Review: Thor: The Dark World -3/5

Director:  Alan Taylor

Certificate: 12A

Cast:  Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Christopher Eccleston, Idris Elba, Kat Dennings, Anthony Hopkins

Running Time:  112 min

 

Plot: 5000 years after their defeat at the hands of the Asgardians, Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) leads his Dark Elves once more in an attempt to wipe out the universe using ‘The Ether’. It is down to demi-god Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to stop him but as always his treacherous half-brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) gets in the way.

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Alan Taylor is perfectly suited as the replacement for Thor director Kenneth Branagh- this may only be his fourth film but the has a wealth of experience in the medium of television (most prominently The Sopranos) and is coming hot off his work on world beating fantasy drama Game of Thrones. This sequel is darker, longer and far more ambitious than Thor’s first movie outing in 2011. The Dark World goes far beyond Thor’s pop tart eating, earth bound realities- Marvel have definitely upped their game.

Thor: The Dark World starts off a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… but no really, it begins 5000 years in the past in a distant, magical realm: A cataclysmic battle is being fought between the Dark Elves and Thor’s Grandad’s army, as the wicked Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) attempts to wipe out the Universe using a destructive force known as ‘The Ether’. The Asgardians are victorious and the Dark Elves vanquished. Jump forward to the present day; while investigating a physics anomaly Thor’s (Hemsworth) lover Jane Foster (Portman) inadvertently enters a portal and becomes host to ‘The Ether’.  The God of Thunder brings her to Asgard for help but the plan goes awry when the now re-awakened Dark Elves turn up and lay waste to his home world.

Interestingly, Thor: The Dark World feels almost nothing like a superhero movie and much more like a fantasy adventure. While this might sound bad, it actually proves quite refreshing. Alan Taylor has fully embraced the Norse mythology and the film’s finest moments come from the exploration of the mystical realms and god-like cultures. The scale is epic and the fight sequences are out of this world- in fact they often span multiple planets. Attention to detail also makes the film a delight to watch; the grand sets and outlandish Viking attire help to immerse you in this breath taking environment.  Surprisingly for a film with the word Dark in the title, it visually stunning, one might even say glorious, though it would be a stretch to recommend seeing it in 3D. (£16 for a student ticket!!??)

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Such an extraordinary back drop is necessary to accommodate the larger than life characters. Chris Hemsworth does a great job yet again as Thor, while his ridiculous physique makes him look more and more like a toy. A really big, really detailed toy. Meanwhile Christopher Eccleston stands out as the revenge hungry Malekith- Eccleston has described himself as a ‘living special effect’ on set, such was the extent of his costume/ make up preparations, but his malevolent performance shines through. Natalie Portman is slightly less believable as Jane- not entirely her fault, the script being the weak link in The Dark World’s chainmail. Back (mostly due to popular demand) is Tom Hiddleston as god of mischief Loki. While his antics in Avengers Assemble were somewhat disinteresting, his character has plenty more depth this time around and ‘Hiddlestoners’ will lap it up. There are a whole host of supporting roles, but Kat Dennings- of 2 Broke Girls fame- is out of place as the only one who can’t act.

Despite being an action filled block buster, Thor: The Dark World features some intelligent character development. Stakes are high and the conflict is satisfying but the occasionally wearisome dialogue drags it down a little. Especially fun is the third act, a punch up which turns into a universe wide clusterf***. As an Asgardian might say… this film, I like it…ANOTHER!

 

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