“Thor: The Dark World” is just as dark as it is comical. This family-friendly film is your typical superhero movie with a beaten-down protagonist whose daring actions restore peace to the world – except that the protagonist is a demigod. A funny demigod, too.

Comic book fans and superhero fanatics will recall 2011’s “Thor,” the original story directed by Kenneth Branagh that tells how the arrogant Thor (Chris Hemsworth, above) becomes a superhero. “Thor: The Dark World” is the superior of the two; this time around, we don’t know how things are going to end, and the attempts at witty humor actually succeed at being humorous.

The film starts with a voice-over from Odin (Anthony Hopkins), the mightiest God of Asgard, explaining that millennia ago there was a baneful Elf named Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) who tried to use a supernatural, pre-universal form of weaponized energy to plunge the universe into a dark void. Sounds like a lot for the first few minutes of a film, doesn’t it? Still, it’s a bold opening, keeping the viewer interested and explaining the necessary context needed to comprehend the plot.

There’s certainly no fault in the film’s plot or visual effects. The computer-generated images used to create fight and flight sequences is one of the film’s main selling points. The only goofs appear when the characters play with the laws of physics as if they are all gods. In one scene, Thor and counterpart female protagonist Jane (Natalie Portman, inset), travel from Earth to Asgard in mere seconds via a wormhole in space. Then the final fight sequence between Thor and Malekith takes place on several different planets thanks to dimensional portals that happen to exist all over downtown London.

Viewers will like the supporting cast and will love Loki (Tom Hiddleston, top left) for all the reasons they hate him. The secondary scientists Darcy (Kat Dennings), Erik (Stellan Skarsgård), and intern Ian (Jonathan Howard) are just as likable as the leads and steal the spotlight with their sly humor.

One point of note: You need not have seen “Thor” or “The Avengers” to follow what goes on in “Thor: The Dark World.” Despite references to “the battle of New York,” and a cameo from Captain America, this is a standalone movie that is related but not completely connected to Marvel Studios’ other superhero films. However, this raises another point of concern for viewers. We’re watching Thor fight his way from one bad guy to another, thinking, “He looks like he needs some help. Why doesn’t he just call the Avengers?” Short answer: The other Avengers are busy right now. And if the director, Alan Taylor, decided to include Iron Man and the Hulk in this movie, he would have to scrap the title “Thor: The Dark World” and replace it with “The Avengers 2.”

Overall, “Thor: The Dark World” is another entertaining superhero film. It’s worth the $10 ticket, and I recommend shelling out another $3.50 to see it in 3-D.

Kyle Sims is a senior at Amherst High School.