Blu-ray
Recommended
4 stars
List Price
$39.99
Amazon
$29.99 (25%)
3rd Party
$29.03
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Overall Grade
4 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
3 Stars
HD Video Quality
4 Stars
HD Audio Quality
5 Stars
Supplements
3 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
Recommended

Thor: The Dark World - 3D

Street Date:
February 25th, 2014
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
February 27th, 2014
Movie Release Year:
2013
Studio:
Disney/Buena Vista
Length:
112 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13
Release Country
United States

Editor's Notes

The majority of this review can be found in Aaron Peck's review of the 2D Blu-ray release of 'Thor: The Dark World.' The only new portions are those that reflect on the 3D release, including the Vital Stats, the video quality review and the Final Thoughts. Yes, Luke agrees with the majority of Aaron's review of the movie itself, so feel free to dig into him in the forums too. Luke's a big boy. He can handle it. After all, he's the reviewer that gave 'Hook' a five-star review.

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

'Thor: The Dark World' is the movie that I was apprehensive the first one would be. An overly serious space opera, with overcooked special effects, meaningless villains, a backstory that requires copious amounts of exposition, little reason to care about what's happening, basically a stopgap for Disney and Marvel to continue plodding towards the seemingly insurmountable mountain of sequels planned for the future. The first 'Thor' film, under Kenneth Branagh's expert direction, avoided most of the clichés one would expect from a comic book movie about an alien demi-god. The second film, embraces those clichés. Wallows in them. And, eventually, after treading water for 90 minutes, sinks and drowns in mediocrity.

After the "Once upon a time," opening of 'Thor: The Dark World,' where the villains, the backstory, and the legend are explained, it's difficult not to sigh. If you aren't Guillermo Del Toro, and you're starting your movie out with a "This is Why You Should Care About This Movie" prologue, then chances are you've already started off on the wrong foot. Such is the case with 'Thor: The Dark World.' A movie that never recovers from its lackluster beginning, plods through the paces of a Marvel movie without soul (see: 'Iron Man 2') and eventually ends up in a place where nothing noteworthy, or eventful, has happened to characters we've come to care about.

Missing from this 'Thor' film is the clever fish-out-of-water aspect that the first one used to its advantage. With most of the movie taking place millions of light years away from Earth it's almost impossible to connect these characters with Marvel's arcing 'Avengers' storyline. If this were 'The X-Files' 'Thor: The Dark World' would be a "Monster of the Week" episode. The big-budget comic book equivalent of wheel spinning.

There's something discussed about Dark Elves, and a great power that will destroy everything, another evil artifact set to destroy universal existence, but we ultimately know nothing bad is going to happen because Marvel has greenlit sequels into perpetuity. So, once the screenplay has extracted all the humor that made the first one so palatable, confined Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to a prison for much of the film, and severed most ties with Earth-bound action (except for the predictable and underwhelming climax), you're left with a lukewarm comic book movie that is peppered with just enough "something" to throw together a few decent trailers.

So uneventful is 'Thor: The Dark World' that I found myself not even caring about the obvious fallacies – like why do advanced space people who can travel light years in mere seconds, still fight wars with swords? Or, why do none of the other Avengers feel the need to help Thor out when a giant spaceship appears out of nowhere and starts destroying things? After all that was the entire foundation of 'The Avengers.' Instead I sat there, wondering why Kat Dennings, of all people, was given the best comedic lines; contemplating what would've been had Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth been given more time together; pondering why Odin's (Anthony Hopkins) eye patch is so bloody distracting; brooding about the amount of time spent destroying computer generated buildings while character building lagged far behind.

'Thor: The Dark World' is everything I was worried the first 'Thor' would be. Two Frost Giant steps back for the least relatable character in the Avenger clan.

Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

While Aaron's 2D review couldn't offer any insight into the disc's physical release (the review screener showed up in a plain white paper case), I can offer you the skinny on the 3D release - but only because I picked up a copy on street date. (Is Marvel hurting so much that they can't send out 3D screeners?) 'The Dark World' arrives in a cardboard slipcase that mirrors one of Disney's silvery and reflective-bordered "Collector's Edition" Blu-rays. On the cover, the lightning bolt cracking off Thor's hammer is nice and shiny. The blue two-disc elite keepcase houses the 3D and 2D Blu-ray discs. (If you purchase Best Buy's exclusive 3D Steelbook with "Marvel Collectable Packaging," then you're getting a somewhat odd release, as the case has three slots for discs, yet only two discs are included. Talk an awkward-looking set. When you open it, it looks like you're missing a disc - possibly that DVD copy that you were never going to use.) The 3D disc contains nothing but the 3D theatrical trailer for 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier.' All of the special features can only be found on the 2D Blu-ray.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Both the 3D and 2D versions of 'The Dark World' contain strikingly clear and detailed images featuring some nicely crafted Asgardian special effects. The 2D version of 'Thor: The Dark World' fits right into the demo-worthy discussion that most Disney/Marvel movies fit in to - but, while the 3D version is just as flawless, it doesn't contain any eye-popping third-dimensional effects that would cause you to replace 'Gravity' as your new 3D demo disc.

