I've had some issue with Marvel Studios as of late. While their desire to be faithful to their characters has remained a high point in their cinematic universe, I feel that the departures from that have been made with less than enjoyable results. As some you know, I didn't enjoy Iron Man 3, at all really. It had hopes in the beginning, but turned into "Lethal Iron Weapon Man" and took some liberates with the character that slapped us enthusiasts in the face.
That being said, Kevin Fiege's latest endeavor, Thor: The Dark World, is a refreshing return to the fantastical side of Marvel's superhero saga. And while some critics have described it as mediocre, I found Dark World's success mainly in it's tone: the film knew what it wanted to be and stuck with that, instead of trying to ride multiple genres at once (I'm looking at you, Shane Black).
Director Aaron Taylor, notable for his success in HBO's Game of Thrones franchise, brings the appropriate amount of fantasy-action to the Norse God of Thunder. Taylor's control of the cast and production show, with strong, consistent characters living in a beautifully realized world.
I know a lot of people are going to disagree with me when I say this, but Thor: The Dark World had some of the best action sequences of any Marvel Studios production, second only to the Avengers. And in that, Dark World really did for me what I wished it's predecessor would've done. Thor really feels like a god, the Nine Realms really feel vast and epic, and Loki is no longer a big sissy like he has been, even in Joss Whedon's overhyped script for the Avengers.
The story here which I won't get into, is rather simple, and while some critics see this as a fault (almost as if they forget these films are based on comic books), I found it nice to enjoy a film which is just as much about taking you on a journey as much as it is the stops along the way. If for some odd reason you see a film titled Thor and think, "Gee, I'm hoping it's as intricate as The Dark Knight!" perhaps you should stay at home - at least that way you 1. Won't be disappointed and 2. Can continue to believe you're an intelligent person. Thor's adventure in Dark World is to the point, and all the better for it.
Thor 2: Electric Boogaloo isn't perfect however, and tis is nowhere near as obvious as it is in the film's villain. Malekith, played by Christopher Eccleston, isn't performed poorly, he just isn't given enough to do. His screentime is few and far between, which undermines elements of the 2nd and 3rd acts. It's hard to care as much as the filmmakers want us to if we aren't familiar with Thor's threat.
Hiddleston, Hemsworth, Portman, and Hopkins are all great, feeling more comfortable in their roles. The score here is also great, rivaled only by Marvel's Captain America. It hits all of its notes, accentuating when necessary without becoming distracting. The cinematography is gorgeous, and the SFX team brought a world to life which I can only describe as being Lord of the Rings and The Terminator combined.
Overall, Thor: The Dark World isn't perfect, but it is miles above Iron Man 3 in that it's spirit of fun isn't arrogant, but genuine. It may not be the greatest fantasy realized on screen, but in a world where we see a new superhero film every several weeks, this one has some legs to stand on. Great action, beautiful design, and humor the whole family can enjoy, Thor: The Dark World is a great time.
Also, the post-credits scenes (there are two) are great!