Beer or Box Office: Tom Hiddleston steals the show in ‘Thor: The Dark World’

This movie review was originally published at USA TODAY COLLEGE on Nov. 8, 2013. Photo found here.

Chris Hemsworth may play the title character, but Thor: The Dark World is entirely Tom Hiddleston’s movie. Hiddleston, who plays Loki, is a joy to watch as he steals every scene he’s in. His character shows the most development over the story arc that started with 2011’s Thor and continued in 2012’s The Avengers. His performance is the strong point in an already strong sequel.

Thor: The Dark World is a marked improvement over its predecessor. The first Thor was a movie that knew exactly what it was – a fun summer blockbuster meant to create hype for Avengers – and never pretended to be anything more.

Tom Hiddleston stars as Loki in the motion picture Thor: The Dark World.

Dark World is better because it lives up to its name in plot and tone, and tries to show more development in its characters. These guardians of the universe are more nuanced and ambiguously motivated than in the first film. Thor has more to do than yell, scream and arrogantly go to war with his enemies. He is more restrained here.

Loki has more emotional depth now that he is in jail on Asgard for his actions in New York. He’s also coming to grips with the fact that his father never wanted him to be king. It’s a great performance by Hiddleston, as the audience is left never really knowing what Loki’s motives are.

But this is a superhero film, and superhero films aren’t built on character development alone. There’s a lot of action in Dark World, and the good thing is that the action always serves the plot, not the other way around.

The plot is standard Marvel fare. Thor must save Earth and the rest of the universe by fighting an enemy long thought to be dead: Malekith, the leader of the Dark Elves. Malekith wants to send the world into darkness by using an ancient weapon called the Aether, which can turn matter into dark matter and will destroy anyone that comes into contact with it. When Malekith releases the weapon in conjunction with an eclipse of the nine realms, it creates a blurring effect where people can travel to different worlds through wormholes.

Scientist Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman, is sucked into one of those wormholes while travelling the world searching for Thor. She ends up coming into contact with the Aether, and it latches on to her like a parasite. The only way for her to be saved is to travel to Asgard with Thor. Once she arrives there, all hell breaks loose.

The battles and action scenes that follow are entertaining and great to look at, but it’s all things we’ve seen before in Avengers or other Marvel franchise films. The 3D doesn’t add much to the experience except for a few scenes. But it’s still a great sequel that improves on the original, and it’s even good as a stand-alone film.

It is the acting and character development that make this film great. Those will probably be benchmarks for future Marvel franchise films, since the plots are bound to wear thin in the coming years. Marvel has already released seven films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and has four more in development. If all future actors turn in performances as memorable as Hiddleston’s, Marvel is in good hands.

Jake Harris is a senior journalism major at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX.

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