A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Thor: The Dark World is a teen-friendly follow-up to 2011's Thor, continuing where the adventures of that film -- as well as Marvel's The Avengers -- left off. The comic book-based action film treads on heavy ground, with moody characters prone to power-hungry moves and rage-filled conquests, and with intense battle scenes involving lots of stabbing, shooting, and punching, but it's not so much bloody as brutal. (Viewers don't, in fact, see a lot of blood.) Expect some occasional swearing ("hell" and a few instances of "s--t") and some kissing.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
THOR: THE DARK WORLD begins on the eve of the Convergence, when the Nine Realms are about to align, enemies from the past return to haunt and imperil the citizens of Asgard and everyone else. Thor (Chris Hemsworth), who has been away from astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) for two years, dealing with instability across the Nine Realms, returns to Asgard. Then Jane chances upon an anomaly that brings back the Aether, a mysterious force that once threatened Asgard and has awakened its long-time enemies, the Dark Elves, who are out for blood. Meanwhile, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), is languishing in prison, awaiting his next chance at glory.
Is it any good?
No one can accuse this film of being uncomplicated; it's certainly not simple-minded in the way some comic-book-based films are. In fact, it may actually suffer from an overabundance of complexity, as it struggles mightily to explain the nuances of a universal convergence that has awakened beasts called the Dark Elves and threatens to upend all that Thor and his father, Odin (played amiably by Anthony Hopkins), and their ancestors have worked so hard to achieve. Sadly, it doesn't win the fight, allowing dogma to win over wit; backstory to triumph over characterization.
Portman's Jane Foster doesn't have much to do here, and is relegated to an even more pronounced damsel-in-distress position than in the original Thor. Her mentor, Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard), is ignored, too, left to play the nutty professor. Even Thor himself doesn't seem to be deriving much honor in being the leader, or glory from all the hammer-throwing he's doing. (Or joy from seeing Jane again, for that matter.) So thank goodness for Hiddleston's Loki, who's still a delight, even if the story no longer revolves around him. It's the special effects that take center stage here, in battle scenes that are visually gripping. If only Thor: The Dark World made the audience more invested in what was happening onscreen, those battles would hold more heft.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Thor: The Dark World. Are scenes of battle and violence in comic-book-based, CGI-enhanced movies any different than live-action sequences that show reality-based fights?
What is this movie saying about family bonds and the struggle for power? Does it add anything new to the conversation?
Are the female characters in the movie strong and empowered? Or are they variations on the damsel-in-distress trope?
- In theaters: November 8, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: February 25, 2014
- Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman
- Director: Alan Taylor
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes
- Run time: 120 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence; some suggestive content
- Last updated: December 4, 2019
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