He caused a little trouble in New Mexico a couple of years back, then graciously showed up in New York to save the world last January, and now, furthering the money-making machine that is the Marvel Studios powerhouse, Thor is back on our screens once more in Thor: The Dark World; the God of Thunder’s greatest standalone adventure to date.
Bigger, better, and far more developed than the first movie, The Dark World sees legendary God (Chris Hemsworth) cleaning up the mess caused by his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in The Avengers, by re-asserting Asgard’s dominance across the nine realms, all the while looking to return to his beloved Jane Foster (Natalie Portman, Black Swan); the pretty young Earth scientist who accidentally stumbles upon a wormhole in London, and threatens to unleash a power so great it could not only destroy our world, but each of the nine realms.
Accidentally uncovering this evil power awakens a race of Dark Elves thought to be long extinct; a race led by a man know as Malekith (Christopher Eccleston, Doctor Who) who’s hellbent on using said power to destroy each of the realms, and avenge a war lost to Asgard eons ago; not only reigniting the war that Thor’s grandad fought to win, but bringing said war to both Asgard itself, and Greenwich, London, all in time for the once-in-an-Asgardian-lifetime even which sees each of the worlds align perfectly.
Still clearly fitting the bill as the big, buff, beefy, God of Thunder, Chris Hemsworth is once again on top form as the Shakespearian Thor, and once more surrounded by strong cast-mates; including both Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo (reprising their roles as Thor’s father and mother respectively, and playing every bit the classic medieval king and queen they’re supposed to be), as well as returning stars Stellan Skarsgaard and Kat Dennings (the welcome, slightly comedic, and slightly less memorable, scientists filling out the call sheet); though however good the supporting stars may be, and however strong a leading man Hemsworth has become, there’s no getting away from the fact he’s once more abundantly overshadowed by his onscreen brother Tom Hiddleston.
Hiddleston’s Loki is simply fantastic (there’s no denying that), and played to perfection by an amazing actor; he’s the ultimate villain; unwavering in his appearance as the apathetic genius, the the benevolent manipulator, the spoilt, tantrum-having, baby of the family, who can be emotional when the need arises, strong whenever he must, and unassumingly funny at every possible turn, and it’s when Thor is forced to free his brother from the shackles of an Asgardian prison cell, and the two team-up together, the The Dark World really hits it’s stride.
Hemsworth and Hiddleston have an amazing chemistry together, and the way in which the two banter with one another is infinitely watchable, though as brilliant as Hiddleston/Loki maybe, he’s neither the star or the villain here, Thor obviously takes precedent, and here faces off against an instantly forgettable foe in Malekith; a Dark Elf whose underdeveloped character has all the potency of a wet flannel, and despite being portrayed by a more than competent actor (Christopher Eccleston) is neither engaging nor especially fearful in comparison to the sibling-dream-team; even Jane Foster (played by real-life, published, scientist, and accomplished actress, Natalie Portman), while undeniably likeable, is little more than bumbling eye-candy, and a mere trophy woman for the big boy.
Yet at the same time, over the course of two films (three for Thor, Loki, and Skarsgaard’s Eric Selvic) we’ve grown to know these characters, and can see here they’re all far more developed, realistic, and endearing than in their previous incarnations. Though it’s not just the characters that have grown, as the action sequences are far bigger than the first Thor, and the special effects (keeping up a Marvel tradition) are fantastic; never wavering during off-world skirmishes, an attack on Asgard itself, a prison breakout, or the final confrontation in Greenwich.
Still while the battles may be bigger, and far far better, than before, they weren’t all they could have been in places; the prison escape was executed beautifully, yet the invasion of Asgard didn’t being the full emotional effect it should have, and Thor’s first battle (re-asserting Asgard’s dominance over the realms) would have easily felt at home in an episode of Stargate SG-1. That, coupled with some poor editing and glaringly obvious continuity errors mean that Thor: The Dark World is far from a perfect film.
It has it’s hang-ups, and certain scenes really could have used a little more impact, but despite the continuity problems, the poor editing, somewhat placid supporting characters and ineffective villain, Thor’s second outing is nothing if not fun; the characters, the battles, the special effects, and the entire mantra of the movie is both bigger, and better, than before; it’s well worth watching, and easily the best standalone superhero movie Marvel have released since Iron Man 2. Watch it, enjoy it, and sit through every second of the credit sequence – Marvel always rewards you for doing so.