Thor: The Dark World – Chris Hemsworth suits up again as the Marvel(lous) God of Thunder

After ‘Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ thrilled in Avengers Assemble (2012) and Iron Man/Tony Stark took his (possible) final bow in Iron Man 3 (2013), the epic Marvel superhero franchise continues to spin ever onward into the next story in the series. This time it’s the Asgardian God’s turn back in the spotlight for the first sequel to the magnificent Thor (2011), with yet more muscle-flexing, sibling rivalry, a dash of romance and of course the ever reliable mega battles to save the world…or more than one world this time.

Thor: The Dark World (2013) has a lot to live up to though. The first Thor was a great action flick but with plenty of Shakespearean grit thanks to the credentials of director Kenneth Branagh, a great story and superb performances. Not only this, but following the amazing Avengers Assemble that had it all – action, fun, comedy – is a very daunting task. Iron Man 3 just about managed it with extra humour and the ever reliable presence of Robert Downey Jr. And while Thor: The Dark World doesn’t quite live up to the awesomeness of The Avengers, mostly because that film had the added novelty of four heroes for the price of one film, it still takes a step up from Thor with even more thrilling set pieces and comedy moments.

This sequel also benefits from being able to drop us into the action immediately – no lengthy introductions necessary this time. Following on directly from the storyline of The Avengers, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has returned to Asgard to keep the peace between the Nine Realms while his villainous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has been incarcerated in prison. However as with the first Thor film, the plot isn’t restricted there. It jumps between the world of Asgard and Earth, this time London where astrophysicist Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) has carried on her research and waited for 2 years for Thor to return to her, but with no sign. However when the evil Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) steps into the frame looking for a substance that will throw the entire universe into darkness, Thor might be closer than Jane thinks.

When you take a step back to look at the storyline here though, it is obvious that it is really the same old, same old – bad guy wants massive MacGuffin for power (here it’s something called the Aether), our hero has to stop him. Despite this though, and despite what is also one of the most confusing of all the Marvel plots there has been before, this doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the film. It is still hugely entertaining to watch from start to finish. And the complex storyline? It really doesn’t matter when you’re so wrapped up in the action, the humour and the wonder of the Marvel world.

Director Alan Taylor has also made one of the best looking Marvel films since the first Thor. Mostly known for his TV directorial work, in particular for his work on Game of Thrones, Taylor brings a grittier, down and dirty style to the big screen and to the battles, fortifying the fantastical worlds with realism and spectacle. The design is also brilliantly realised again – Asgard looks beautiful and London looks suitably dreary in comparison, while the other darker Realms are mostly vast, grey, emptiness.

The other draw for a lot of people will obviously be seeing the same cast reprising the roles from the first film. However for a lot of people (you know who you are) it will be seeing Chris Hemsworth play the larger-than-life God again. And as before he is perfect in the role – all booming voice and powerful speeches (and punches), with a touch of childish naivety at the same time. The other role played to perfection once more is the superb Tom Hiddleston as Loki his mischievous brother. He’s smarmy, cold yet RIDICULOUSLY charming at the same time. Not that I’m biased or anything. In this sequel there are also many more opportunities to see the brilliant chemistry Hemsworth and Hiddleston have together onscreen as the feuding siblings, including a couple more welcome comedy moments between them later on. With Loki stepping out of the main villain spotlight this time it offers the chance for a new baddie, and a much more menacing one at that: the Dark Elf Malekith, played by a nearly unrecognisable Christopher Eccleston. Though he is covered in prosthetics and make-up Eccleston projects himself brilliantly making Malekith a calculating and ruthless villain, as well as completely terrifying.

Another returning character to the world of Thor is Natalie Portman as the intelligent Dr. Jane Foster. Portman herself is great and funny when she needs to be, but Jane is once again a bit of an ineffective character. At first it seems that she will have more to do in this sequel, yet she quickly becomes another female in a superhero film who runs the risk of falling into the damsel in distress category. She also suffers the problem of being onscreen with Darcy a lot of the time played superbly by Kat Dennings – literally any scene with her is guaranteed to be fab and hilarious. In fact, give Darcy her own film NOW (or at least let her be in The Avengers sequel…).

A lot of the fun in the first Thor came from seeing the titular God trying to cope on Earth without his powers. Thor: The Dark World doesn’t have that element this time, but the humour is instead found in plenty of other places. With the extra comedy plus some excellent action sequences, including one of the best climatic battle scenes of any Marvel film since the battle in New York in Avengers Assemble, it makes for a much more entertaining film than its predecessor. Not only all this, but it has two extra mid/post-credit scenes (one which cleverly sets up future Marvel storylines and the other which isn’t really needed, but is still fun) and there is also an AMAZING mid-way cameo. All-in-all Thor: The Dark World is brilliantly helmed and directed by Alan Taylor and is a definite step-up from the first Thor film in terms of the scope of the narrative and the epic action. Next in the Marvel canon is Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Marvel really love their overlong colon titles). Here’s hoping they can continue to go onwards and upwards and carry on their superhero winning streak.

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~ by square-eyed-geek on November 18, 2013.

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