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Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 12:01 am

Marvel formula alive and well in rollicking Thor 2


Without question, Marvel Films has fashioned an effective formula where bringing its superheroes to the big screen is concerned. Each of these adventures sport intelligently written scripts, are impeccably cast, contain the proper balance of action, pathos and humor and are rendered with the best special effects millions upon millions of dollars can buy. What with the billions the studio’s films have made and the mostly positive critical response they’ve received, producer Kevin Feige has wisely adopted the “if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it” approach to the many sequels and crossovers that have been made since Iron Man and will hopefully stay this course for years to come.

All of these elements are firmly in place to great effect in Thor: The Dark World, a rollicking sequel that improves on the God of Thunder’s first big-screen adventure. The enemy in question is a malevolent race known as the Dark Elves, led by Malekith (Christopher Eccelston), who’ve come to exact revenge on Asgard for past wrongs. Meanwhile, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is more than a bit distracted, pining for earth woman Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) who inadvertently becomes embroiled in her love’s latest quest when she stumbles upon something that Malekith desperately needs. That he has to take his half-brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) as an ally only complicates matters.

While the film does get off to a slow start hobbled by dense narrative exposition it quickly rights itself. Directed by TV veteran Alan Taylor, the film effortlessly switches gears, going from moments of grand spectacle to quiet scenes of heartbreak without breaking stride. There’s a confidence at play here whether it be in composing a grand, somber funeral for a main character and hundreds of other fallen warriors, or during the rousing, humorous climax that has the characters, monsters, jet planes and car keys falling through portals that have opened between nine different worlds. It’s all great fun and proves that far from overstaying its welcome, the Marvel superhero franchise continues to delight viewers by giving them exactly what they want without ever taking themselves too seriously.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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