Thor: The Dark World Review

Thor: The Dark World

Thor.

Possibly the most unpronounceable name in the Marvel superhero canon.

If like me, you’re Irish that is.

This didn’t really bother me before, as I’ve never had much need to refer to the Norse hammer-thrower on a regular basis.

He always seemed a little grandiose, a little pompous and, well, a little boring.

His latest cinematic offering though, Thor: The Dark World is beginning to sway me.

The story begins with the Nine Realms in chaos and Thor and his buddies carrying out somewhat of a mop-up job. Loki is safely imprisoned at Asgard, and love interest Jane is working in old Blighty.

But even the charms of Chris O’Dowd cannot heal her heartbreak.

Then evil raises its head, as only it can, in the heavily made up form of Christopher Eccleston as Malekith.

Now Malekith is a pretty disgruntled Dark Elf who’s been searching for the Aether, a mystical power source that’ll help him destroy not only our world, but eight others as well.

Through some astrophysical jiggery pokery, Jane stumbles upon the Aether and the plots start to converge.

Director Alan Taylor takes over the reins from Kenneth Brannagh here and, despite only having one non-TV movie under his belt to date, pulls together a solid and entertaining film.

And given the subject matter, Taylor’s previous work on Game Of Thrones has clearly not been wasted.

Whereas Iron Man 3 took a completely pared-down approach in its first post-Avengers outing, Thor goes the other way and cranks it decidedly up a notch, boasting grander and more elaborate set pieces than its predecessor.

The film also crucially achieves what its DC counterparts have been failing to do, and injects some much needed fun to proceedings.

The main players, having all been established in the sterner-faced first outing, are clearly more comfortable with their characters and the interrelationships.

The comedy beats are excellently timed and the film expertly juggles the shifts between Asgard and Earth, with the London setting and Thor taking the tube adding to the humour.

The movie also balances its two clear influences, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, whilst retaining a style all of its own.

What the film does get wrong, as usual for the last slew of Marvel movies, is the villain.

The Dark Elves may look cool and menacing, but they lack personality.

And Malekith is frankly boring; the cutaway shots to his gloomy spaceship are perfunctory to the spirit of adventure running throughout the film.

Fortunately then, fan favourite Loki is on hand as a supporting antagonist.

Or is he?

Loki’s character arc has been studiously kept under wraps, so far be it from me to spoil that here. But Hiddleston and Hemsworth clearly have a lot of fun sparring with each other.

Ultimately, these superhero films are tailored for two core audiences: the fan boys and the newcomers.

If, like me, you fall into the latter group, chances are you’ll leave the cinema highly entertained.

Conor Brennan

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October 2013
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