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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 19, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Accent

Review: Marvel hammers out superhero success

Gripping battle scenes and special effects invigorate sequel film

Thor: The Dark World

Directed by Alan Taylor

Big budgets, large-scale action sequences and destruction of major cities is the formula Marvel has used since 2008 to strike a chord with moviegoers, and it shows no signs of stopping. Disney and Marvel have once again asserted their cinematic dominance with “Thor: The Dark World.”

The second standalone “Thor” film, the picture is far from the best Marvel movie. But despite its flaws, the film is still highly entertaining thanks to the studio’s trademark formula of stunning visuals and action.

Directed by Alan Taylor and starring Chris Hemsworth as Thor, this sequel picks up after the events of “The Avengers,” with Thor returning Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to his home kingdom of Asgard to face punishment for leading the invasion of New York City in “The Avengers.” He is banished to the Asgard dungeon for his crimes, and Thor is set to take over as the rightful heir to his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Trouble arises when an ancient species, the Dark Elves, return to claim the kingdoms for themselves. With all kingdoms and worlds aligning together in the same dimension, something that only occurs every 5,000 years, the elves see it as the best chance to attack. As a result, Thor is forced to sacrifice everything in order to save his Earth-dwelling love, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), along with the rest of humanity.

While the film boasts a budget of $170 million, non-action sequences feel like painstakingly long scenes out of “Game Of Thrones” — which Taylor also has a heavy creative hand in. The below-average dialogue doesn’t deliver the wit and humor expected from a Marvel film. The only actor entertaining enough to listen to on a regular basis is the fantastic Hiddleston. His eloquence delivering lines is done in such a powerful way that captivates the audience; however, he is rarely on screen. Because he is banished to the dungeons in the early minutes of the film, he stays there until the end action sequences. The film would have been improved greatly if he was featured more.

Like any other superhero movie, large-scale battle scenes take up a good part of the film. A spectacular invasion of Asgard sees soldiers taking down ships the size of skyscrapers, creating jaw-dropping crashes. Another sequence features an escape from Asgard, where effective cinematography portraying perilous travel speeds may make the audience cringe as ships fit into tight spaces they should never be flying through.

Brian Tyler makes full use of his orchestra, creating an emotionally epic score that enhances the heart-pounding feeling of the action. Tyler also scored “Iron Man 3” for Marvel earlier this year. After two fantastic scores that boast catchy standalone themes and gripping nodes that create spine-tingling dramatic moments, Tyler is far from finished when it comes to composing in the Marvel universe.

For all the money Marvel had to make this film a visual success, audiences will wonder why more funds couldn’t have been put toward the script. Most of the film lacks the trademark witty humor of previous Marvel installments, and a confusing scientific plot involving the physics of different dimensions leaves viewers scratching their heads before explosions and soaring superheroes fill the screen once again.

Nonetheless, the film will be a success for Disney and Marvel with the great hype this sequel has. The mid-credit and post-credit scenes also tease several new characters featured in producer Kevin Feige’s future movies. These scenes will keep audiences talking for weeks as they eagerly await the next entry from the universe, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which is due to hit theaters in April 2014.

Everything seems to be building toward “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” in 2015, but the guaranteed action and entertainment that comes with Marvel is irresistible in “Thor: The Dark World” and only gets the audience excited for what the next few years of movies Marvel has in store.

Overall rating: Three stars out of four