Thor: The Dark World (12a)
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston & Christopher Eccleston
Running time: 120mins
Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.
So, here it is, the sequel to my own personal favourite (not counting Avengers) Phase one movie and it was, in many – most, in fact – ways well worth the wait.
Picking up two years after the first movie and several months after the events of Avengers, Thor: The Dark World doesn’t suffer from character introductions and wastes no time in getting into the plot.
Malekith (Eccleston) is an ancient Dark Elf, a creature who has only one purpose; to return the galaxy to the darkness from which it came. Believing the life and light that covers the universe is an abomination, he raged war thousands of years ago and was defeated, we’re told in the opening monologue, by Odin’s (Anthony Hopkins) father and was banished into space after his ultimate weapon, the Aether, was taken by the Asgardians for safe keeping.
However, the Asgardians now believe him long dead, the stuff of childhood stories and legend, so when he returns all are taken unaware….
Thor TDW is a movie that strolls confidently onto screen. It looks great, losing a lot of the glitter of Brannagh’s first movie, Taylor creates an Asgard that looks tired and slightly battered, but is certainly more lived in and full of life that Brannagh’s was. we get a real feel for its people and culture in this movie, Taylor obviously flexing some of the muscle he earned on Game of Thrones.
However, like Game of Thrones, it does take its time in places and as a result the pacing is all over the place for much of the first hour or so. Don’t get me wrong, it’s never less than entertaining but it could lose some of the flabbier scenes without losing any of the story – Odin at one point redelivers almost verbatim his opening monologue again during the movie and although it makes sense in the movie, it was just another example of a scene that could have been trimmed.
Another problem is with Eccleston’s Malekith. There’s nothing wrong with his performance, he snarls and menaces in all the right places and talks about how just his mission is, but sadly he just never really registers as a villain – for a creature set out to destroy the entire universe he just feels inconsequential.
On a personal note, while I enjoyed Stellan Skarsgård immensely in the movie, his relegation to near comic relief was a concern – no matter how good he was.
However, where the movie truly finds its strength is once again in Tom Hiddleston’s performance as Loki. He gives a layered performance here that is more complex than all the moustache twirling we’ve seen from him in previous movies –he is forced into an alliance with a sworn enemy for a mutual benefit and he totally nails it.
His relationship with Thor is both fun and complex, with his hatred bubbling just below the surface and again, as we saw very briefly in Avengers, he doubts himself and his character is all the better for it.
All the principals do well in their roles. Portman is as beautiful and real as she was in the first movie, although this time she has more to do, Hopkins shouts his way through the movie but still manages to make it look awesome and Hemsworth as Thor is everything you’ve come to expect. He has made the character his own and laces it with just enough sorrow, humour, rage and nobility to keep his character on the sunnyside of – ironically – two dimensional.
Overall a fun, if slow to start, adventure that really, even more than Avengers, opens the Marvel universe up… clearly this will tie in to Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers 3 in a big way. So well worth the wait and arguably better than Iron Man 3, this is a movie that, for all its faults, I feel will warrant repeated viewings.
Oh and there’s two after-credit scenes so real fanboys need to wait until the very end…