The sequel to 2011’s “Thor,” the flashier “Thor: The Dark World” introduces the threat of elf leaderMalekith (Christopher Eccleston), who plagues the titular Norse Thunder God (Chris Hemsworth) and his allies, if a little underwhelmingly.
Unlike the first film, “The Dark World” shows more of Asgard, and the other realms are briefly glimpsed. Some time after the Avengers’ victory in last year’s massively successful film, Thor and his trickster brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) are back in their home dimension, the latter finally imprisoned for his crimes. Thor and their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), however, are soon confronted by the unrelenting Malekith, who once fought their Asgardian ancestors and is after a long-lost weapon.
This Alan Taylor-directed sequel brings back Thor’s supporting cast, giving them a bit more to do. Jane (Natalie Portman) still pines and is more inquisitive than usual. Offsetting her serious demeanor is her flippant intern Darcy (Kat Dennings), familiarly the comic relief once again. The Asgardian warriors get to join the somewhat complicated fracas and are prominent this time, their personalities actually discernible, at last. That includes Thor's mother Frigga, played by the oddly cast Rene Russo, but the character gets to figure in some defining scenes.
The look of the sequel is more scifi than fantasy, though, which can be a little disappointing. Malekith’s ships are too “Star Wars”-y, and some Asgardian weapons look like they’re firing laser bolts. Asgard is also just an antiseptic, artificial environment with little connection to designs that supposedly inspired the Vikings. While the digitally rendered sets look spectacular, they’re not as majestic or glorious as they could’ve been.
Thor’s story progresses although it’s more of a rehash of his bonding with his adoptive planet and his mortal lover. It really is a simple adventure; the epic duel is pretty typical, predictably big and thunderous—but the ultimate outcome is fun and intriguing. In any case, there are two epilogues; one is shown during the middle of the end credits (this teaser will please comics diehards), while the other is at the very end (it’s… okay). There’s more “Thor” to come, and it will be interesting to see the Avengers’ cinematic mythology expand even further.