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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Thor: The Dark World Blu-ray Review

After 2011's Thor raked in $449 million, a sequel was almost immediately given the greenlight. Disney managed to get everyone to return for Thor: The Dark World -- except director Kenneth Branagh. Instead, Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones) is taking on the god of thunder's second outing.

All that really matters is that Chris Hemsworth is returning as our hunky superhero. And as you'd expect, the big lug is still trying to save the universe. However, some dark family history disrupts Thor's plans to restore order. Malekith (Doctor Who's Christopher Eccleston) is the one that isn't having it and wants to use a weapon known as the Aether to destroy everyone and anyone in his path. Soon, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is infected by the Aether, because well... she needs to be a major part of the sequel, right?

I wasn't a big Thor fan when the original film first debuted, but it sort of grew on me. Maybe it was Hemsworth's hypnotic blue eyes (and muscles). Maybe it was the special effects. I'd like to think it was Tom Hiddleston's fiendish, fun portrayal as Loki. That brings me to one of my major problems with this follow-up: Hiddleston is sorely underused here. That said, he still manages to steal every scene he's in.

 Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth engage in some sibling rivalry in "Thor: The Dark World." Photo: © Marvel/Jay Maidment.

Thor certainly isn't my favorite Marvel franchise, but it's hard to hate Thor: The Dark World, especially when it's packed with such talent and special effects. At 112 minutes, it's a bit on the lengthy side for what's going on here, but that climatic ending is absolutely worth the wait.

Want to read a supersized review of this movie? Check out Chris Boylan's theatrical review of Thor: The Dark World.

The Picture

There is a 3D release for Thor: The Dark World, but Disney sent out the 2D version for review. I didn't love Thor's 3D effects when it was released theatrically, but this movie has a lot of moments that appear to be made for 3D. However, the 2D version is just as nice and filled with all of the eye candy you'd expect from a big-budget superhero flick. The 2.40:1 image has great colors and really impressive black levels. I am specifically calling out those black levels because there are a lot of dark scenes in this film. However, it never loses the detail presented. Speaking of which, this film is busting with detailed imagery, whether it's the faces, special effects, or Thor's glistening chest.

The Sound

I'm giving this audio track a half a star higher than the video presentation. It's not that the video isn't a nice match for the audio, but that this DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix is just so stellar. Dialogue is always crisp, but of course, there are tons of thunderous sound effects and the track uses every single speaker to deliver the goods. The barrage of action makes this is a demo-worthy track.

The Extras
As mentioned, there is a 3D release for Thor: The Dark World, and that's the only one getting DVD and digital versions of this film. The 2D Blu-ray is a single-disc release, but does have a variety of special features including an audio commentary, deleted scenes, a piece on Thor's music, and 4 minutes on the upcoming Captain America sequel. There's also 32 minutes on "Thor & Loki" for those needing a little more Loki, as well as the "Marvel One Shot: All Hail the King" short. Without giving away too much, the latter is a 14-minute film that provides an extra fix of Ben Kingsley's Iron Man 3 character.
Final Thoughts

Marvel's hunky superhero does a decent job on his second outing -- and has the box-office receipts to prove it. While not my favorite superhero movie (or even my favorite superhero sequel), Thor: The Dark World is one you'll want to pick up, if not just for the awesome visuals and DTD-HD Master Audio 7.1 track.

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