Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Thor: The Dark World Blu-ray Review

Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World continues the big screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself. In the aftermath of Marvel’s The Avengers, Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos… but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all. Chris Hemsworth (Thor, The Avengers, Snow White and the Huntsman) as Thor, Natalie Portman (Thor, Black Swan, Star Wars Episodes I-III) as Jane Foster, Tom Hiddleston (Thor, The Avengers, War Horse) as Loki and Anthony Hopkins (Thor, Silence of the Lambs, Nixon) as Odin.
Film (4 out of 5 stars)
Picking up from where the original Thor movie and The Avengers left off, Thor: The Dark World builds upon what came before it and comes up with a fun and exciting sequel that advances the characters and opens up the world of Asgard as a good sequel should. And I'm not kidding about picking right up where Avengers left off as the movie begins with Loki (Tom Hiddleston) being brought before his father and King of Asgard, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) in chains to pay for his actions against Midgard (Earth). Loki is no longer cowed by his adoptive father and feels like his attempt to rule humans was exactly what his heritage demanded. Odin knows that there's no redemption for Loki and he throws him in the most secure jail in Asgard where he is surrounded by other high risk prisoners. As if that wasn't bad enough, Odin also confirms to Loki that Thor (Chris Hemsworth) will indeed be made King of Asgard when the time comes. 

That time isn't right now, since Thor, Lady Sif (Jamie Alexander), and the warriors three - Fandral (Zachary Levi), Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano) have been trying to restore the peace across the nine realms. The combined effects of the Bifrost getting destroyed (during Thor and Loki's fight from the first film) and Loki's attempt to become a ruler of another planet, bad guys everywhere were galvanized to try to seize the day as it were since the Asgardians couldn't come to stop them. At least until the new Bifrost was built which allowed Thor and his companions to start meting out justice across the galaxy. All of that turmoil and strife takes Thor and his companions a long time to stop so a year has gone by since he last saw his first love Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). 

When Jane is possessed by an ancient Dark Elf energy weapon called the Aether, it awakens the last remaining Dark Elves who have been in hibernation as they waited for the weapon's reappearance. Led by a ruthless Dark Elf named Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) and his second in command Algrim (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), the Dark Elves put their plan of revenge against their former foes the Asgardians into motion. That plan will of course affect not only Asgard but the entire universe as Malekith intends to use the Aether to unleash darkness across the galaxy during the Convergence; a rare alignment of the Nine Realms which will amplify the Aether's effects. The Dark Elf threat is so great that it will take Thor, Heimdall (Idris Elba), Lady Sif, The Warriors Three, Jane, Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard), and Darcy (Kat Dennings) to fight them, as well as the last person that Thor should ever count on for help...Loki.

I really liked Thor but I felt that it suffered from a rushed ending, an issue that a lot of the earlier Marvel movies shared. It also was hampered by having to set up the characters, the world, and how that world coexisted with the established Marvel Universe that originated with the Iron Man movies. Director Kenneth Branagh did a fantastic job creating the world with a fairly low budget but where he really excelled was his casting choices, which fortunately carried over to this sequel. There's a few changes though, as Zachary Levi has taken over the role of Fandral from Josh Dallas and Alan Taylor took over as director, fresh off from directing "Game of Thrones" episodes.

There's other changes as well, as the world seems bigger now and there's also more of an emphasis on technology. It's not just swords and shields anymore as there's lasers and spaceships and it's become a mix of The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars which is actually a pretty cool combination. Now that the world of Thor has been established, this sequel is able to jump right into the action. If you didn't see the first movie or The Avengers, you are out of luck since this movie doesn't waste time rehashing what happened before. I liked how the movie continued the relationship and history of Thor and Loki since that's what drives this movie.

Chris Hemsworth has gotten only better as Thor, which is a pretty tricky role to play when you factor in the character's godhood, his attire, his medieval style of speech, and the fact that he has a hammer that allows him to fly. But Hemsworth makes it all work as he's entirely believable as a fierce warrior and it doesn't hurt that he has charm to spare. Equally good is Tom Hiddleston as Loki, who has become one of the best characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His portrayal of Loki in Thor was good, but it was his multi-faceted villainy in The Avengers that really turned the character into a rock star. If there was any doubt of that, you only had to be at last year's Comic-Con where his appearance as Loki was the highlight of the entire event.

