Thor: The Dark World (PG-13)
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This is the sequel to Thor, and the second movie in Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the eighth movie overall). The movie begins with a little history lesson from Odin, about how his father, Bor, had long ago led the forces of Asgard to victory over the Dark Elves, who were led by Malekith. I guess the Dark Elves had been around longer than the Universe itself, and they wanted to destroy the Universe. This was something Melekith planned to achieve by using a weapon called the Aether, which I guess was made from dark energy, or something like that. Anyway, when the Dark Elves were defeated Malekith and some of his warriors managed to escape, and went into suspended animation, waiting for a time they might restart their war. Bor would have destroyed the Aether if he could, but it can't be destroyed, so he had it buried somewhere that supposedly no one would ever find it.
In the present, after the events of The Avengers, Loki is a prisoner on Asgard. Meanwhile, Thor and his Asgardian friends are fighting battles on other worlds, trying to put an end to chaos and unite the Nine Realms, or whatever. And on Earth, Jane Foster is on a date with the imaginary dude from Moone Boy, but she's not paying much attention to him. Then Darcy shows up to tell her their electronic gizmo that's supposed to detect weird stuff going on is suddenly telling them that weird stuff is going on. So they leave to check it out. And Darcy has a new intern named Ian. And hey, I'd forgotten how funny Darcy is. Anyway... while investigating the strange goings-on, Jane disappears, and finds herself on a desolate world, where she gets infected by the Aether. Then she gets back home, where weird things are still going on. And Thor shows up, and takes her to Asgard.
The surviving Dark Elves awaken, now that the Aether has been released from where it was buried thousands of years ago. Malekith sends his lieutenant, Algrim, to um... infiltrate Asgard. But first he puts a thing into Algrim that turns him into a sort of supersoldier called a "Kursed." But Algrim doesn't activate the thing until he's been captured by warriors from Asgard, and taken back there to be imprisoned. I have no idea when or where he was captured, but I guess it must have been on one of the worlds where they'd been fighting random battles. Anyway, after he activates his Kursed super powers, he escapes, and breaks a bunch of other prisoners out. He leaves Loki in his cell, but Loki does give him some useful advice. Then there's a massive invasion of Asgard by Malekith and his forces. Some really bad stuff happens, but they fail to achieve their objective, which was to find Jane and take the Aether from her.
Odin wants to prepare for the next battle against the Dark Elves, but Thor comes up with a plan of his own, which he and his friends enact in spite of Odin's having forbidden it. And they get help from Loki, whom they don't completely trust, but... they have a very good reason to believe he wants revenge against Malekith. I won't spoil what that reason is, however. Anyway... Thor and Loki and Jane travel to the Dark World, which I guess is where the Dark Elves are from, because they want Malekith to take the Aether out of Jane. Apparently he's the only one who could do that, and if it stays inside her, it will eventually kill her. Once it's out of her, they intend to destroy the Aether before Malekith can use it, himself. The plan... doesn't completely work out.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, Erik Selvig has been put in a mental institution, for reasons. But Darcy and Ian get him out. He knows that the reason weird stuff has been going on is that the Nine Realms are about to converge, which hasn't happened since the last war against the Dark Elves, thousands of years ago. The convergence is totally screwing with the laws of physics, or something. But Selvig has a plan to ensure that Earth survives all the craziness that's gonna happen during the convergence. And Jane and Thor eventually show up to help with all that, but Malekith also shows up, so... more bad stuff happens.
And that's all I really want to say about the plot, but of course the good guys win in the end. And there's a bonus scene partway through the end credits, and a second bonus scene at the very end of the credits. So that was fun. Anyway, I liked the movie. For awhile I thought it was just okay... I was like, "I guess I'll give it three smileys," but by the end I was thinking four smileys. Then I looked at my review of the first "Thor," expecting to find I'd given it four and a half or something, but found it was three and three quarters. So I was like "Wait, I liked that one more than this one, didn't I?" So I don't know. I ended up giving this movie the same rating, but I'm not quite sure which one I liked better, or if I really did like them pretty much exactly the same. (I suspect I liked the first one better.) All I really know is that this movie definitely had some really funny bits. (I think my favorite part was when poor ol' Mjolnir was trying to find its way back to Thor, but kept having to change course whenever Thor disappeared through dimensional rifts between Earth and the Dark World. Also I liked when Darcy saw the hammer and tried to call it, but of course she didn't pronounce its name correctly, because no one ever does.) And um... yeah. Some good humor, some great battles and special effects, and also some good drama... and a twist at the end that didn't really surprise me, but was still pretty cool.