Following on from Thor and The Avengers, we join Thor back in Asgard, where he is fighting for peace in the nine realms. My review of Thor: The Dark World after the jump.
While Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is busy fighting for peace, his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is being held in Asgard’s prison at the orders of his father and Asgard’s King, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), as punishment for his actions in The Avengers. When an ancient matter known as ‘Aether’ makes its way back into the universe after being hidden for centuries, the threat of a return to the darkness and evil times of long ago becomes very real. The reappearance of Aether coincides with a rare cosmic event known as ‘the convergence’ – a moment when the worlds align and the barriers between them become weak and break down. This event also impacts Earth, where a team of scientists, including Jane (Natalie Portman) are working on solutions to safeguard the planet from the objects and creatures that could potentially come through the holes in the barriers.
The slightly convoluted nature of Thor: The Dark World‘s plot results in a sluggish first hour. There’s a lot going on and many different players involved and the film spends a lot of time setting the events up and introducing the Asgardians, Dark Elves and human scientists. It’s only once the threat that the Aether becomes clear that the film reduces the exposition and gets on with the action. Battles in Asgard and on Earth are equally impressive, with London serving as the site for the action on Earth. The idea of the holes in the barrier was used to great effect during the climatic scenes, with people and objects being propelled to all manner of locations. It was the scenes in London that I enjoyed the most, partly because of the action, but mostly because of the humour.
Thankfully Thor: The Dark World has the great sense of humour and self-awareness that Marvel films of late seem to possess. The film pokes fun at its hero Thor, putting him in awkward/out-of-place situations and letting us humans laugh at his expense. It was during these comedic moments than Hemsworth impressed the most – it’s easier for his natural charisma and charm to shine when he’s cracking a joke, rather than cracking a skull. The supporting cast of scientists including Kat Dennings & Stellan Skarsgård added much to the humour, with Dennings in particular amusing with her utterly unperturbed reaction to extraordinary events.
However the real star of Thor isn’t the title character, but his brother Loki, played pitch-perfectly by Tom Hiddleston. Loki is a character with depth, a character with agendas and thought-processes that the audience isn’t always made aware of. It’s that unpredictability and brilliant intelligence which makes him so enjoyable to watch. Just when you think you have him pegged down, he up and surprises you.
Thor: The Dark World is certainly an improvement on Thor and builds well on the events which occurred in The Avengers. It will be interesting to see how the outcome of this film feeds into the overarching Marvel Universe in subsequent films.
By Sam McCosh
Director: Alan Taylor
Screenplay: Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba
Runtime: 120 mins
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: October 31 2013; USA: November 8 2013