So Marvel thought it would be hilarious to release Thor The Dark World right in the middle of my Horror Week. Good going Marvel! Why not screw everything up for me as much as you can? Like that time you released The Avengers just as I was about to do my traditional joke review for The Film Dump’s 1st birthday. I’m sure they’ll find a way to screw up the Godzilla season I’m planning. Jerks. Yup, Marvel have it in for me, clearly. So, Thor The Dark World is out in the UK and I just got back from seeing it. So here’s my review… right in the middle of Horror Week. Click the link.
Thor 2 Electric Boogaloo starts in the exact way I hate films to start. Voice over of mystical goings on while we watch a battle and are introduced to our main villain as a device of motivation rather than a character with thoughts and feelings. We’re told that the Dark Elf Lord Malekith had possession a weapon called the Aether which he intended to use to return the 9 realms of the universe back to darkness, or something. He fails, of course, and then goes into hiding. No history to him, nothing about who he is, he just wants to turn the lights out. Over the course of the film we discover exactly nothing else about him. On the one hand the single minded villain can be a powerful driving force in a film, on the other it can be a waste of a perfectly fine actor who has nothing to chew on. So, off to a bad start. Also, the opening scenes make it look like they stored the Aether inside the Thor logo.
Thankfully the monomaniacal villain isn’t too much of an issue. He’s there to keep the good guys on their toes and provide the epic showdowns these films need. When Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) manages to send herself through a portaly thing and accidentally go and fill herself up with a load of that Aether stuff the story proper kicks off. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) comes to take her to Asgard to see if they can get this wobbly red death/plot device out of her body but, little do they know, that Malekith has awoken from his slumber and is headed their way to collect his weapon. From here on it’s all the usual story of action and adventure with lots of punching and destruction. The norm for these superhero films now. As Thor kicks off his plot to stop Malekith, which naturally involves putting Jane in danger and freeing his teenage girl panty wetting half brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and at this point the film proper can start. An hour in.
I sound a little harsh on Thor 2 Thor Harder, but, it’s actually a very enjoyable piece of nonsense. Director Alan Taylor, the visionary mind behind… nothing much… handles the adventure well enough. He doesn’t appear to have much in the way of visual flair but he makes up for it by keeping character interactions interesting, by making sure the action is well paced and staged and, most importantly, keeping the humour coming. I cannot stress how important the humour in to a Thor film. Kenneth Brannagh clearly understood it when making the first film, Taylor understands it here. Without the steady stream of humour 2 Thor 2 Thorious would be a chore to work through. Of all the marvel movie heroes Thor is the one in the most danger of turning into a po-faced mess due to the extreme levels of theatrical language used and the slightly ridiculous nature of every Asgardian’s wardrobe. It’s like they have no casual wear. As a result Kat Dennings’ Darcy has a much larger role. This goes along with Stellen Skarsgard playing up a more comedic role than his previous 2 appearances. There’s also a brief, but surely UK centric, cameo from Chris O’Dowd who is actually instrumental in saving the entire universe.
One odd absence from the film is the complete lack of anything Shield related. Not even when floating objects and portals are discovered in London do they turn up. The Metropolitan police do though. Maybe they’re agents of Shield? Considering the TV series is running along now and that they’ve not been shy about filming all over the world you would have thought there could have been at least one brief appearance. I’m sure the events that do happen in London will get brought up on the show but considering how much of a focus the internal workings of Shield has on the next Captain America film you would have thought there would have been some sort of appearance by them here.
The film focuses heavily on the themes of family and class structure. Which is strange considering the film is primarily about things getting smacked with a hammer. Thor wants to be with Jane, Odin thinks that’s silly because she’ll be all LOL dead soon and stuff. I mean as in humans don’t live as long as Asgardians. Like 100 years compared to their 5000. I’m guessing Odin has never heard of flings. Besides, he married Rene Russo, she’s gotta be a few thousand years younger than him. On top of that we have Thor and Loki and their will they won’t they romance. I was reading those interactions correctly right? Thor can’t trust Loki, he’s maliciously compelled to stab people in the back, often for real, but dammit they care about each other. There’s a fair bit more to the family mess than that but to discuss it would be to enter into spoiler territory. It’s all handled well enough though.
Generally performances across the entire film are standard fair with no one really elevating the film beyond what it is, a big flashy adventure. It’s kind of a shame really because Tom Hiddleston did such an amazing job of stealing the show in the first film. Here, he’s just kind of going through the motions a little. There’s one scene in particular where Thor, Loki and Jane are making their escape in a Dark Elf ship and Loki is constantly taunting Thor’s piloting skills. Every single one of these taunts is delivered as if they were thought up by Tom on the spot with no chance to think of something better. Maybe he thought it was rehearsal. That scene even manages to waste a lot of this apparent sibling bickering one telling us exactly what we just saw. It’s a misstep but man does it stick out. Possibly one of the most cringe worthy scenes on attempted humour since someone told George Lucas that people would laugh at Jar Jar Binks.
Overall Thor Back 2 Tha Hood is a very enjoyable action romp. Yes I said romp. It has it’s fair share of flaws but at least it isn’t taking on too many plot threads and fumbling them all over the place. At least it is staying true to the character. At least it isn’t so concerned with getting the characters into situations for the sake of action that it forgets that there needs to be some sort of driving force putting them there. Thor The Dark World is one of the better action films this summer and, thankfully for the fans, doesn’t include anything that’s going to upset them like Trevor did. I didn’t see the 3D version but I’ll assume it’s poorly handled like all the Marvel film’s 3D has been so far. Be sure to sit through the credits as there is 2 additional scenes, one of which is (SPOILERS) teasing something beyond even the next Avengers film and was directed by one Mr James Gunn, which me being a nerd I noticed right away. So, Thor 2… erm… The Desolation of Smeg?.. It’s quite good.