According to Celtic myths, Samhain, the first of November, marks the end of summer — when ghosts, spirits and fairies can haunt our world. People honored the dead by dressing up in costume, going door-to-door for food — a tradition memorialized in the modern Halloween festivities.
So perhaps it’s fitting that “Thor: The Dark World” was released in Samhain (the Irish word for November) — days after U.S. daylights savings time. The dead return to our world as the day grows shorter and darker.
The second of Marvel’s post-Avenger’s films (the first was this summer’s “Iron Man 3”), “Thor: The Dark World” chronicles the Convergence — a once in a blue moon phenomenon when nine planets overlap and objects can be seamlessly transported from one place to another.
Normally, that would be a magical wonder — one that astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) explains with science. But the legend of Thor’s made out of the stuff from myths and fairy tales.
No, not Disney’s “Tarzan” (although Jane and Thor did have a few Tarzan moments when he fell out of the sky in the first Thor movie).
This fairy tale is made of grimmer stuff — the kind where fairies stole you away like the Pied Piper.
The dark fairies in this story are from the Unseelie Court, led by dark elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston). Malekith created a liquid weapon called Aether, which is supposed to bring darkness to the world.
While Asgardians stopped Malekith’s evil plot years ago, the Convergence would be the perfect opportunity for the dark elves to try again: unleashing darkness on all nine worlds, including Earth.
That’s the backdrop to this movie, and Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely’s screenplay’s layered like Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
On one level, they’re dealing with the aftermath of “The Avenger’s” and the alien invasion of New York City; prisoner-of-war Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is brought back to his home planet in chains. His hammer-wielding older brother, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), fights to fix Loki’s mess.
On another level, the writers are threading the plot of the mediocre 2011 “Thor” film — which plays out like a typical Shakespearean rom-com. Jane, her snarky sidekick Darcy (Kat Dennings) and their mentor Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) return, studying anomalies in Earth’s gravity. Jane feels slighted by her crush Thor, who never contacted her after he abruptly left.
Luckily, the dark elves play matchmaker, and their nefarious plot reunite Jane and Thor.
“Thor: The Dark World” offers a much more dynamic plot-line than its predecessor. Unlike the first Thor movie, which divided its time evenly between the wild magical woods of Asgard and the rigid mundane cities of Earth, time spent in Earth’s brief.