Cert: 12 A Runtime: 120 mins Director: Alan Taylor Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddelston, Idris Elba, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgård, Christopher Eccelstone and Anthony Hopkins
Some believe that before the universe, there was nothing. They’re wrong. There was darkness… and it has survived
Marvel’s phase 2 is in full swing with the return of Thor. We are returning to the God of thunder with a bang and a lot of old faces (especially Anthony Hopkins) So what is Thor: The Dark World about? These are troubling times for Thor (Chris Hemsworth), as he struggles with the responsibility of ascending the throne of Asgard. A year after the events in New York, the nine realms are under attack by a shadowy enemy. Odin (Anthony Hopkins) reveals that before the universe existed, there was darkness. Now a vengeful ancient race led by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) has returned to restore that darkness. Facing this unprecedented terrifying force, Thor embarks on his most dangerous and personal mission. Not only must he re-unite with his human astrophysicist love interest Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), but he also needs the help of his imprisoned adoptive half-brother and nemesis, Loki (Tom Hiddleston).
This sequel comes with virtually no risk and a lead actor who is now a bona fide A-lister, but it also comes with much higher hopes. Swapping Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespearian influence for Alan Taylor’s Game of Thrones experience, The Dark World has decreased it’s regality and amped up it’s grittiness, yet thankfully retains its sense of fun. There’s definitely a feel of greater peril here, with no-one but Thor seemingly out of Taylor’s reach for a fatal ending, however for every scene of despair or Dark Elven malevolence, there’s a hilarious gag waiting around the corner. The action set-pieces don’t disappoint either; the climactic battle is inventive, if not mind-blowing, and a couple of earlier melees – including an attack on Asgard – are exhilarating and keep the pace moving swiftly along. What elevates this follow up though is the pairing of Thor and Loki, who, after two previous movies to build up their brotherly baggage and perfect their repartee, are scintillating whether in the process of a daring escape or just engaging in some general chit chat. Fulfils its blockbuster quota of action spectacle whilst adding a healthy dose of spot-on humour and sharply written dialogue – what’s not to like?
For me, Thor was one of the best superhero movies to come out in recent time. Chris Hemsworth, despite having the less flashy role next to Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, is really very good. What made Thor so likable in the first film was that, despite his overconfidence and head-strong nature, he went on a character journey that changed him. He grew as a character and, thanks to Hemsworth’s charm, you felt for him. He had lots of great little moments. Then he got royally screwed in The Avengers and was made a mockery of, which did a major disservice to him. This time around, he’s back to strutting his stuff and doing what he does best: wielding his mighty hammer like no one else can.As for Hiddleston as Loki, I wasn’t blown away by him originally, I grew to like him in The Avengers and felt he was also made the butt of a joke in that film at the expense of his character. Now he’s back once again, this time to make us wonder if he really *has* turned over a new leaf or is still as bad as ever. Evidently, his popularity is what keeps bringing him back. However, I personally feel it’s about time we got a break from him. He shares some good scenes with Thor, Jane Foster gives him a much-deserved slap, and he even gets to have the odd hero moment. If only the films could let him go. You know it’s all about Loki when the film basically begins and ends with him. It almost doesn’t even feel like Thor’s film anymore.
But how can you jusify the word “dark” in the title? While being dark and serious is not really a problem to this modern era of blockbusters, the film never felt natural for it. Though, the first movie was more special when it was focused on the drama, here it definitely feels force. There are those “tragic” or “emotional” scenes when it feels so contrived for the sake of fitting and pleasing the audience who seek for sheer deepness. The result is surprisingly not compelling, which makes you wish it was handled by Ken Branagh again. The film also suffers with a weak plot, there are large parts where the good guys are lingering to brood, making plans, and just goofing around while they’re surrounded by a formidable enemy. Those moments they waste pretty much kills the momentum.The movie is better when it stays loyal to the roots of a Marvel picture. Staying in the action and the comedy is when the film felt more comfortable, although it may get out of hand. The cast gives plenty of life. Director Alan Taylor seems to be more interested in creating inventive action set pieces and featuring stuff that we don’t normally see in the genre, which helps a lot to bring pure energy within the adventure, while the CGI effects bring massive scale in any world they stop in to. But none the less it’s a good winter blockbuster.
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