Thor: The Dark World (M)

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Review byMatthew Turner31/10/2013

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 112 mins

Enormously entertaining superhero sequel that delivers thrills, laughs and emotion in equal measure, thanks to a witty script, superb performances, thrilling action sequences and assured direction from Alan Taylor that gets the tone exactly right.

What's it all about?
Directed by Alan Taylor, Thor: The Dark World is the sequel to 2011’s Marvel superhero blockbuster, picking up where 2012's The Avengers left off: Thor's evil foster brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is imprisoned on Asgard for his crimes on Earth while Thor (Chris Hemsworth) himself has restored peace to the Nine Realms. Meanwhile, on Earth, Thor's girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) has encountered evidence of a dimensional anomaly and accidentally absorbs a powerful substance known as The Aether, which, in turn, awakens a race of vengeful Dark Elves lead by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), who intends to use The Aether to bring destruction to the Nine Realms (Earth included).

Thor duly transports Jane to Asgard to protect her, but his plan backfires when the Dark Elves come looking for The Aether and mount a devastating attack on Asgard. In desperation, Thor turns to Loki and asks for his help in defeating Malekith. But can Loki be trusted?

The Good
Hemsworth is terrific as Thor, exuding both powerful physicality and a winning charm laced with warmth and humour; he also generates palpable chemistry with each of his co-stars, from Hopkins' Odin and Hiddleston to Portman and Jamie Alexander's Sif (a potential love triangle that disappointingly goes nowhere). Portman, in turn, is pleasingly feisty as Jane, while Hiddleston once again steals the entire film with a wonderful, emotionally complex performance that allows you to glimpse the pain and heartache underneath the scheming, trickery and wisecracks (he gets all the best lines).

The supporting cast are equally good, particularly the ever-fabulous Kat Dennings as Jane's assistant Darcy (who gets slightly more to do this time round and, amusingly, still can't pronounce Mjolnir), Jonathan Howard (as Darcy's put-upon intern Ian) and, in a brief, but effective cameo, Chris O'Dowd as Jane's date Richard.

The Great
It would be churlish to suggest that director Alan Taylor landed the job purely because of his work on Game of Thrones, but that experience is certainly notable, not least because he gets the tone exactly right, expertly balancing thrills, laugh-out-loud humour, darker themes and powerful emotion. Similarly, the effects are excellent and the fight sequences are both genuinely exciting and inventively staged, particularly during the action-packed London-set climax that uses its Greenwich locations to imaginative effect.

On top of that, the film is packed full of clever in-jokes and nods to Marvel fans, from the obligatory Stan Lee appearance to an inspired, crowd-pleasing cameo it would be wrong to spoil. There are also not one but two post-credits stings (one mid-credits, one post-credits), so don't leave before the end.

Worth seeing?
This is a Thor-oughly (sorry) enjoyable, emotionally engaging sequel that delivers thrills, spectacle and laughs in equal measure. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Thor: The Dark World (M)
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Content updated: 19/02/2020 16:33

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