During the opening minutes of “Thor: The Dark World,” Odin (Anthony Hopkins) explains the mythology behind the movie. The convergence of the Nine Realms (nine home worlds drawn from Norse cosmology) is at hand. He tells us that during the last convergence, the Dark Elves, led by Lord Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), used a destructive force called the Aether in an attempt to plunge the Nine Realms into darkness.
The elves failed because King Odin’s son, Thor, Asgard’s hammer-wielding hero, led a loyal army of Asgard warriors to victory. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his boys were beefier and wore fancier armor, but it’s difficult to fathom why they should triumph over the Dark Elves’ battalion of awesome space ships and cool weapons. Chief among these weapons was the Aether, which Thor captured and ordered buried where no one could ever find it.
From then until now (500 years later), Thor keeps the peace in the Nine Realms by squashing insurrection. We can dispute the concept of his iron hammer, but not the loyalty of warrior Sif (Jaimie Alexander). She’s a dark beauty who saves Thor’s bacon more than once. Sif hopes for more between herself and Thor, but, alas, his heart belongs to earthling Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).
On Asgard King Odin and his wife Queen Frigga (Rene Russo), are embroiled in a family drama that involves punishing Thor’s misbehaving, adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston). While Loki sits in the well-appointed room serving as his prison cell, Thor has adventures, goes to banquets and hangs out with Heimdall (Idris Elba), Asgard’s studly guard. Heimdall is all seeing and helps Thor by keeping an eye on Jane. However, Heimdall suddenly can no longer see Jane, prompting Thor to catch the next wormhole to earth.
Jane is an astrophysicist and has been drawn to investigate an earthly electromagnetic anomaly. The next thing you know Jane stumbles upon the partially excavated, smoky maroon Aether, and the lousy thing seizes the opportunity to possess her.
Thor arrives and scoops up Jane, who shows her spunk by slapping him hard across the face. He pledges to remain by her side forever and they kiss. It’s all very romantic, but Thor’s promise is a relatively safe one since humans live less than 100 years while Asgardians live for 5,000.
The release of the Aether awakens dark elf Malekith from a long hibernation. He gathers his soldiers and embarks upon a quest to destroy Asgard and take back the Aether. Bring it on!
This quest means loads and loads of special effects, my favorite being a giant elf space ship smashing a new entrance into Asgard’s cliff-side castle. Loyalties are tried and difficult strategies are tested — Ho-hum. Thor’s hammer can be counted on to be smashing, even when little else is. Loki’s chameleon qualities, and his quips, add color, but I wish the story line had grabbed me. Instead, this live-action comic book made my head sore.