This is the second of Marvel’s Phase Two, and following on from the pretty disappointing Iron Man 2 we are reuniting with another of the Avengers to see if Thor can manage to hold a film on his own and see if it is going to be really good or really bad. The film was released in 2013 and features Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston and Anthony Hopkins reprising their roles as Thor, Jane, Loki and Odin respectively.
The first Thor film was not brilliant but it was certainly not the worst Marvel film that I have ever seen. Thor is the God of Thunder but of course in the original film we only saw him with his powers at the beginning and at the end, however, here Thor has his powers all the way through so are we going to get to see him in all his Godly Glory??
Let me enlighten you regarding what Thor has been up to since his last jaunt to Earth.
We start off with a flashback in which Bor, the father of Odin, defeats a group of Evil Elves, yes evil elves…okay…well moving on. Their ultimate universe destroying weapon called the Aether is taken by Bor and sealed in a stone column away from the universe forever. Some of the Dark Elves escape and have themselves sealed in suspended animation to await the day when the Aether will be rediscovered.
We cut back to the present day, Thor has returned to Asgard following the events of The Avengers Assemble but chaos has apparently broken out throughout the Nine Realms with Thor and his friends struggling to regain order.
Meanwhile Jane (Natalie Portman) has been trying to find Thor since he failed to come back to her after returning to Asgard at the end of Thor. In London she finds a mysterious area in which the normal rules of time and space do not apply, trucks can be lifted by hand and objects will appear in certain locations and reappear in others. Jane is suddenly transported somewhere and she approaches the stone column, only for the Aether to awaken and infect her. This causes the Dark Elves to reawaken, but Thor learns that Jane has been infected and returns her to Asgard where his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) warns his son that it is the Aether and its return will herald coming catastrophe.
The Dark Elves (I’m going to keep calling them that by the way because every time I think of “elf” I think of Santa Clause’s helpers so can’t really find them threatening). Anyway, the Dark Elves attack Asgard trying to find Jane and the Aether and Thor is left with no choice but to team up with Loki in order to go after the leader of the Dark Elves Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) and stop him unleashing the Aether.
In the first film Thor was an arrogant dick, his father removed his powers until he learned humility and now that he has we get to see the God of Thunder in all his glory. I suppose when you are dealing with characters that are, you know, Gods, it is difficult to imagine them being under any kind of threat. I mean Thor went toe to toe with the Hulk in Avengers without even getting a scratch and so it is difficult to imagine how they can be in any real danger. But it is like creating enemies for Superman, there are really only two options: One: you need enemies that are on par with the Man of Steel, or Two: you need to find a way to reduce Superman’s power to put him on par with everything else. This is also true of a story about Gods, in this instance the majority of the film takes place in Asgard or planets in the other Nine Realms so Thor is up against enemies that have strength similar to his own.
The story line: Evil Elves, sorry Dark Elves, want to use a weapon of immense power to wipe out the universe, so far so generic, but the way that the story is executed is so much fun. The return of Tom Hiddleston as Loki is also a particular highlight. Loki spends a lot of the film in a cell but after Asgard is attacked Thor is forced to ask for his help and the on screen chemistry between Hiddleston and Hemsworth as Loki and Thor respectively leads to some truly great banter. Thor obviously still loves his brother but knows that there is not a chance in hell that he can ever trust him, and when Loki starts to change his form to disguise himself as he and Thor escape Asgard leads to one of the best cameos I have ever seen in a film.
The cast work very well together on screen and this is what Marvel films can boast now, seasoned and Oscar winning actors and actresses appear in them including Hollywood heavyweights like Anthony Hopkins as Thor’s father Odin. Loki’s motivation for helping Thor is also done very well and to see the rage of Loki after he learns that the attack on Asgard lead to the death of the only person he loves gives his character a lot more depth and complexity.
The tongue in cheek humour that seemed so out of place in Iron Man 3 fits in well here, a sequence near the beginning has Thor going up against a huge stone monster, he smiles pleasantly at it says “Hello” and then smashes it into rubble with his hammer. The humour is dropped in during some of the films finest and sometimes life-and-death moments but at no point does it feel out of place. During the final battle barriers between the realms are collapsing so Thor is being hurled through worlds and his hammer keeps trying to get back to his hand so when he is transported to another world is hammer shoots off into space only to turn around and return to Earth once her jumps through another portal returning him to the fight. It is chaotic but great fun to watch. He ends up in a tube station away from the sight of the battle and has to get on a train in order to return to face Malekith again. Thor’s Hammer is supposed to be the heaviest thing in the universe and yet when he is visiting Jane’s apartment he hangs it up on her coat rack, yes, this is stupid but it is funny and it works.
There is very little that isn’t to like here, yes the story is same old, same old, but the special effects are really impressive. We get to see Thor as the God of Thunder, we see Asgard, and thankfully we see the return of Loki who is not the bad guy again but is not exactly trustworthy either.
Thor: The Dark World raises the bar from the original and unlike in Iron Man 3 here it is perfectly obvious why none of the other Avengers are present. This is a superior sequel which gives us plenty of Thor, Loki, Asgard and raises the stakes as Thor fights Malekith after he has absorbed the formidable power of the Aether.
As usual there is a little bit after the credits (actually there are two bits so stick around to catch both of them)
Iron Man 3 pulled my Thumb Down but Thor: The Dark World does better than the original and after the great Avengers Assemble carries on the story of the God of Thunder and Jane without her seeming out of place surrounded by the Gods of Asgard and raises the stakes as the Aether’s power is unleashed so my Thumb is unsurprisingly Up
8.5/10 – A really great sequel and is great fun. Iron Man 3 dropped the ball and personally I was starting to get a little worried that after the original films had been building up to Avengers Assemble there wasn’t much they could do to top that or even create a decent stand alone story. I am grateful to Thor: The Dark World then for proving that Marvel films post-Avengers can still deliver the goods to fans of this cinematic universe.