Thor Returns To “The Dark World” Of Cinema

thor 2 posterPhase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is well underway with the release of Thor: The Dark World. The sequel to 2011’s Thor stars Chris Hemsworth, reprising his role as the God of Thunder, as well as Tom Hiddleston as Loki–Thor’s treacherous stepbrother, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster–Thor’s human love interest, and Anthony Hopkins as Thor’s father Odin. Joining the cast this time out is Christoher Eccleston as the film’s main heavy, Malekith.

The first Thor movie was unexpectedly rousing and fun thanks to the cast’s performances and expert directing. This time out Alan Taylor takes over the directing duties in this tale that takes place a couple of years after the first Thor movie. Thor and Jane are still separated from each other after the wormhole that first brought the hero to Earth in the first film has been shattered.

Thor: The Dark World introduces us to the Dark Elves, malevolent beings who wanted to use a weapon called the Aether to destroy the universe. Fortunately, the Dark Elves were defeated thousands of years ago by the Thor’s people, the Asgardians. But a handful of Dark Elves and their leader Malekith escaped and went into suspended animation. In the present day, Thor is in his home realm of Asgard and kept from returning to Earth and his love Jane Foster due to obligations. At this time, a space/time anomaly allows portals to open up everywhere and link worlds, including Earth. In London, Jane is unexpectedly sucked into one of these portals. Just as she is sucked into the passageway, Thor comes back to Earth looking for her and eventually reunites with Jane. After they journey to Asgard, she and the Asgardians discover that the ancient Aether weapon is within her.

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Malekith is reawakened after sensing the Aether. Assembling his elven army, he uses this opportunity to attack Asgard to get the weapon and conquer the universe. As the Dark Elves wreck havoc on Thor’s world and threaten Earth, Thor is forced to turn to his imprisoned, hated stepbrother Loki for help in defeating Malekith and his vicious army.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Whereas the first film introduced audiences to Thor’s rich, majestic world that was obviously inspired by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s early comic book stories, Thor: The Dark World presents us an expanded world taken from writer/artist Walt Simonson. Malekith was a supervillain introduced in Thor #344-349, which was during Simonson’s tenure on the title. Using the Dark Elves will please many Thor fans and general audiences who wanted to see something different in this sequel. The villain Kurse appears in this film and he is a faithful recreation from Simonson’s epic run. He looks like he stepped out from the comic books.

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Overall, Thor: The Dark World is an enjoyable, humorous, and exciting adventure. However, it isn’t as satsifying as the first Thor movie. It does have a lot going for it, the special effects are top notch, as is the production design that showcases various worlds that Thor and Malekith battle in during their epic conflict. Regarding the acting, everyone does a fine job but Hiddleston steals each scene he’s in with his portrayal of Loki. Hiddleston simply doesn’t let go of his screentime. It’s clear that he relishes what he is doing and Loki is now the top villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s unfortanate that Malekith can’t compare to that. On paper he is a good villain but he comes as a by-the-numbers foe for Thor that lacks Loki’s gravitas.

The core issues with this film have to do with the feeling that the stakes are high this time out. Sure the universe is imperiled but it’s hard to feel as if there was any danger. We know that Thor and company will prevail, and even an important character death doesn’t have much impact. Adding to that problem is that Thor doesn’t have the emotional journey that he had in the first film. He doesn’t have to learn humility or any other lessons. Here, he’s an obedient son to Odin and is more of a traditional superhero with few faults. But now he doesn’t have that Arthurian journey to undergo.

Still, this is a well-crafted movie that adds to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Be sure to stick around for the two secret endings!

Steven L. Walterson and Lewis T. Grove

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Top 10 Modern Doctor Who Episodes

For us Yanks across the pond the season finale of Doctor Who will air this weekend with “The Wedding of River Song.” That said, let’s look at the ten best episodes from the modern era which started with Christopher Eccleston in 2005 and is running currently with Matt Smith. This list will only include regular episodes, not the Christmas specials and other shows that have popped up over the years.

10. “The Girl in the Fireplace” The Doctor has a brush with romance (aside from the tension between him and Companion Rose Tyler) when he meets Madame de Pompadour via time portals on a derelict spaceship.

9. “The Eleventh Hour” Our first introduction to Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor and Karen Gillan as Amelia “Amy” Pond showed the kismet the two had as partners across time and space.

8. “School Reunion” Old-time companion Sarah Jane Smith (the late Elizabeth Sladen) returns to the Who-verse and it’s a joy to see her holding up quite well; the scenes where she and Rose (Billie Piper) exchange Companion stories were great.

7. “Bad Wolf/The Parting of The Ways” The Ninth Doctor’s swan song is epic without being too overblown and bittersweet while giving us one of the best modern Dalek storylines and radically changes the dynamic of the show.

6. “The Girl Who Waited” This one illustrates the danger of time traveling with the Doctor when Amy enters the wrong door in a planet and winds up trapped for over thirty years waiting for rescue while time passes by normally for her husband Rory (Arthur Darvill) and the Doctor.

5. “Human Nature/The Family of Blood” An amnesiac Doctor hides from predatory aliens out to feed on him by transforming into a human that falls in love; then we are given a glimpse as to how coldly vengeful the Doctor can be when he regains his memories and dispatches them.

4. “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances” When the Ninth Doctor first appeared he was an angry, morose person but here he starts to lighten up in the second part of this creepy World-War-II era episode, which features great visual sights, frights and introduces Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman).

3. “The Doctor’s Wife” This Neil Gaiman-written episode has the TARDIS’ core matrix is transferred by an evil sentient asteroid into Idris (Suranne Jones) an enchanting, attractive woman who is dying. The asteroid transfers its mind into the TARDIS and tortures Amy and Rory as the Doctor and Idris (showing us a rare examination of their relationship) try to recapture the Time Lord’s ship.

2. “Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords” A three-part epic that brings back Jack Harkness from Torchwood and re-introduces the classic Who villain The Master (played first by Derek Jacobi and then with devilish glee by John Simm) who is found literally at the end of time by the Doctor and Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman). Then he is reincarnated into a Tony Blair type of politician who infiltrates modern-day British politics and becomes Prime Minister, instituting a reign of terror.

1. “Blink” Any fan can see that guest star Carey Mulligan’s Sally Sparrow  is a prototype for Amy Pond. She’s pretty, smart, young and quite resourceful when dealing with the best of the new Who villains, the Weeping Angels. They appeared as angelic statues that steal a person’s temporal energy by sending them back in time, which they did to the Doctor and Martha. Trapped in the 1960s, the Doctor communicates to Sally via DVD Easter eggs, and the entire episode is a brilliant use of time travel and genuinely frightening villains. The last few seconds with the Doctor warning viewers not to blink are unforgettable.

José Soto