Director Alan Taylor has moulded an entirely enjoyable movie that is much darker than its predecessor, both thematically and visually. However, it still manages to have a few aptly timed moments of levity that provide the audience some respite and prevents it from delving too far into darkness.
Taylor is working within the confines of a world already created by Kenneth Branagh but it is certainly something the Game of Thrones director is used to. And it is clearly an advantage that allows Thor The Dark World to hit the ground running since these characters have become known quantities.
The movie looks far grander than its predecessor, with astounding setpieces more than worthy of a blockbuster and effects that are simply out-of-this-world. Which is fortunate since most of the movie takes place out of this world.
While Branagh put the Asgardian in a small town in New Mexico Taylor shuffles him across four of the nine realms, battling ferociously in each one.
And Taylor’s deft handling of the action scenes culminates with an epic showdown between Thor and Malekith that, unlike The Man of Steel, avoids the monotony of constant destruction with minor infusions of humour.
Chris Hemsworth once again proves a charismatic Thor but one far more mature than in his first adventure two years ago. In his third outing as the God of Thunder Hemsworth looks far more comfortable in the part and has clearly made it his own much in the same way Robert Downey Jr. did with Tony Stark/Iron Man.
However, it is Tom Hiddleston’s Loki that steals the show. Charming, funny, mischievous and playing for some emotional depth unseen in the other characters, Loki reminds us why he is the best villain across the Marvel universe.
A fact Marvel itself realised late but capitalised on by adding a few extra scenes with Loki in post-production.
It is clear Loki has set the bar quite high and it seems too high for Malekith.
Christopher Eccleston plays Malekith a completely forgettable villain that is neither terrifying nor complex. He wants to bring darkness back into the universe for reasons which are explained in the Lord of the Rings-type prologue but are entirely unimportant to the movie. He exists simply to give cause for action and action is what ensues.
This is not to say that Eccleston was entirely bad but that he simply wasn’t around enough to make a lasting impression. And those that complained about the generic look of the Chitauri aren’t going to like his army of Dark Elves either.
But Malekith isn’t the only character that doesn’t develop beyond the basic movie requirements.
Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster has seemingly remained unchanged since the events of the first movie and there seems to be no rush to do anything about it. However, her chemistry with Hemsworth makes their scenes utterly enjoyable and allows you to overlook her character’s minor shortcomings.
Of course there are flaws but there is nothing that is so glaringly wrong that it will distract from the pure fun to be had in Thor The Dark World.
And while the movie works well in 3D despite only being converted in post-production, the result is far better than in its predecessor, it still doesn’t necessitate paying extra for the experience.
Also, it will come as no surprise that a Marvel movie will have a post-credit scene but Thor The Dark World has two. The first appears in the mid-credits and the second at the very end. One connects to another Marvel franchise and the other ties everything up. I’m sure you’ll figure out which is which.
Sequels are a tricky business and something that not even billionaire industrialist Tony Stark managed to successfully navigate without stumbling along the way. However, in his second solo outing Thor manages to avoid the pitfalls that destroy lesser sequels while sufficiently upping the ante post-Avengers.[youtube:http://youtu.be/4KTvjFGgGkk%5D