Director: Alan Taylor Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston
Marvel titles pretty much rule current popular cinema. Films based around Iron Man, Captain America and The Avengers have all racked up healthy old stacks of cash at the box office, all based on characters we’re familiar with in a now very established fantasy universe. On the whole, you know what you’re going to get with a Marvel film (I shall ignore Ghost Rider and The Punisher films for now).
The story of Thor:The Dark World begins after that of The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble depending on which country you’re reading in), with Thor having battled to save New York from his brother Loki and his invading alien horde. Back at home on Asgard, Thor is being groomed for rule by his father Odin, battling to save the nine realms from various enemies. Meanwhile Natalie Portman’s Jane is living in London and finds herself becoming host to a powerful energy called Aether, which in turn awakens the dark Elf Malekith (the brilliant Christopher Eccleston). True to Marvel form, battles ensue, romance blossoms and gags are thrown around to keep it all from slipping in to pompousness.
Although it treads largely familiar ground, The Dark World ups the ante from the first film, with more audacious battles and special effects, while keeping the warm edge that we all love about the Marvel superhero films.
As you’d expect the stars all shine. Chris Hemsworth is a sturdy, dependable Thor, keeping his gaze steely and jawline chiselled, providing a perfect foil for Tom Hiddlestone’s Loki. As in his other two outings as in the role, Hiddlestone treads a fine line between being slightly camp and deliciously calculating, while playing a couple of key moments with real tenderness. There is also a completely gratuitous scene with Chris Hemsworth with his shirt off. I shall offer no judgement on that.
The great thing about the Marvel universe is that it has a sense of humour, and some of the best moments in the film are those where comedy comes to the fore. In particular Hiddlestone making excellent use of the phrase “ Ta-da!” (which reduced me to giggles), and Stellan Skarsgard’s turn around Stone Henge would take pride of place in most comedy films. There are also a couple of very funny scenes with Chris O’Dowd playing Jane’s Earth-bound suitor that should get honourable mentions.
There are great fights, great baddies, great jokes… Yes, it’s derivative and yes, it’s not telling us anything new about our lives, but God damn it, it’s FUN.