Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Thor: The Dark World (12A)

And so the Marvel juggernaut rumbles on in the post-Avengers universe - this year we've already had Tony Stark back for more in Iron Man 3, and now Thor has dusted off his hammer for another bash at baddies.

And he's got some ground to catch up.

Pre-Avengers, Thor was a baby of the box office bunch (if you ignore Ed Norton's Hulk attempt, and I am), making a 'mere' $450m and putting him ahead of only Captain America.

But, having now saved New York and beaten his brother for a second time, one can safely assume Thor: The Dark World will play to a wider audience.

Sadly, said audience was spoilt by Joss Whedon's epic - so phase two of Marvel's bid to take over the world has to aim higher. Much higher.

And while Iron Man succeeded by adding a more human element to the playboy hero, Thor finds himself straddling two worlds - both figuratively and literally.

The first film had to obviously set the character up, and then create a baddy who could actually go toe-to-hammer with Asgard's favourite son.

Post Avengers, the world and his mother know who he is, so we can just get on with the action, yes? Well, kinda...

On the plus side, Thor: The Dark World is visually brighter than Kenneth Brannagh's first effort - a dark and moody tone severely hampered by the 3D glasses.

Not a problem this time round.

Even with the glasses on, Asgard shines like never before. And, in places, the tone is noticeably lighter as well, with the comic touches giving the film a welcome lift.

And it needs it.

Written pretty much by committee, at times T:TDW (lets call it that, eh?) feels like a series of vignettes strung together by a pre-arranged narrative (baddy finds a thing that should have been hidden, uses it to try and destroy everything, hilarity ensues etc).

Alan Taylor, making his film directorial debut after some stellar TV work, has also struggled to get a handle on just what sort of story he's telling here.

Which is a pity, because there's so much potential.

Chris Hemsworth has clearly settled into his armour, Natalie Portman is more at ease as scientist-cum-girlfriend Jane, Tom Hiddleston has (rightly) made Loki a superstar, Idris Elba is wonderfully mystical as Asgard's guardian - it's all in place for a wonderful, god-like romp.

But, it just feels flat in places.

When it's good, it's good - Hiddleston shines once more, the comic touches are superb (Thor on the Tube a particular highlight) - but it feels like no one could get a handle on the troublesome elves.

Christopher Eccleston lacks the real malevolence needed for a super-baddy (the effect on his voice being a major problem), while the attack on Asgard is poor-man's Star Wars/Star Trek mash-up.

Then there's good ol' Sir Anthony Hopkins.

At times, he brings his Shakespearian gravitas to bear with good effect (something that was used well in the first film), but at other times it's clear he neither believes in nor cares about what he's saying. Which gives certain scenes a throw-away feel.

And poor old Thor's pretty much on his own.

His cohorts - a good source of levity last time round - are reduced to bit-part players, while Sif's (a strangely muted Jaimie Alexander) feelings for old beardy are laid out for all to see but then never dealt with, and he's never given enough time with either Jane or Loki to get any real screen relationship established.

(Yes, I know you could say that was done last time, but it's needed here too.)

When T:TDW hits, it hits - and Hiddleston steals every scene he's in. And Hopkins aside, there's not a bad performance. Well, OK, giving Jane's intern Darcy (Kat Jennings on good form once more) an intern of her own is a mis-step, but other than that...

It's just that the flat patches are very noticeable. The pacings slow at times, making the brighter moments that much brighter while sadly also highlighting the flaws.

Almost certainly, having shone in Avengers, Loki and Thor will sweep all before them in the coming weeks, but as a Marvel devotee I wanted more.

1 comment:

  1. Good review Kahn. It was a fun movie, but most importantly, it showed that these characters are still interesting enough to actually care about and not get sick and tired of. Something that seems so easy with half of these superhero movies.