Thor: The Dark World

Certificate: 12A
Running Time: 112 mins
Director: Alan Taylor
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston
Genre: Action, Comic Book, Fantasy
Country: USA

When Jane Foster is mysteriously possessed by a great and destructive power Thor must return to Earth to protect her from a threat from the old, old world…the Dark Elves.  Though these baddies might sound a little more like a racist Christmas group than the latest Marvel superbaddies they are indeed a dangerous foe to be faced.  Or so director Alan Taylor would have you believe…but I’m not entirely buying it.

Before we get into the issues let’s deal with the positives.  Where Branagh’s Thor had the most unbelievable (and hilariously tacked on) love-story that cinema has seen since the Titanic sank (on screen not in real life) Thor: The Dark World does attempt to create something of a chemistry, a rationale behind Jane’s love of big beefy.  He also, thankfully, gives her more to do than simple run around screaming oh Thor my ovaries! or whatever she did in the first movie.  Kat Dennings is given no more to do than she previously was but seems to have been written with her strengths in mind…which is great.  Visually the movie has a lovely muted tone to it that grounds the narrative in reality and is in some truly excellent ways reminiscent of Attack the Block.  Chris Hemsworth (as Thor) is a strong, commanding and steady hand behind the wheel of the cash-mobile, Hiddleston (as Loki) finds a few new ways to keep his one-dimensional baddie relevant/interesting, Portman switches from first to second gear for the sequel and Stellan Skarsgard steals the show right out from under all their noses with the help of Dennings.  Yet is it enough?  No.

I’ve watched with more than a touch of curiosity since The Avengers to see what was going to happen in a post-New York Marvel world with the characters as a whole; and the Incredible Hulk in particular.  Ang Lee’s Hulk did the green meanie no favours, Edward Norton’s own split personality did him even fewer with The Incredible Hulk but the casting of Hollywood’s nicest man Mark Ruffalo as he who has anger issues was the chance Marvel needed to kick-start not just one of their strongest comic book heroes but also their most interesting.  Some of the criticisms are that Hulk can only come up against big bad monsters thus making his movies, samesie and repetitive but I don’t buy that.  Can a normal criminal outrun Iron Man?  Outfight Thor?  And what about this Batman-Superman movie?  In a world of super-strength does Superman really need Batman?  The point (yup, there is one) is if Hulk movies are all the same surely the same issues must be attributed to Thor.  He is a demi-god after all, yet he (and Hemsworth) now have two individual movies to Ruffalo’s zero.  How?  Why?  Can you honestly say a demi-god who has one trick in his big hammer is more interesting than a genius who must live in the margins of society or suffer through the continual loss of those around him? 

The issues with Thor: The Dark World can be summed up with this –seen it.  For all the film’s new locations and characterisation and the continuation post-New York we have seen this movie before, granted it is superior to the original on which it is recycled from but still it is the same movie as that which Branagh previously pumped out.  The plot points are all the same, in the same place and even the twists…so Loki can’t be trusted you say…well f*ck my bones I had no idea that was the case. 

The film is far too sprawling.  In it’s efforts to address the shortcomings of the first movie TTDW makes every attempt to be all things to all people and ultimately comes across as thin, distracted, incoherent and sloppy.

I can see the longevity in Iron Man, the avenues for exploration in Captain America and the wealth of potential conflict for Hulk.  I can even see how they could take a risk and get something cool out of a Black Widow movie but with Thor I can see nothing more than the continuous rehashing of the same plot points until there’s only one person left in the world caring…and that person is Stan Lee.


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