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Like a runaway train, the Marvel Cinematic Universe refuses to slow down. With each passing year this universe grows, and “Thor: The Dark World” continues that trend. But Chris Hemsworth, despite his abs, isn’t Robert Downey Jr., so how do you justify a second film? It’s simple. Just focus on his rivalry with Loki (Tom Hiddleston) that added real weight to the first film and “Avengers”.
The sequel picks up where “Avengers” and “Thor” left off, with Natalie Portman’s scientist Jane Foster still pining over her godly boyfriend. He hasn’t called because he’s too busy cleaning up the Nine Realms, left in chaos due to Loki’s villainous acts.
When Jane investigates a strange anomaly in London, she finds herself host to a force called the Aether, alerting both Thor and Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), the leader of the Dark Elves, to her presence. Thor brings Jane to Asgard, while Malekith and his henchman Kurse (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) scheme to steal the Aether and plunge the realms into literal darkness.
There’s an interesting plot here, but the first half of the movie spends so much time on set-up that nothing really happens at first. The film really comes to life when Thor springs Loki from jail to help defeat Malekith. Action deftly mixes with comedy as the two brothers bicker back and forth, cementing Loki as the best Marvel character next to Tony Stark. But since Loki oozes charm, villainy, vengeance and regret every time he’s on screen, Malekith comes off as just another villain of the week. His henchman actually seems more threatening.
While the plot is simple and the villain lacking, Thor and Loki’s brotherly love-hate grounds a film that’s otherwise off in the clouds. “Game of Thrones” director Alan Taylor gives Asgard a more Viking feel, and wisely spends much of the time off Earth. The character interactions make this sequel a must-see, and improve on many of the mistakes of the original “Thor”.
Comic fans will delight at the cameos and credit scenes (there are two of them), but audiences will delight at everything else. For the Marvel faithful, this is a must-see. For the common moviegoer, “Thor: The Dark World” is a vastly entertaining sequel that truly brings the thunder.

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