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Thor: The Dark World(2013)
Exploring Thor's relationship with the Asgardian all-father Odin, as well earthbound companion Jane Foster, “Thor: The Dark World” follows the God of Thunder to The Nine Realms beyond Asgard and earth. And as his evil half-brother, Loki, returns for Asgardian justice, a new threat rises. Also rejoining Thor are his fellow Asgardians, Lady Sif, gatekeeper Heimdall and Warriors Three, as they encounter mythical Norse creatures among evildoers.
For more about Thor: The Dark World and the Thor: The Dark World Blu-ray release, see Thor: The Dark World Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on February 6, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Anthony Hopkins
Director: Alan Taylor
» See full cast & crew
Thor: The Dark World Blu-ray Review
"You must be truly desperate to come to me for help! What makes you think you can trust me?"
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, February 6, 2014
With Thor, we were given access to the heavens but too often remained firmly planted on Earth. With The Avengers, we witnessed the full fury of forces beyond our known universe... from the streets of Manhattan. However, with director Alan Taylor's Thor: The Dark World, Marvel Studios finally says to hell with it, bids the Big Blue a fairly significant farewell and grants fans of the Nine Realms the cosmic clash of the titans they've been waiting for. Yes, Taylor's action-packed sequel still makes one too many return trips to Earth, with London-based bookends and interludes. This isn't Guardians of the Galaxy. (Yet!) But for the first time, Marvel seems confident in journeying off world; the studio's carefully laid, meticulously executed plans coming, at long last, to fruition. Creating a shared saga was only Phase One. Phase Two is all about testing how far audiences are willing to allow Marvel to drift from the safety and security of standard superhero fare. And ye gods be praised, the masses are, at least for the moment, more than eager to follow Hollywood's hottest subsidiary studio wherever it leads. For those complaining that every superhero movie is the same as the last, prepare yourselves for the weird, wild reaches of the Marvel Universe. Thor, The Avengers and, really, The Dark World is only the beginning.
With Loki (Tom Hiddleston) imprisoned for crimes committed in Midgard and peace and order restored to the Nine Realms, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns to Asgard triumphant. His father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), sees in his son a worthy successor; his mother, Frigga (Rene Russo), a boy who's finally become a man; and his companions -- Lady Sif (Jamie Alexander), Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Fandral (Zachary Levi) and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano) -- a noble warrior, tireless friend and honorable prince. But peace is once again threatened when Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is possessed by a sinister energy weapon called the Aether, a vindictive Dark Elf named Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) is roused from deep space hibernation, attacks the Asgardian capital and leaves nothing but death and heartache in his wake. Determined to save Jane from the Aether and stop Malekith at all costs, Thor elicits the help of Sif, the Warriors Three and Bifrost guardian Heimdall (Idris Elba), recruits and frees his disgraced brother Loki, and gives chase. Elsewhere, on Earth, Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) and feisty intern Darcy (Kat Dennings) begin to notice an alarming increase in strange phenomena as they near an event dubbed the Convergence; a once-in-a-millennia alignment of the Nine Realms Malekith plans to exploit to annihilate everything in existence.
The trouble with Thor, much as I enjoy it, is that so much time is devoted to mythos justification and superpower-stripped moping. The film establishes a world of far-flung realms well worth exploring and a terrific (and terrifically assembled) cast of characters, and what's one of the first things it does? Spend the better part of its runtime with a powerless hero stranded on Earth who passes time yanking on a hammer that's stuck in the ground. In their defense, Marvel and Kenneth Branagh weren't exactly sure anyone would buy into a flick about ancient Norse space-gods wielding magic weapons against ice giants and fire-spewing Destroyer droids. And despite all its shortcomings, Thor is still a great little film; one that rather thanklessly laid crucial groundwork for everything that came after. The Dark World, though, isn't mired in such necessary spoon-feeding evils. Taylor's sequel charges into battle boldly and valiantly, brandishing Dark Elves, space ships, dimensional portals, fiery berserkers, Asgardian campaigns, stone behemoths, intergalactic prisons and castle sieges. All in the first forty-five minutes, no less. Taylor doesn't waste any time waiting for newcomers to catch up, much less keep up. Like The Avengers, The Dark World demands you either get on board or look for another ride.
It's also a more rewarding successor to The Avengers than Iron Man 3, as it more directly and effectively deals with the aftermath of Loki's invasion of New York. Marvel could have shelved the series' resident Trickster or, worse, made him the primary antagonist of a third film. But the studio that Jack and Stan built is much smarter than that. Taking the path least chosen, Marvel introduces additional complexity and duality to Loki's character; a move typically attributed to more "serious cinema." And yet that's precisely what The Dark World and screenwriters Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely pull off. Hiddleston's Loki is infinitely more interesting than before, and he was already one of the MCU's biggest scene stealers. Hemsworth ups his game as well with a more three-dimensional, slightly less humorless Thor than we've seen, complementing Hiddleston's colorful flourishes and outbursts grimace for grimace and grin for grin. Together -- or in the company of Hopkins' Odin, Elba's Heimdall, Russo's Frigga, Alexander's Sif, Stevenson's Volstagg or Eccleston's Malekith, all of whom turn in excellent performances -- the brothers are simultaneously a perfectly compatible and perfectly disastrous odd couple, and the implied history they share is more palpable than ever. Make no mistake: whenever the film drifts from Thor and Loki's sides, it does so at its own peril.
