Wednesday, 30 October 2013
FILM REVIEW: THOR: THE DARK WORLD
Walt Disney Studios Films
A Norse god from an alien world, fighting side by side with humans and super humans? It really shouldn't work and yet the character of Thor -- a Marvel Comics creation and a member of said super human team, The Avengers -- isn't as incongruous as you'd think. And in the guise of Chris Hemsworth, he's an even easier anomaly to swallow.
The Dark World is Hemsworth's third outing as the hammer-wielding God of Thunder (after 2011's Thor and 2012's The Avengers), and the finely chiselled, blonde-mane man mountain seems to be the most at ease he's been with this character yet. It helps that he has Tom Hiddleston, also back for the third time as Thor's adopted evil brother, Loki, as his sparring partner; the latter playing the salty yin to Hemworth's (rock) solid yang.
The two are forced to bury the hatchet and work together this time to defeat Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), a Dark Elf whose previous attempt to submerge the universe in darkness by use of an energy force known as the Aether, was thwarted by Thor's grandfather. And while Malekith escaped, the Aether was hidden somewhere within the Nine Realms (of which Earth, and Thor's home world, Asgard, belong).
But when astrophysicist, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman, reduced to a mere damsel in distress this time round), who also happens to be Thor's long distance love interest, discovers the Aether in London, unwittingly becoming a vessel for the energy force, Malekith is awakened from his suspended animation and sets about resuming his evil plan where he left off, forcing Thor to spirit Jane away to Asgard and to ultimately turn to his brother for help.
Alan Taylor, best known as a director on hit television series Game of Thrones -- and no doubt chosen to helm this sequel (when original choice, Patty Jenkins, departed due to creative differences) because of the tenuous connection between the two properties' sword and sandal fantasy elements -- keeps everything moving (after a slow start) without ever distinguishing himself; The Dark World doesn't have the Shakespearean overtones which Kenneth Branagh brought to the first film, even when most of the action occurs on Asgard and in the House of Odin.
But it does have that same sense of fun which prevents The Dark World from becoming a good versus evil, the world-on-the-edge-of-total-annihilation CGI-driven bore. For all the Asgardian world building in this second outing, it's the human touch which keeps the audience engaged in Thor's second solo outing; Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis, Jane's spunky intern, and Stellan Skarsgard as fellow astrophysicist, Eric Selvig, whose had his marbles scrambled following a previous encounter with Loki, providing much of the film's humour, as does Hiddleston.
The end credits* promise us Thor will be back, and why wouldn't he? Marvel and Disney have made a motza from the Avengers franchise, with the last two films alone (The Avengers, and this year's Iron Man 3), each grossing north of $1 billion at the box office. I doubt The Dark World will do the same kind of business (The Avengers was an "event" film, and Hemsworth is no Robert Downey Jr.) but it's an entertaining enough adventure that should sate the fan boys until Captain America returns in April 2014.
*Note: Do stay through the end credits for not one but two clips. Don't see the film in 3D; the format adds nothing to the viewing experience.