Thor: The Dark World (****1/2)
Thor is a beefcake
Dark elves try to take over
Loki is brilliant
POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD. Although it's not my favorite Marvel: Phase 1 movie, Thor has a special place in my heart for the fact that it introduced Tom Hiddleston's Loki to the masses. It's not my least favorite, either—I think we can all agree that The Incredible Hulk holds that title—I love the way Thor's experience on Earth ties him to the planet and the people of it. (The Avengers certainly wouldn't have been the same without him!)
In Thor: The Dark World, we see the characters we met in Thor in a whole new light; specifically, the light of Asgard. An ancient evil has awoken and is hell bent on returning the universe to the way it was when they were in charge. Thor isn't really fond of the idea, particularly when their agenda threatens Asgard and the people he loves. But, of course, he can't fight them alone, and therefore enlists the help of his (adopted) brother Loki, who still hasn't apologized for that whole Battle of New York thing.
I've been super excited about seeing Thor: The Dark World since the first trailer was released, and let me tell you: It is a gem among sequels. It takes the characters we met in Thor and got to know a little better in The Avengers and makes them ten times better. Sure, Thor is still a bit of an overdramatic oaf, but he's a loveable (and handsome) one. Chris Hemsworth seems so comfortable in the role. Yes, Loki is a total bastard, but his sass and his conflicted nature—and his general Tom Hiddlestonness—make him one of the best villains of all time, and he's wonderfully sneaky in TDW. There's so much more to Loki, and that's showcased nicely in this film. (I might be a tad biased?) The supporting cast are all more interesting as well, considering we've gotten the introductions out of the way and can now just roll with them as they go along.
It was great to see an Avenger off Earth, too. Asgard is gorgeous, and the other realms are equally as impressive. Computer graphics, you guys. I'm so glad we live in the future.
I'm also super pleased and impressed at how well Marvel continues to tie their movies together. The mentions of what happened with Loki in New York didn't seem forced, and there's a moment in the middle of the movie which made me giggle so hard. I won't spoil it for those of you who haven't seen it yet, but those of you who have surely know the scene I'm talking about. The mid-credits scene does a great job of setting up new stuff that's yet to come, too. As a person who appreciates a well thought-out plan, I have to give Marvel serious props for being able to think years in advance so well.
If you've seen the movie, what did you think? If not, you need to, and soon!