No spoilers here… ‘No, thank you.’
I saw Thor: The Dark World (TTDW) recently, in 3D, at London’s BFI IMAX and, aside from a few inconsistencies, its looking like the house of M has yet another hit on its hands. As part of the more mythical part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Thor has a bit more freedom when it comes to realising the world(s) that Asgardians both live in and visit and, in this reviewer’s opinion, is a better franchise for it.
But there’s more to it than that.
In a post-Avengers world, it’s obviously prudent to have a good idea of where this story picks up from. With Loki, chief villain from both the first Thor film and last summer’s monster smash, Avengers Assemble, again front and centre in this norse god outing, I would strongly recommend seeing the aforementioned films first.
Oh yeah, that and the fact Loki pretty much snatches the film from right under Thor’s nose and completely makes it his own any and every time he’s on screen. Tom Hiddleston is having so much fun here and, somewhat surprisingly, brings an emotional depth to Loki that we’ve only seen glimpses of before. Damn, he’s good.
He’s not the only character who shines in TTDW either. Almost everyone we met the first time around gets to grow in their own way. From Sif’s subtle intentions (and subsequent jealously, equally subtle – nicely done, Jaimie Alexander) around being Thor’s one and only, to Idris Elba getting his badass on as the all-seeing guardian of the Rainbow
Road Bridge, Heimdall. Both of Thor’s parents get their own respective arcs too, with Rene Russo flexing both her emotional (and literal) muscles as Queen Frigga, and Sir Anthony Hopkins by her side, as Odin, bringing the gravitas that only the All Father of the nine realms should have.
And the new faces, what of them?
Well, both Christopher Eccleston and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, are barely recognisable as the leaders (first and second in command respectively) of TTDW’s main antagonists, The Dark Elves.
The latter even more so when he’s transformed into the nigh-indestructible beast known as Kurse. Easily beaten, these Elves are not – and Kurse is one formidable opponent for the eponymous man/god/alien. Moving back to Eccleston, I had read a fair bit about his character, Malekith, not being fully developed or not being explored enough but I have to disagree. Not all bad guys need to be made human, not all bad guys need to be given the bit of colour that almost gives them justification for their belief system, and ultimately their actions. Some bad guys just want stuff to be DARK AND NASTY. That’s what Malekith wants and that, combined with the way he chases that goal endlessly, makes him a pretty awesome evil doer, in my book anyway.
Where there’s evil, there must be good, and good is in good shape indeed with Chris Hemsworth stepping up to play Thor for the third time. The petulance has gone and we see a wiser, more thoughtful Thor who no longer falls for Loki’s tricks so easily and oft-leads with the upper hand, as opposed to rushing in and fighting from a disadvantage. It’s a healthy change, and Good Character Development is always nice to see. Seeing him finally lock eyes with Jane Foster (a hardly-stretched Natalie Portman) is great, and you can tell that they’re meant to be. Aww.
If I had to draw negatives it would be only in two ways. First, with Portman finally making it to Asgard, being dressed like the locals, and getting to spend time with Thor – it all feels a little bit a Padme/Star Wars Episode II. And I’m not kidding when I say that is a very bad thing. It only happened a couple of times, but it grated.
The other thing would be tonality.
Let’s get one thing absolutely clear: TTDW is funny. Laugh out loud hilarious even, at some points. But the juxtaposition of that against the backdrop of some truly darker moments sometimes can be quite jarring. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a tough gig trying to maintain lightness amongst the dark – and the original Thor had its fair share of good laughs – but sometimes it felt like TTDW couldn’t make its mind up. Like I said, if I had to draw negatives. Those would be the two that I would choose.
Is it worth seeing in 3D? I don’t think so. But do try and see it an IMAX because honestly, there’s no better cinematic experience than seeing a film like Thor ON THE BIGGEST SCREEN POSSIBLE.
Overall, Thor: The Dark World is an enjoyable ride, and definitely worth seeing at the cinema. So go and do that at your earliest opportunity.
PS. There are TWO post-credits sequences. One midway through, and one right at the end. One of them is a now-typical Marvel teaser sign post, the other is just for laughs… You’ll love them both.
PPS. TTDW has the best post-avengers cameo, ever. I’ve not seen it leaked anywhere so when you see the film, be a good geek and don’t ruin it for anyone by yabbing about it afterwards. Skills.