If the sequel errs it's in its ever-fluctuating tone. Marvel remains intent on keeping things relatively light in the MCU and avoiding the oppressive darkness of series like Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. And more power to 'em. (Even if the irony of the film's title won't escape anyone.) I'll be the first to admit it's nice to have fun with a superhero movie every now and again rather than being dragged along behind a quasi-realistic adaptation of a wholly unrealistic story. (Engrossing and masterfully made as Nolan's films are, they're intentionally heavy and joyless.) Still, Thor's second go-round is a bit too erratic, bounding between tragedy and comedy with something resembling a disregard for emotional resonance. It occasionally even feels as if several key transitional scenes were left on the cutting room floor. Pacing and storytelling receive a boost in the breakneck department, sure, but it isn't always for the best. One particularly devastating blow in Asgard and its subsequent fallout are immediately followed by scenes of comic relief in a British mental hospital. The shift is jarring and could have easily been alleviated had Taylor and editors Dan Lebental and Wyatt Smith simply added a few brief minutes between such disparate beats.
That said, any ensuing whiplash is more a product of Marvel over-exerting its control than of Taylor's original vision going awry. Lest ye forget, the studio ordered last-minute re-shoots to inject more humor into the mix after determining The Dark World was, erm, too dark. (Bleed over from Taylor's work with Game of Thrones no doubt.) Fortunately, Taylor is absolved of any sins the second he hurries back to Asgard and the Nine Realms, returning the focus of the story where it belongs: on Thor and Loki rather than Erik and Darcy. The result? There's plenty of fun to be had, not to mention Shakespearean drama, beautifully written brotherly conflict, grand battles and a rich expansion of Thor and Loki's individual arcs that make The Dark World a full-fledged sequel instead of Thor 1.5 or an epilogue to The Avengers. Does it top the first Thor? In many ways, yes. In some ways, not quite. (Jane irritates, the final showdown is interrupted by humans dabbling in rickety junk science, a love triangle is introduced only to be promptly abandoned, and the Darcy hand is overplayed.) Even so, the Thor series continues to churn out some of the MCU's most delightful surprises. I can't wait to see where Odin's boys go next. Hopefully farther and farther away from Earth with each new entry in the franchise.
Thor: The Dark World Blu-ray, Video Quality
Thor: The Dark World charges the field of battle with a striking 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer every bit as impressive as other Marvel movie presentations. Taylor's London is overcast and rather colorless, but Asgard and the Nine Realms are teeming with dusky, golden hues, piercing primaries, beautifully saturated skintones, and fittingly unforgiving comic-ink blacks. Contrast doesn't falter either (although it does come on a tad strong), nor is crush really a significant issue, despite the shadowy, impenetrable depths of locales like Malekith's command ship. Detail wows at every turn regardless, with crisp edges free of ringing or aliasing, exceedingly well-resolved fine textures unhindered by aberrant noise, and excellent delineation (given the appropriately dark circumstances). Scenes set on Malekith's homeworld, Svartalfheim, are bleak, desolate and a bit murky, yes. A hint of softness even creeps in. But it's all in keeping with Taylor and cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau's intentions and the visual tone the filmmakers bring to the war-torn Realm. And with a pristine encode that isn't subject to macroblocking, banding or any other anomalies that might prove distracting, The Dark World delivers yet another Marvel Cinematic Universe Blu-ray presentation worthy of high praise.
Thor: The Dark World Blu-ray, Audio Quality
If The Dark World's battle sequences don't test your gear's mettle, the devastation of the film's thunderous, world-invasion third act certainly will. Disney's DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track is outstanding, brimming with the sort of sonic punch, power and precision every Marvel movie audiophile lives for. LFE output goes big and goes bold, dispensing Earth-rocking explosions, merciless implosions and metal-rending impacts, all of which boast terrific low-end presence and prowess. The rear speakers come alive as well, filling the soundfield with whizzing ships, energy blasts, angry behemoths and fierce warriors. Directionality is dead on. Pans are wonderfully transparent. And the experience is as immersive and involving as they come. All the while, dialogue is clear, intelligible and nicely prioritized. No mishaps or issues whatsoever. The Dark World sounds even better than it looks, making for a top notch AV presentation all around.
Thor: The Dark World Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Thor: The Dark World Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Free from the shackles that bound the first film, Thor: The Dark World is a brisker, more refined and more satisfying Asgardian adventure bolstered by a sharp, crafty screenplay and another round of first rate performances. Hiddleston steals the show yet again, but Hemsworth is no slouch, adding welcome depth and dimension to a hero who could easily be all too flat. Bring on Thor 3. Disney's Blu-ray release, meanwhile, is a must-own title for any Marvel movie geek. With a first class video presentation, incredible DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track and full complement of special features, The Dark World comes highly recommended.
Thor: The Dark World: Other Editions
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Thor: The Dark World Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Marvel's Thor: The Dark World - Blu-ray Featurette Clip - February 24, 2014
Disney and Marvel Studios have released a clip from a new featurette with composer Brian Tyler, which will be included on the upcoming Thor: The Dark World 2D Blu-ray and 3D Combo Pack releases. In the United States, the two releases will be available for purchase ...
• This Week on Blu-ray: February 25-March 4 - February 23, 2014
For the week of February 25th, Warner Home Entertainment is bringing the Academy-Award nominated Gravity to Blu-ray. Other titles include Paramount's Nebraska disc, Disney and Marvel's Thor: The Dark World, and Criterion's release of the great - and graphic - ...
• Thor: The Dark World Blu-ray (Updated) - January 2, 2014
Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Home Entertainment have officially announced the 3D and 2D Blu-ray releases of director Alan Taylor's Thor: The Dark World, starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Rene Russo, ...
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