The latest edition of Marvel’s assault on cinemas everywhere is a charming little beast. Thor was always going to be one of the more difficult characters to make the transition from inky page to silver screen, (certainly when compared to his Avengers brethren) but given most of the legwork was done in Thor and The Avengers, very little time is wasted getting on with the plot, such as it is. Rather than The Dark World, they should have called it The Wibbly Wobbly Time/Space Shifting Shenanigans. Anthony Hopkins knocks out a bit of exposition (primarily to let you know who to boo – it’s evil elves this time, led by Malekith, played by a virtually indistinguishable Christopher Eccleston) and on with the show we go.
The plot. Deep breath, here goes:
There’s this mystical red stuff which the dark elves need to bring about darkness in the universe. Mwahahahahaaah. There’s a magical alignment of the nine realms which is causing all manner of unpredictable goings on on earth, with temporary wormholes to other dimensions opening up left right and centre. The alignment of the realms will allow Malekith to wreak havoc using this mystical red stuff if only he could get a hold of it. Where is it? Well guess who’s girlfriend managed to get herself infected with it…
While this sounds like (and is) utter nonsense it actually allows for some inventive juxtaposition and a REAL get out of jail free card in case you’ve written yourself into a corner (you’ll know it when you see it).
All the major players from Thor return, with Natalie Portman trying to get on with her life, and not judge any other prospective suitors by comparing them to an absent Thor, who is off spreading peace (read: hitting things) round the nine realms. Loki is imprisoned after the events of The Avengers but manages to steal the best lines whilst having very little to do for the first hour of the film but skulk, albeit in charismatic fashion. Much in the same vein as Iron Man 3 the events of the Avengers has had an effect on these characters – Stellan Skarsgård is now even more wonderfully batty than ever. Kat Dennings also returns and plays the role she’s known for (2 Broke Girls) to the hilt as Jane’s intern.
It has to be said, this film is a great deal of fun. It is witty, inventive, and has some spectacular set pieces. The dialogue is sharp and the decision to set it (partially) in London allows for some sweet gags contrasting the fantastical world Thor inhabits, to the marginally less fantastical Greenwich. It also manages to differ from its predecessor without going down the ‘darker/grittier’ route. While it IS a bit darker that seems to be more to do with the palette that Alan Taylor has brought over from Game of Thrones than anything else. However it does feel a little bit like an opportunity missed. It’s fun hanging out with Thor in Asgard – he’s got some great mates, and there are countless adventures to be had there. There’s also the promise of a love triangle between Thor, Jane and Sif (Jaimie Alexander), but it doesn’t really go anywhere. Another waste is Christopher Eccleston – there’s just too much prosthetic to let him shine so he just becomes another snarling badass rather than the memorable villain he’s more than capable of creating. However these are just minor niggles. Thor: The Dark World is totally worth the effort – a splendid Friday night popcorn muncher of the highest order.