Sunday, 1 December 2013
Review: Thor: The Dark World (UK Cert 12A)
The eighth entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the second film in Phase 2, Thor: The Dark World sees the titular god of thunder (Chris Hemsworth) facing a threat from the Dark Elves- led by Malekith The Accursed (Christopher Eccleston)- who seek to destroy the Nine Realms by using an ancient weapon called the Aether at a time known as the Convergence, when all the realms are aligned. In London, Dr Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) starts to investigate strange anomalies with the laws of physics. It's only a matter of time before the separated lovers are reunited but the path of true love doesn't run smooth with the fate of the Nine Realms resting on Thor's shoulders and a very credible threat to Jane's safety. Add into this the machinations of the imprisoned Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and you have an absolute rip-roarer of a film which meets the level set by Thor and occasionally exceeds it.
It's a film that's huge in scale, going from icy wastes to the opulent splendour of Asgard to a run-down factory in London- taking in vast desert worlds and, finally, absolutely wrecking Greenwich. Alan Taylor, no stranger to sprawling fantasy epics (having directed half a dozen episodes of Games Of Thrones), is a safe pair of hands in the director's chair. Whilst Kenneth Branagh brought an almost Shakespearean feel to the first Thor, Taylor brings the Game Of Thrones aesthetic to Thor: The Dark World, which is no bad thing.
Performance-wise (and this will come to no surprise to anyone who's seen either the first Thor or The Avengers), Tom Hiddleston steals the show. His performance as Loki is just superb- he's scheming, conniving, insidious and downright evil in places and yet is likeable and charismatic with it. But- with the possible exception of Natalie Portman (who looks like she's phoning it in on occasion)- the rest of the cast are strong. Chris Hemsworth seems right at home in the armour, giving a strong leading performance. Idris Elba gets more to do as the guardian Heimdall whilst Jaimie Alexander is great as warrior maiden Sif. Kat Dennings gets more of the comedy relief role as Darcy but she's good at it so it doesn't matter.
Christopher Eccleston is great as Malekith, but it does feel as if there's a lot of his story missing (or maybe left on the cutting-room floor). The focus of the film is definitely more on the romance between Thor and Jane, and the family politics of the ruling house of Asgard - the Dark Elves feel more like a plot device which is a shame because visually they look imposing and there are good actors beneath the prosthetics not having much to do.
Visually, it's absolutely sublime so massive kudos to the CGI teams and the visual effects teams for some utterly sterling work. It's also genuinely funny in places (there's a great sight gag involving a drinks can). There's a frankly genius Avengers-related cameo (which is done very cleverly indeed) and the first of the mid-credits scenes nicely links to one of the upcoming Marvel releases. They also have left a few plot strands open for a third Thor movie if they want to. And since there doesn't seem to be anything coincidental or unplanned in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I would say a third outing is a pretty safe bet.
Rating: 5 out of 5