I am a God – Thor: The Dark World review

Thor The Dark World

By Simon Miraudo
October 29, 2013

There is the good kind of problem, and the bad kind of problem. A bad kind of problem is having to describe in a concise prologue the vast mythology of a comic-book character who hails from Norse folklore and is armed with weaponry as difficult to pronounce as it is to spell. Those things never go down smooth. Then there is the good kind of problem. Thor: The Dark World strives for Star Wars with its dense world-building , but its goofy sense of humour (and overall frivolousness) makes it feel more like the first season of Buffy. That may be a failure by the filmmaker’s standards; it’s just fine by me. Chris Hemsworth‘s golden god will never be quite as iconic as Harrison Ford‘s Han Solo. Yet, his charm and comic timing at least makes the latest entry in the least-loved Marvel saga worth watching.

Kenneth Branagh‘s first Thor attempted to bring Shakespearean gravitas to the legend of the blondest, most manliest Avenger. It didn’t totally work, with only Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston‘s Loki – the nefarious, backstabbing brother of Thor – really worth salvaging. Smartly, screenwriters Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, and Stephen McFeely, as well as incoming director Alan Taylor (a Game of Thrones alumnus) put Thor and Loki’s relationship to the forefront of this sequel. Taylor also breathes life into Asgard – the mystical realm that was poorly illuminated and seemingly uninhabited in the predecessor – and allows his talented ensemble to show off their sense of humour. Though its chance at being Iron Man‘s more poignant sibling has passed, the Thor franchise is settling in nicely to its new niche of other-worldly comedy. A fantasy world should be fun. Let’s leave the moral hand-wringing over American military ethics to “real-world” heroes Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, and Nick Fury.

Thor The Dark World

Set in the shadow of The Avengers, The Dark World begins with Loki banished to the dungeons by his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), king of Asgard. Seems not even the destruction of New York City can make his adoptive dad proud. Meanwhile, chosen son Thor works tirelessly to bring peace to the Nine Realms (chaos that, again, was instigated by Loki in the first flick). Back on Earth, Thor’s astrophysicist former flame Jane Foster (a present Natalie Portman) happens upon a portal that leads to an ancient evil called Aether, the discovery of which awakens villainous, Armageddon-happy elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston). Thor, sensing danger, rushes to Jane’s aid, and, reluctantly, recruits Loki to help keep the realms from falling into Malekith’s hands.

Condensing the synopsis into a bite-sized paragraph does not allow mentions of the picture’s many impressive ringers; talented players such as Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Jaimie Alexander, and even Chris O’Dowd making up the rest of the cast in roles of varying significance. Those who find themselves on Asgard are blessed with prettier, more substantial CGI than was on display last time. The Earth-bound, instead, are gifted with the picture’s best set-piece: a lively, dimension-jumping climactic battle in Greenwich.

Thor The Dark World

The luckiest of the lot, however, are Hemsworth and Hiddleston: charismatic performers given better material than ever before. Hemsworth is far more comfortable in the part now he’s had two pictures to warm up. Hiddleston, however, has evolved from a snivelling trickster to a swaggering conman. He’s a delight. Seems the influence of Avengers director – and Buffy creator – Joss Whedon has rubbed off on them. This means that, despite The Dark World having been directed by Alan Taylor, it feels positively Whedonesque. This is a good kind of problem.

3.5/5

Check out Simon Miraudo’s other reviews.

Thor: The Dark World arrives in Australian cinemas October 31, 2013.

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