What made 2011’s Thor so mighty was the film had a purpose. It was an introduction to the God of Thunder Thor, and more or less, a stepping stone to the hugely successful 2012 Marvel’s The Avengers. Fast Forward to 2013, and the Marvel Universe introduced everyone to Thor: The Dark World. For simplicity, I’ll refer to Thor: The Dark World in the rest of the review as, TTDW.
What I enjoyed about the first installment of what is seemingly now a trilogy, was that the character Thor was humanized. He is without his powers (or his hammer if you will) in most of the first film. That changes in TTDW. We get a good display of Thor and his might. Upon my first viewing, I thought it was somewhat difficult to follow. Not knowing all the nuances of the characters involved, I felt weighed down watching TTDW. In the end, the action, the humor and the entertaining storyline guided me to enjoying the second installment of Thor.
If you’re not too familiar with the Thor universe, there are a group of villains called the Dark Elves. The Dark Elves are from one of the 9 realms of Norse mythology. Characters like Thor, and Loki hail from the primary realm Asgard, but these dark creatures come from the realm of Svarthalfeim (which was never properly identified in the movie). Before there were the 9 realms, there was only darkness. The Dark Elves are a malevolent race and their intentions are evil.
The Dark Elves are led by the most ruthless Dark Elf called Malakith. As soon as the movie starts, Odin, the King of Asgard gives us a narration of the history of the Dark Elves and Malakith’s quest for power. I never knew of The Dark Elves to be honest so it gave an interesting backdrop, but, viewers got most of the plot of the movie right in the first few minutes. The story was that prior to light, there was only darkness. The Dark Elves were spawned from the darkness and wanted to restore the 9 realms back to darkness.
In order to do that, Malakith and The Dark Elves needed the help of the ‘Aether’. The Aether was created by Malakith and it’s a weapon with infinite life. In Odin’s narration, graciously told by the one and only Anthony Hopkins, Malakith and The Dark Elves attempted to use the Aether to make the universe everlasting dark, once again. Their efforts failed and the Asgardians decided to hide the Aether and against destroying it due to its immense power. This kind of reminds me of Lord of the Rings.
We were introduced to some characters in the first Thor film that made return appearances in TTDW. Thor’s mischievous adopted brother Loki, who with the help of the Tesseract and the Chitauri, tried to take over the world in the Avenger’s, is less on display in TTDW. When Thor and the rest of the Avengers stopped Loki in his quest to take over the world, he was imprisoned for his actions in Asgard. This is why we see him less in TTDW. Although he is shackled and chained, he is still cunning and powerful.
Thor does more soul searching in this installment then in the first film. If you’ve seen the first film, you’ll remember that Odin banished Thor from Asgard to Earth for his irresponsible behavior and actions in the realm of the Frost Giants. While on Earth he is discovered by astrophysicist Jane Foster, played by the beautiful and talented Natalie Portman, and her team Darcy Lewis (played by Kat Dennings) and Erik Selvig (played by Stellan Skarsgard). This team is back for TTDW and not without reason. Thor seems more established in this version compared to the first film and more level headed. He’s not as pompous and life has more meaning than just getting into fights. Jane Foster and Thor fell in love with each other in Thor’s first visit to Earth and he can’t seem to get her off of his mind.
Jane Foster and team are brought back together by changes in astral physical forces, which happened to be the Aether that was so well hidden. The Aether latches itself on to Jane Foster and like a magnet, it attracts the force that is Malakith and the Dark Elves. Will Malakith and the Dark Elves succeed in their attempt to possess the Aether and bring darkness back to the 9 Realms and the rest of the universe, or will Thor thwart their efforts? You’ll have to rent or buy TTDW to find out!
TTDW is encoded with a MPEG-4 MVC video codec, presented in 1080p with a frame rate of 2:40:1, on a 50GB Blu-Ray Disc. The video quality is very accurate and realistic, not overly glossy or other worldly. The details of Malakith’s skin are very well defined just as the creases are on Thor’s forehead. This is a movie about darkness so the cinematography is dark at times, with that said, black levels are really good in TTDW. No visible artifacts or grain were present during the presentation. Just when I thought the picture at times seemed dull in a dark scene, I noticed that the green in Loki’s costume and the Red in Thor’s cape really stood out. There is a good contrast of light and dark colors throughout the film. Overall, TTDW has a solid video transfer.
