There’s probably a good reason this film isn’t just called Thor 2, because The Avengers essentially, thanks to Loki, stole that title. We’ve already seen two films about the God of Thunder and his mischievous/murderous little brother. But the two of them just don’t get boring.
This time, Loki is locked up and the Big Bad is Malekith (a barely recognisable Christopher Eccleston) and his Dark Elves, is looking to wipe out the entire universe, if only he can get his hands on the weapon Odin’s father hid from him 5,000 years ago. But with a cosmic convergence looming and the walls between worlds getting pretty malleable, the weapon is resurfacing. As the trailer gives away (although I wish it didn’t), Thor has to team up with his treacherous brother to bring down Malekith.
As Big Bads go, Malekith gets somewhat short shrift. The first film had the benefit of Loki as the chief villain. His history and motivations were completely inseparable from Thor’s. You couldn’t tell one story without telling the other. Malekith’s story, on the other hand, feels shoe-horned in, and director Alan Taylor would rather spend time with the team of astrophysicists on Earth or the Asgardian supporting cast than with the villain. As such, it’s not clear why Malekith wants to destroy everything, and Eccleston is never really given time to shine.
“I saw it last week and I was surprised by the amount of humour because I’m such a miserable bastard, I was completely excluded from any of the joy. My character was completely grounded in vengeance. He was like a maniac for revenge. The idea was to suggest that the Dark Elves were as ancient a race as the Asgardians and had a history which is why we gave them a language, and they had a culture, but most of all they had a grudge which they had slept on for millions of years.” – Christopher Eccleston (Malekith)
But if all Malekith is is an excuse for some big fight scenes and some family angst for the Odinsons, then that’s not the end of the world. That was the charm of the first film anyway. And I certainly wouldn’t suggest taking screen time away from Natalie Portman’s Jane and her team of scientists – as before, they provide a lot of the humour, particularly Kat Dennings in a beefed-up role as Darcy (now with her own sidekick) and Stellan Skarsgard, having a whale of a time as a slightly cracked Erik Selvig. I would have liked to see more of Sif and the Warriors Three, though, who were sadly under-used here.
“Humour is definitely key. We’ve got spaceships in this movie, we’ve got other planets in this movie, and we’ve found that humour is an amazing way to get the audience to embrace and accept all those worlds and all the craziness and all these costumes. It’s worked well for us going back to the first Iron Man.” – Keven Feige, Producer
The action scenes are as good as you’d expect, particularly an impressively mind-bending battle across all of the Nine Realms and a grounded skirmish early on in Vanaheim. Idris Elba’s Heimdall and Rene Russo’s Frigga also (finally) get their moments of stone-cold action bad-assery. The special effects are flawless and Asgard looks more stunning than ever, nicely contrasted against the blackened and dead Svartalfheim. Also, setting the Earth portions in London makes a nice change – we were all getting a bit bored of New York getting blown up and it lends the film far more of a dimension-trotting vibe.
Like its predecessor, Thor: The Dark World boasts a hefty dose of fish-out-of-water comedy (this time Jane meets her boyfriend’s parents) and strong character work. It has the biggest cast of any Marvel movie and finds good moments for almost all of its characters.
Tags: chris hemsworth, christopher eccleston, kat dennings, natalie portman, thor: the dark world, tom hiddleston
“I think that the characters – even though they’re travelling between realms – they’re going through things we can all relate to. For myself, playing a woman who the guy didn’t call back, and disappeared, and there’s this long distance thing going on, it works out, she meets the parents… these are all things that obviously most women can relate to.” – Natalie Portman (Jane Foster)