By putting Thor and Loki together and forcing them to work together really adds a lot to the movie as the two share a lot chemistry together and their antagonistic relationship adds a lot of humor to the movie. In fact, I would have liked more time spent with them than with the Dark Elves which weren't that interesting. The rest of Thor's companions and colleagues all do a nice job in their roles but this movie is all about Thor and Loki and their Shakespearean rivalry. Leaving the audience wanting more, the ending of this movie brilliantly sets up the next chapter and raises the stakes for both Thor and Loki and Asgard itself. I'm not sure if this will pay off in The Avengers: The Age of Ultron or we will have to wait until the next Thor movie, but Marvel has proven themselves the master of expanding and linking their overall cinematic universe with each film. 
Video (5 out of 5 stars)
This 1080p (2.40:1) transfer looks fantastic which isn't much of a surprise since Disney traditionally delivers great looking transfers. There's a ton of detail on display and I noticed a lot of details that I had missed in the theaters. Colors look bright and the various hues really stand out when the action moves to Asgard with all of its pageantry. Flesh tones look realistic and natural and the black levels are pitch black and consistently solid. There isn't a scratch or digital blemish to be found in this gorgeous transfer.
Audio (5 out of 5 stars)
As good as Thor: The Dark World's video quality is, the film's DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix is even better. Every channel gets used to its utmost potential and it is sure to test out your home theater system. This mix packs a serious wallop especially during the final battle in London. The dialogue is clear and intelligible and the rear channels offer a powerful sonic experience that boasts some really impressive cross channel directional activity that's accurate and immersive. This is an amazing mix that's going to shake your house guaranteed.
Extras (4 out of 5 stars)
These are all good extras especially the Marvel One Shot: All Hail the King. They are all in high definition as well which is a nice bonus.
  • Marvel One Shot: All Hail the King - If you were one of the people who didn't like the twist ending in Iron Man 3, then you might like the direction that this short film takes. This is a mini sequel that takes place after the events of Iron Man 3 and it's directed and written by Drew Pearch who co-wrote IM3 with Shane Black. Ben Kingsley's character returns as we see how life in prison is treating him. This is a very funny extra and make sure you watch it all the way to the end for an awesome cameo! 
  • The Dark World Audio Commentary - We hear from Director Alan Taylor, cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau, producer and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, and actor Tom Hiddleston who talk about the film and how they wanted to expand on the first film. While Taylor and Morgenthau are more focused on talking about the movie scene by scene, Hiddleston and Feige offer a more lively overview of the film. The two of them are the highlight of the commetary track.
  • A Brother's Journey: Thor & Loki - This over thirty minute featurette is broken into two parts with the first one dedicated on the first Thor movie and The Avengers and the second one is focused on this sequel. We learn about how the roles were cast (including a quick look at Hiddleston's audition to play Thor), how each movie continued their character arcs, and the two actors approach to their characters and each other's.  We hear from Hemsworth, Hiddleston, and many of the other cast and crew who also share their thoughts.
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes - Six deleted scenes are here including: "Extended Celebration Scene," "Jane Learns About the Aether," "Loki: The First Avenger," "Thor and Frigga Discuss Loki," "Dark Elves Prepare for Battle," and "Extended Vanaheim Scene." There's also optional commentary detailing why they were cut. I actually liked all of these scenes and thought they should have been included in the final film. 
  • Scoring Thor: The Dark World with Brian Tyler - Composer Brian Tyler talks about getting to continue to work with Marvel and how he tried to make this score sound different but true to the source. 
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier Exclusive Look - Here's a four minute look at the upcoming Captain America: Winter Soldier which looks great. We hear from Kevin Feige, directors Anthony and Joe Russo, and the main actors including: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan and Robert Redford.
  • Gag Reel - Although this gag reel is pretty short, it is really funny and I enjoyed it a lot.
Summary (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Thor: The Dark World improves upon the first film in every way possible and this Blu-ray is equally good with its reference quality video and audio quality and some interesting and fun extras. This release is a no brainer to recommend especially if you've enjoyed the other Marvel movies.

 Order your copy today! 

No comments:

Post a Comment