The Marvel universe continues its post Avengers box office domination with Thor: The Dark World, a mildly entertaining romp to say the least. This time around, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) battles the Dark Elves and their spectacularly boring leader Malekith (Christopher Eccleston). The Elves are searching for The Aether, a fluid substance that turns light matter to dark, and can only be found every five thousand years when the nine realms are aligned. Insert Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Thor's human gal pal discovers The Aether and becomes target numero uno for the baddies. Thor takes her to Asgard for protection, but vastly underestimates the powers of his enemy. He is forced into a dangerous alliance with his criminal brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), to combat this new threat.
Thor: The Dark World, for all of its 'dark' connotation, is fairly lighthearted. There are a few stabs at drama, but the overall tone of the film is that of a breezy adventure. Kat Dennings, dialing in her sitcom performance, and Stellan Skarsgard reprise their characters from the first film with comic effect. I actually found myself laughing out loud several times from their shenanigans. The goofiness of the secondary cast sort of overtakes any kind of dread inspired by the universe-ending exploits of the Elves. They may be the least threatening villains we've seen in a comic adaptation. There isn't a millisecond where their fate is in any doubt.
Much like the first film, all the meaningful parts take place on Asgard. Director Alan Taylor and the screenwriters do a better than average job exposing Thor's home world. Asgard is vividly depicted, as is Thor's place in its society. He is expected to take the ruler reins from Odin (Anthony Hopkins), but isn't quite ready to be king; having sipped from the trough of the spritely Jane Foster. Her presence on Asgard has a soap opera subplot as the Queen (Rene Russo) and Sif (Jaimie Alexander) size up the gal that has stolen Thor's heart.
Tom Hiddleston steals every scene as the contemptuous Loki. His acid tongue smarminess continues to be fantastic entertainment. Loki has a few tricks up his sleeve here, which aren't entirely surprising, but delightful to see. Hiddleston relishes Loki and immerses himself in the character. While Hemsworth is buff and brooding as Thor, Hiddleston brings a suave nuance to the performance. We get a deeper dynamic between the brothers that is far more interesting than the romantic relationship between the leads.
Fans will certainly like this film. The characters are familiar and we do enjoy seeing a continuation of the story. The biggest reveals of Thor: The Dark World comes when the credits roll. There are two, that's right - two, additional scenes when the movie ends that set-up a new storyline. Also look out for some cameos from Stan Lee and everyone's favorite super soldier. Thor: The Dark World is a decent enough sequel. I can't say I was disappointed by anything, but I do hope the next Thor film will be a bit more substantial.