Thor: The Dark World
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston
Review by: Julian Wright
Buckle up for another trip to the Marvel superhero well – our eighth in the Avengers series and second since The Avengers. It is a bumpy one with a few pot holes along the way. The scenery is also looking awfully familiar. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t an excursion that cannot be enjoyed.
Picking up where The Avengers left off, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is imprisoned back in his home world of Asgard for his crimes in New York, while he works out some daddy issues with ruler Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Meanwhile, back on Earth, Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) former fling and astrophysicist Jane (Natalie Portman) stumbles onto a portal in London and discovers an ancient, hidden fog-thing called Aether, which can plunge the nine worlds into darkness. This piques the interest of power-hungry Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) who sets about taking possession. Great timing too, because the worlds are about to align, as they do every 5000 years. Sensing the danger that Jane is now in, Thor returns to Earth with his rebellious brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to stop him. The trust issues between brothers is what gives weight to the intricate, science heavy plot that increasingly becomes more complicated and hectic.
Thor: The Dark World is the kind of movie in which a lot is happening, but not a lot is going on – particularly under the surface. Struggling to emerge from the shadow of The Avengers, which was an epic and coherent convergence of all superheroes and their stories, The Dark World is of the mentality that bigger is better. The script doesn’t quite strike the right balance of spectacle and story, with the romance between Thor and Jane playing more like a throwaway so as to not interfere too much with the action, stripping much of the heart from the story.
Where it does succeed is in its ability to make the audience laugh. Comedic gems – Thor hanging his hammer on a coat rack and a couple of choice cameos – are nice touches, but this has a consistent sense of humour. Kat Dennings’ (playing Jane’s intern Darcy) presence as the comic relief takes this instalment a long way. Grating on her television series 2 Broke Girls in which she appears to try too hard for laughs, but effortlessly charming and funny here, she outshines her co-stars. Particularly heavy-handed Anthony Hopkins, who is cringe-worthy. The humour is the saviour because the dramatic arc lacks oomph and the action is at times confusing, as is the science and multiple worlds. This Marvel well still has plenty of entertainment value but something meatier may be required if the studio continue to trot out sequels. Otherwise we might need to bring along a deck of cards for the next trip to entertain ourselves.