Thor: The Dark World ***1/2

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“Thor: The Dark World” is the latest entry in to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is a sequel to 2011’s “Thor” and picks up right after the events of 2012’s “The Avengers”. This movie is a vast improvement over the original. I was happy to find that almost all of the story takes place mostly off of Earth. Large scale battles take place over the fantasy city of Asgard and other alien worlds. To be subjected to more super hero tales that take place in urban cities might be punishment at this point.

As the film opens, Loki, Thor’s villainous brother, is being put in an Asgardian prison for all time after being found guilty of his crimes back on earth. Somewhere else in the galaxy an ancient enemy known as the Dark Elves. Long ago they battled Thor’s grandfather for the fate of the universe. They tried to gain access to an ancient weapon but were foiled and were mostly destroyed. Only the evil Malekith and his minions survived and went in to hiding in deep space. Now that the nine realms are about to align, which apparently only happens once every few thousand years.

The realms aligning is known as the Convergence. This causes some strange anomalies on earth including worm holes and sporadic fields of zero gravity. This draws the attention of Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who inadvertently absorbs a dangerous energy source that draws the attention of Thor as well as the Dark Elves.

The Dark Elves are a fearsome race. Malekith, their leader, played by Christopher Eccleston, is a much more interesting villain than Loki, who simply came off as a bit of a winer in the first film. Malekith tests Thor both physically and psychologically.

I have enjoyed every film in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe so far. I am grateful that we are in the middle of their second phase. With the exception of “The Avengers”, I found myself weary of all the origin stories. It is refreshing to come in to a sequel where the world has been established and the creators can focus on telling a more interesting story.

“Thor: The Dark World” opens up a whole new cosmic chapter of the Marvel series. It also contains a little nugget at the end that teases the upcoming “Guardians Of The Galaxy”, which I am very excited for.

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