Without a single frame shot in 3D, there are still many great-looking shots in 'The Dark World.' It's interesting how "deep" into the screen most of the film's action takes place. Absent are the in-your-face gags; instead, the film is set way back, giving you the feeling that your TV is a proscenium leading into a deep stage. Some 3D elements are used very effectively - like the villainous red liquid weapon Aether appearing to slowly float towards you, or the 'Star Wars' sequence that offers striking POV visuals of flying through Asgard - but most 3D aspects are fairly standard. Towards the end of the film, a few (presumably) CG backgrounds appear completely flat and void of any depth. This wonky "pop-up book" effect hardly shows up, but you'll immediately notice it when it does.

The oddest aspect of this 3D disc is the fact that neither of the two scenes featured in the credits are in 3D at all. Partway through the credits, there's a lead-in to 'Guardians of the Galaxy' that appears to have been filmed in Some Dude's garage with lighting and video equipment provided by Some Community College's Theatre and A/V department. There's no need to keep the glasses on because it's completely two dimensional. And after the credits end at we get the obvious announcement that "Thor will return," the make-out/monster-dog scene in also in pure 2D. Why transfer all but two minutes of a movie into 3D?

Clarity shimmers in both the 2D and 3D versions, especially since most of the movie is set on the CGI world of Asgard. Wide shots are full of pristine, crystalline cities that look too good to be true. Color is bright and out-of-this-world vivid, none of which is lost when viewed through darkened 3D glasses. The Bifrost bridge is a kaleidoscopic set of rainbow colors, all glittering perfectly. When you remove the 3D glasses, it becomes obvious how much brighter the picture is than it would normally be just to compensate for the glasses.

Up close the detail is every bit as impressive. Faces feature wonderful lines, visible pores, individual hairs and so on. Not once was my eye ever distracted by banding or crushing. Blacks are distinct and deep. Shadows are flawlessly presented. Every bit of the 2D 'Thor: The Dark World' can, and should, be used to show off your HD wares - but I wouldn't replace 'Gravity' when it comes to 3D bragging.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

More high marks here. Provided with a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track, 'Thor: The Dark World' uses every single bit of audio real estate possible. This is an enveloping track. This is one of those 7.1 tracks where you'll wonder how you ever lived without those side channels feeding you extra information.

The surround sound here is perfectly crafted to create an encompassing experience. One that will completely encircle you if you have a proper 7.1 setup. The rear channels are alive with all sorts of action during the fight scenes, as are the side channels. Up front faultless dialogue pours out of the front and center channels. Placement is perfect. Pans seamlessly transfer from rear, to side, to front.

The LFE is huge at times. When the Dark Elves space ship starts crashing into things, make sure any wall hangings in the room are secure, because this thing rumbles. It's a clear and concise pounding too. The bass is well regulated within the spectrum of the other sounds and never steps over its bounds. Everything works together in harmony to provide on helluva mix.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Audio Commentary – Director Alan Taylor is joined by actor Tom Hiddleston, Marvel Studios president Kevin Fiege, and cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau. This is a strange commentary as the tracks have been recorded separately and pieced together. Taylor and Morgenthau are coupled together, while Feige and Hiddleston offer up their own insights. It feels disjointed at times having two separately recorded duos, but there's a lot of worthwhile information about the filming, casting, effects, and Marvel Universe.
  • Marvel One Shot: All Hail the King (HD, 14 min.) – A short film from 'Iron Man 3' writer Drew Pearce. I'll not spoil it in case you haven't seen it. It does involve Ben Kingsley though.
  • A Brother's Journey: Thor & Loki (HD, 32 min.) – A two-part journey through the brotherly camaraderie and, at times, hatred of the two Asgardian princes.
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes (HD, 8 min.) – There are six scenes included here: "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." Many of them offering up information that fills in holes in the movie's story. Optional commentary is included.
  • Scoring 'Thor: The Dark World' (HD, 4 min.) – A short look at how composer Brian Tyler created the music for the film.
  • 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' Exclusive Look (HD, 4 min.) – Since we can't get enough of these Marvel teasers and trailers for trailers, here's an exclusive look at the new 'Captain America' movie.
  • Gag Reel (HD, 4 min.) – A standard gag reel is also included.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no Blu-ray exclusives provided here.

Final Thoughts

'Thor: The Dark World' ends up being a bore compared to the other Marvel films. A romp in space where Thor fights villains that don't matter, Loki fights just to get into the blasted movie, and the earthlings fight to have relevance. There's bound to be a few duds in Marvel's grand master plan of phased rollouts; 'Thor: The Dark World' is certainly one of them. Yet, it's got marvelous audio and amazing 2D video. So, even if the movie does lull one to sleep with its storytelling, at least it'll wake you back up with stunning audio and visuals. With the high marks in the technical departments, the 2D version of 'Thor: The Dark World' is still recommended as a demo-worthy disc to show off - but the 3D disc is nowhere near worthy of bragging about. The 3D video quality is just like the movie itself: not as good as it should be. With films being shot in 3D and conversions getting better all the time, the 3D imagery is simply okay. Despite featuring decent 3D video that's Dark Worlds better than the conversions of old, 'Thor: The Dark World - 3D' won't sell any naysayers on the format.

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

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List Price
$39.99
Amazon
$29.99 (25%)
3rd Party
$29.03
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»

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