Fellow humans and Asgardians alike: “Thor: The Dark World” has officially opened with mostly positive praises from all nine realms. And that’s no small feat. “Thor” has big shoes to fill after the string of Marvel films that have been sprung upon us over the past few years.

In the second installment of Marvel’s Thor franchise, Chris Hemsworth (“Rush”) reclaims the role of the legendary Norse god that he assumed in the 2011 release of “Thor” and 2012’s flick of the summer, “The Avengers.” This time, however, darker forces threaten the well-being of everyone’s favorite god of Asgard, darker even than those surrounding Loki – the prime disputant in both “Thor” and “The Avengers.”

The film opens with a scene in which Thor’s grandfather, Bor, wars with the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim, one of the nine realms of the Marvel Universe. Malekith, leader of this elfin race, wants to harness the dark energy of the Aether, better known as an Infinity Stone (think of the Tesseract from “The Avengers,” except far more lethal).

Malekith, whose intentions involve bringing darkness upon all nine realms, proves to be just another villain. He doesn’t possess the sly and sarcastic cool that Loki brought forth in “Thor” and “The Avengers,” his intentions are painfully cliché and his strength seems all too easily rivaled by Thor’s mighty hammer and godlike capabilities.

Despite the dark tone of the film, screenwriters Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely incorporated comedic relief through Loki, the god of mischief, who is portrayed by Tom Hiddleston (“Midnight in Paris”).

There is never a dull moment with Hiddleston. In fact, the London-born actor made a guest appearance at Comic-Con this year during the promotion of “Thor: The Dark World,” clad in full Asgardian armor and asking the audience to chant his name. After, he declared in a slightly amused tone: “it seems I have an army.” Hiddleston uses this natural sense of humor to add another dimension to his lines.

Hiddleston’s acting supplies the final touch to this deeply disturbed character, adding a dynamic to the super-villain that makes the audience root for him even when he is playing upon his antagonistic nature. His sly demeanor couples with his snarky ways, such as a scene in which he and Thor are trying to transport to Svartalfheim – only for Loki to act the part of the proverbial “backseat driver.” These antics let him steal the show. Scenes like this make Loki a three-dimensional character, leaving the audience in distress whenever Malekith’s elfin subjects attack him.

Aesthetically, “Thor: The Dark World” is mind-blowing. The scenes in Asgard (the realm that Thor calls home), reveal a majestic and intriguing landscape to the audience. This realm is a mixture of lore and technological advancements that are as jaw-dropping as they are masterfully designed, exposing a mysterious and truly enchanting world of skyscraping castles and scenery that rivals the traditional depiction of the Biblical Garden of Eden.

On the other hand, the scenes in Svartalfheim show a rugged, terrifying terrain that contrasts the majestic realm of Asgard. The two realms further illustrate the conflict between good and evil: Thor and Malekith.

Characteristic to Marvel films, “Thor: The Dark World” possesses a deeper meaning behind the brawny vigilantes and toned temptresses. It is in the moment that Thor comes to realize he must choose between a life with his love, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”), or one of decadence and the throne of Asgard, which proves to be a focal point in which the audience relates to the larger-than-life Norse god.

The soundtrack – which ranges from spine-chilling and slow-paced orchestral numbers to pieces that mimic the regality of pomp and circumstance – masterfully narrates Thor’s human-like decision process throughout this thematic tale. Even gods must make choices.

This installment of Marvel’s Thor franchise may not have been as successful as its successors “Thor” and “The Avengers,” the latter of which ultimately became the third highest-grossing film of all time, but it did prove to be an enjoyable and slightly spine-tingling film, especially during the customary Marvel post-credit scene that reveals the Collector: a new villain who hopes to acquire all of the Infinity Stones that plague the Marvel Universe. This may be a war that Thor alone cannot face.

Ignoring the positive approval shortcomings, it seems that Chris Hemsworth successfully reclaimed the big screen as the mightiest Avenger. After all, who needs a catchy title or a better villain when your hero is the god of thunder?

– By Sierra Cortner 

Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios

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