing its spirit or intelligence – which is no easy task. In keeping the balance, he delivers a film that should satisfy both hardcore comic book readers and modern movie audiences of all ages in making a film that packs a wallop – and should pack theaters.



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