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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Adventure > Fantasy > Comic Book > Thor: The Dark World (2013/Disney/Marvel Blu-ray)

Thor: The Dark World (2013/Disney/Marvel Blu-ray)

Picture: B Sound: B+ Extras: B- Film: B-

As soon as he was introduced in his first Marvel Comics appearance, Thor quickly became a huge superhero favorite, thanks in part to the great Jack Kirby and by 1966, he was the star of his own animated TV series that used Kirby art. Save a terrible 1988 live-action appearance in an Incredible Hulk telefilm revival, this remained the case until 2011 when Kenneth Branagh pulled off one of the best of recent live-action superhero films with unknown Chris Hemsworth, a worldwide hit 45 years later after that animated show.

Hemsworth further cemented the role in Marvel's Avengers feature film a year later and for a third year in a row, is a hit all over again in Alan Taylor's Thor: The Dark World with the God of Thunder returning to Asgard to find a new crisis after just barely stopping a few previous others. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has been jailed by the Kingdom and Odin (Anthony Hopkins) who will not tolerate treason and a new crisis whose seeds were set millennia ago is about to return. This will include an old enemy in Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) who wants to use an almost uncontrollable new force to annihilate Asgard and all in power once and for all.

Meanwhile back on Earth, as authorities are busy repairing millions of dollars in infrastructure damage from the last films, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) has not heard from Thor for few years and is still living in England, but that is about to change. In the meantime, Professor Sevig (Stellan Skarsgard) sees a new alignment approaching and it has driven him so mad that an outburst he has at Stonehenge gets him committed to an asylum. Jane might follow if her hyper, interfering friend Darcy (Kat Denning) keeps driving her nuts.

Though not as good as the preceding films, including far more digital work than either thanks to a record amount of time spent in various fantasy worlds. Often faithful to to comic books, one glaring issue with this script is how it ignores and suddenly drops issues from the previous two Thor outings thinking just repeating Bifrost over and over settles things. Combine that lack of continuity with more humor than the previous films and this new outing is the weakest of the the, though still competent and more realized than recent superhero films like Iron Man 3, Man Of Steel and even the last Wolverine film.

Still, Branagh's hand is missing despite Taylor's otherwise professional job. Another issue is that the characters are not as warmly rendered scriptwise, so add the familiar territory and the film's tendency to want to over-emulate the first three Star Wars films in its action sequences and those with high expectations will feel the occasional coasting going on here. Thanks to the chemistry of the cast, Thor: The Dark World still delivers enough, but not as much as it should. The makers of the next film will have to work harder to stop any sense of decline, because this cast and these characters deserve better.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image was also issued in a 3D version and a Blu-ray 3D version has followed from a post-production conversion, but all we are catching here is the 2D edition on Blu-ray and looks almost as good as the first film. However, they both look too digital and the first film was shot on 35mm while this one switches to the Arri Alexa and Red Epic HD cameras, resulting in a slight loss of overall visual richness.

The sound is the highlight here with a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix that is a mixdown from the best screenings of the film theatrically, which featured Dolby Atmos 11.1 presentations. The previous Thor film came out before that format was in full swing, but I notice no major difference in the two films (we did not get to review the first film, but like Marvel's Avengers, highly recommend the Blu-ray 3D and 2D editions) and is one of the sonically most compelling, complex and dynamic sound mixes of the year.

Extras include a feature length audio commentary track by Taylor, Hiddleston, Director of Photography Kramer Morgenthau & Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, the Behind The Scenes featurette A Brother's Journey: Thor & Loki, Deleted & Extended Scenes, Gag Reel, Scoring Thor featurette with composer Brian Tyler, a look at the new Captain America sequel and the short film All Hail The King with Ben Kingsley returning in his Iron Man 3 role. See them all after watching Thor: The Dark World.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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