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Thor: The Dark World (3D Blu-ray Review)

14 Feb, 2014 By: John Latchem

Street 2/25/14
Box Office $205.05 million
$29.99 DVD, $32.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 3D Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content.
Stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano, Jaimie Alexander, Rene Russo.

The best thing about the Thor: The Dark World Blu-ray might be how the handlers of the Marvel Cinematic Universe used it to address a bit of fan controversy surrounding Iron Man 3. Namely, how that film portrayed The Mandarin as an actor being manipulated by the true villain’s evil plot.

Naturally, a lot of comic book purists hated the characterization, since in the comics The Mandarin is one of Iron Man’s greatest arch-enemies.

The fan service comes in the form of All Hail the King, the latest of the “Marvel One Shot” short films that have become a customary addition to the MCU home video releases. Ben Kingsley returns to play Trevor Slattery, the British actor who posed as The Mandarin and now finds himself a cult hero in prison, where a journalist is interviewing him for a documentary. Slattery knows people weren’t happy with his portrayal because the Internet is swarming with people eager to tear him to shreds over it, an obvious meta-reference if ever there was one.

The fun and entertaining short film throws in a couple more pop culture gags and a few more twists along the way, leading to a surprise cameo no fan of the MCU will want to miss.

As for Thor: The Dark World, the film is much more of a direct sequel to The Avengers than was Iron Man 3, picking up with Loki (Tom Hiddleston) being imprisoned on Asgard, while Thor (Chris Hemsworth) leads the effort to restore peace to the Nine Realms, which fell into disarray due to Loki’s mischief. Meanwhile, the universe is threatened with destruction by the evil Dark Elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), whose plan requires finding a dark energy that has infested itself in Thor’s old love Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) in her search for the God of Thunder.

The story is much grander in scope than the first “Thor” movie, providing satisfying action that culminates with an ingenious final battle that jumps from world to world.

Another benefit from the further development of Thor’s side of the MCU is the way it sets up some of the more-bizarre concepts Marvel is adapting for its films. Case in point: the film begins to lay the groundwork for the Guardians of the Galaxy movie due later this year. That’s a superhero team that includes a talking raccoon.

The extras on the Dark World Blu-ray are thorough, with an audio commentary serving as the best source of information about the making of the film. There’s also a half-hour featurette about the relationship between Thor and Loki.

In addition, the Blu-ray includes eight minutes of mostly superfluous deleted scenes, a gag reel and a featurette about composer Brian Tyler, who seems to be taking over the musical direction of the MCU.

The disc also includes a four-minute preview of the next MCU movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which lands in theaters in April.

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