Compared to the video quality, the audio quality really has some thunder. This disc has a 7.1 DTS-HD MA track, and this is a movie to watch in 7.1. I admittedly only have a 5 channel set up at the present time, in which this sounded stunning, but I can only imagine how this sounds with 7 channels. As it is with 5, the sound is immersive. Thor flying from the sky and crashing to the ground is met with great LFE. The sound pops when he throws or uses his hammer. Even when I turned the volume down a little, the dialogue was still very well defined. There is a great distribution of sound amongst all channels which creates an extremely pleasurable listening experience. This is a demo audio disc without a doubt.
Marvel One-Shot: All Hail The King — This is a documentary about the character Trevor Slattery who was the pseudo Mandarin in Iron Man 3. It takes place in prison in the events that take place after Iron Man 3. I thought this was quite funny. Shot in HD and takes up roughly 14 minutes.
A Brother’s Journey: Thor & Loki – This is a two part feature delving into the kindred, Thor & Loki, the two Asgardian brothers. The crew and cast discuss the meaning of both characters and their relationships together. They discuss the casting decisions behind Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Tom Hiddleston as Loki, and their relationships together as fellow actors. Don’t be fooled by the title though. There is more than just Thor & Loki here though, as the discussion goes into supporting characters, setting and costume design. This is a beefy supplement that it worth watching. Shot in HD and takes up roughly 31 minutes.
Exclusive Look – Captain America: The Winter Soldier – An extended HD trailer of the new edition of Captain America! Cast and crew speak for about 3.5 minutes. Looks very good!
Scoring Thor: The Dark World With Brian Tyler – Brian Tyler speaks about his creative style in TTDW. Brian Tyler’s work on the soundtrack is very nice. The London Philharmonic and Philharmonia played on the music score. Shot in HD for about 5 minutes.
Deleted & Extended Scenes – There are 6 scenes here that can be watched with optional audio commentary if desired. The scenes are as follows: Extended Celebration Scene, Jane Learns About The Aether, Loki: The First Avenger, Thor And Frigga Discuss Loki, Dark Elves Prepare For Battle, and Extended Vanaheim Scene. There was nothing that seemed to stand out in my opinion. All shot in HD and lasting about 8 minutes roughly.
Gag Reel – About 3.5 minutes worth of funny stuff from the outtakes of the filming of TDDW. Shot in HD.
Audio Commentary – You can watch TTDW with audio commentary by Director Alan Taylor, Producer Kevin Feige, Actor Tom Hiddleston, and Cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau.
I love Marvel films, especially the Avengers franchise. What I like about them most is their inter-continuity. Marvel does a great job with this. It makes you want to see the next Avengers franchise film. Compared to other characters that also have their own films (Captain America, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man etc.), Thor seems to be the character most heavily influenced by cosmic mythology. Someone not knowing anything about Thor would have a hard time following this movie. I’m a comic book fan and I gravitate to movies like this, but not everyone who is a comic fan watches these films. With that said, Marvel did a good job with TTDW, for the most part, sticking to the original storyline of the comic.
TTDW has good production value but it’s bogged down by its plot. The storyline jumps around and sometimes it’s hard to fathom the events taking place. Thor is more grounded in TDDW compared to the first rendition but is also less vulnerable. His vulnerability as a human was what brought a lot of humor to the first edition of Thor, and it also made him more easily identifiable to viewers who knew nothing of Thor. In the end, Thor is an extremely likeable character and TTDW is humorous with impressive action when displayed. Another reason why I enjoy the Avengers franchise is because they always leave you wanting more. Don’t forget to stick around for the end credits for a taste of what’s to come in Thor 3!
Buy Thor: The Dark World on Blu-ray HERE