Marvel’s demigod sequel soars

Previously printed in the UVU Review.

Thor-The-Dark-World-Poster-003“Iron Man 3” opened up a huge summer of blockbusters with its action, humor and superhero aesthetics that can only be found in a Disney Marvel movie. Although Robert Downey Jr. set a high bar for the Avengers Phase 2, somehow Chris Hemsworth and the “Thor” crew took it as a challenge.

2011’s “Thor” served as a launching pad for the title character. It was a simple story of a strong-headed demi-god who is humbled by mortality and love. Even though it wasn’t the strongest movie pre-Avengers, it was essential to know his origins and what Thor (Chris Hemsworth) values and why.

“Thor: the Dark World” begins a couple of years after the events of “The Avengers.” Thor is busy watching over the nine realms with his hammer, Mjolnir, and his might. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is imprisoned in Asgard for his failed attempt to enslave and rule the people of Earth.

To gain revenge and the state before time, Dark Elves, lead by Malkith (Christopher Eccleston), attempt to find the “aether,” which was hidden by Odin’s (Anthony Hopkins) father a millennia ago. Luckily, the aether finds its way into Thor’s love interest Jane Foster’s (Natalie Portman) veins. Simultaneously, Foster acts as the boon and damsel in distress.

Yes, the plot sounds ridiculous, but the way it is told is never overbearing or confusing. It slowly guides you from plot point to plot point by the hand which any viewer can appreciate.

The visual effects are the most stunning in most of the Marvel films. In a fully realized Asgard, the action sequences reflect a blend of “Lord of the Rings” and “Star Wars” prequels kinetic joy. Director Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones) handles fight scenes and fast paced aerial shots with care and cohesiveness.

There are many bait and switch moments which act as major plot devices, but you can’t really be upset about them because the movie makers tell you time after time to watch out for them. You can tell that the screenwriters (Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely) love and respect the source material and are having a blast with it.

No good superhero movie is without its humor, and “Dark World” is brimming with it. Some of the humor it is out of place and some doesn’t land right, but when it does it hits hard. You will walk out with countless “remember this part” moments with your friends to laugh about later. The humor doesn’t diminish the hard hitting drama when it delivers.

Where the movie truly shines is when Loki finally teams up with Thor. Hiddleston’s Loki brings charisma and tension to the screen to balance Thor’s stiffness with great ease. The two create remarkable sibling chemistry that only a guy with a brother can fully appreciate.

Marvel is only one of Disney’s powerhouses that turn out hit after hit, but it’s safe to say that they have overtaken Pixar as their safe moneymaker. In the last few years Pixar has lost its place as Disney’s favorite poster boy with their less than impressive “Brave,” and “Cars 2” movies.

In the last two summers, Marvel has released two huge hits that joined the billion dollar club: “The Avengers” and “Iron Man 3” and don’t seem to be letting up. As hard as it is to say: Marvel is the new Pixar.

Like most of the Avengers movies, “Dark World” furnishes the right mixture of CGI, compelling charaters, stakes, action, adventure, romance and geek fandom into a compressed package. If this is any indication of the Phase 2, then we have our expectations for April’s “Captain America: the Winter Soldier” sky high

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