Monday, 4 November 2013

Movie Review: Thor: The Dark World

‘Thor: The Dark World’ is the next step in Marvel’s ambitious film saga, being the second standalone movie since ‘The Avengers’ this film actually has a lot to prove especially as it seeks to establish the wider universe of Asgard and the eight realms beyond it. Despite any issues I had with the movie I still applaud the attempts of the filmmakers to build a story around Thor that doesn’t hinge on his outsider status on Earth but rather an exploration of his home and family.

Thor’s own mission to protect the nine realms becomes entwined with Jane Porter’s scientific resolve as the young god is drawn back to Earth by the return of an ancient evil.

Chris Hemsworth returns to the role of Thor and gives what I believe to be his best portrayal of the character yet. Supporting Hemsworth are fellow ‘Thor’ cast members Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård, and Anthony Hopkins, all of whom turn in good performances in spite of the fact that the writing of their characters leaves a lot to be desired. Also returning from the original film is Loki played by Tom Hiddleston; Hiddleston easily steals the show in a performance that shows off Loki’s revelry in deceit. The chemistry between Hemsworth and Hiddleston proves to be the crux of the film and thankfully the two actors perform fantastically as a duo. Meanwhile ‘Doctor Who’ actor Christopher Eccleston plays the villain of the piece, Malekith, surprisingly I found myself very underwhelmed by Eccleston’s performance although I’m sure that this had a great deal to do with the fact that the character of Malekith is written so exceedingly dull that Eccleston seriously struggled to imbue him with any sort of intrigue at all. Disappointingly ‘Thor: The Dark World’ underuses the plethora of talented actors on hand and often has trouble finding meaning for its secondary characters who have little impact on the story as a whole.

It's very easy to see why Tom Hiddleston is such a fan favourite as Loki.

There’s almost always an issue with pacing in a superhero movie, it seems that writers either have a good idea for an ending or a beginning but sadly not both, this results in films such as the first two Iron Man movies which start out great only to lose steam after the first 50-60 minutes. ‘Thor: The Dark World’ suffers from this same issue except that it peaks at its ending rather than its beginning, meaning that you have to sit through the poor first act before the film takes off.

The character of Thor has always been suited to action on an epic scale as has been evident in Marvel comics for decades, being the god that he is such physicality is the ideal way to convey his massive strength, this is precisely why action on-screen is so important to get correct with Thor. Thankfully ‘Thor: The Dark World’ excels during it’s action sequences where the stunning visual effects arrest the viewer and at times even rival the likes of ‘The Avengers'.

Chris Hemsworth is better than ever as Thor.

One of the most divisive aspects of the original ‘Thor’ was its use of “fish out of water” comedy where Thor’s own Asgardian sensibilities clashed with the culture on Earth. Some felt this was a little too close to sitcom territory at times whilst others appreciated the light-hearted tone the film was willing to adopt. I personally found the humour to be hit and miss in the original, while I could certainly see the validity of the perspective of the naysayers I have to admit to laughing a few times myself. ‘Thor: The Dark World’ has a much better handle on its humour. The jokes here are plentiful and in better taste (most of the time) and thanks to the superb comic timing and delivery by Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston the film really is genuinely funny at times.

­­­‘Thor: The Dark World’ really is a solid movie, it’s just a shame that it takes so long to become that film. This is a cinematic case of having to eat your vegetables before you get dessert.

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