Review: Thor – The Dark World

 thor the dark worldFrances WInston reviewed this Superhero movie, and was not disappointed

Directed by: Alan Taylor – Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Anthony Hopkins, Chris O’Dowd

The fact that heart-throbs Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston appear on screen together in this super hero sequel will be enough to get a lot of people’s bums on cinema seats. For those of you who are more cynical though, and like to know what to expect, Hemsworth and Hiddleston resume their roles as the rival siblings, in a sequel that picks up directly after the events of the Avengers Assemble movie (taster trailer below).

There are plenty of references made to this, and even a surprise (hilarious) appearance by another member of the super hero team, which will fill in the gaps of the story. But of course this is technically a sequel to Thor, and those who have seen that movie will remember that director Kenneth Branagh brought a lot of gravitas to the flick. Here, Game of Thrones director Taylor goes for grit and humour, and finds a lot of a laughs in the story.

As with all movies of this genre, the plot is somewhat contrived and complex. As a disgraced Loki is sentenced to imprisonment by his father Odin (Hopkins) Thor is wistfully missing his human love Jane (Portman). Meanwhile on earth, she is just as hung up on him, but tries to put him out of her mind by dating Richard (O’Dowd).

However, as she searches for a way to reunite with her Norse God, she accidentally absorbs an ancient energy called the Aether, which awakens The Dark Elves – enemies of Thor’s home world Asgard –  who wish to see all of the nine realms in darkness. Returning to earth, Thor brings Jane to Asgard for her own safety,  but the Elves, led by Malekith, track her down, and are determined to retrieve the power she now possesses.

With Asgard’s defences destroyed and its army cut down, Thor is forced to commit treason and free his disgraced brother from prison so he can fight alongside him. While Malekith prepares to put his evil plan into action, the ensuing battle takes all involved through several different worlds – including earth – as they attempt to stop him once and for all.

The ante just keeps getting upped on superhero movies of late, and this is no exception. The explosions are bigger, the effects are bigger and, if it’s possible, Hemsworth’s muscles are bigger than in the first movie. While the first movie was set predominantly on earth, the plot here allows us to take in several other worlds that are overseen by Asgard, which provides a nice contrast to London where the earth action is set.

While this is never played for laughs, it is high on humour – both black and laugh out loud – although that never detracts from it. As you would expect, given that this is his third outing in the role, Hemsworth is fabulous, and it’s hard to believe that he wasn’t the first choice for the part originally. A lesser actress than Portman could have made love interest Jane rather insipid, but she manages to pull off even the silliest aspects of her character’s predicament.

Skarsgård is brilliant as her mentor, Erik, who has been seriously affected by having a God inside his head in the Avengers movie, and Hiddleston manages to bring a totally new dimension to bad guy Loki, even managing to evoke sympathy from the audience (seriously – you will feel sorry for him). The rest of the cast do a great job in their roles also.

The story is slightly silly, but then again this is a superhero film, so they’re not exactly aiming for realism. And thanks to Thor’s mythological status, this actually works. The big set piece doesn’t disappoint, as they demolish not only London but several other worlds, with a twist at the end that sets the franchise up nicely for part three. This will literally leave you agape and questioning just how it happened.

This film is great fun. It doesn’t pretend to be something that it’s not, and at just under two hours it doesn’t outstay its welcome. The post-credit sequence has become a trademark of Marvel movies of late, and here they give you not one but two! Neither of these will disappoint (although you do have time to run to the bathroom between the two – I know because I did it).

This movie is perfect escapism for a couple of hours, and it will leave you with a grin on your face, thanks to all the twists and turns in the plot.

In cinemas October 30th

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