Thor: The Dark World (2013) Directed Alan Taylor. With Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Christopher Eccleston and Idris Elba.
In the wake of Joss Whedon’s ground-breaking superhero team-up, Avengers Assemble, the universe of characters and situations belonging to the Marvel sphere, are beginning to feel fittingly expansive. Kenneth Branagh vacates the directors chair for this addition to the Thor series, and is replaced by Alan Taylor, a veteran of scaled up television series’, such as HBO’s Game of Thrones.
An Anthony Hopkins narrated prologue kicks proceedings off, introducing and enticing us with the lurking threat to come, embodied by an unrecognisable Christopher Eccleston, as leader of the sinister Dark Elves, Malekith. As has come to be expected, the grandeur and spectacle are fully intact, as is, thankfully, the series’ sense of humour. One of the pleasing aspects of Branagh and Whedon’s usage of the Thor character, was their ability to splice gags between the potential pomposity of the character, that with a lesser wit, might have otherwise prevailed. Chris Hemsworth is again a sturdy lead in the title role, once more bickering and bantering with his ill-disciplined brother, Loki, played with usual gleeful relish by the always great, Tom Hiddleston.
One of the failings of the previous film, was that it readily squandered Natalie Portman as Thor’s love interest, Jane Foster. The script attempts to address that problem by giving Portman more to do this time around, indeed making her character a central part of the main thrust of the plot. Despite this, her character still feels mildly redundant, not particularly sparking much between herself and Thor, and serving as more the straight-woman for the likes of Chris O’ Dowd (yes, him) and Kat Dennings to bounce jokes off.
In all though, the film provides enough spectacle to satisfy the appetite of those hungry for more of the same. Essentially a sequel to two films, it does a great job of extending the Marvel Universe further out into space, while constantly building and referencing things we’ve learned from the earlier films. There’s nothing terribly Earth shattering going on here, but it is nearly always entertaining, and reinforces a crucial sense of consistency to this intricately colossal Marvel business model. 3.5/5