Reviews

Thor: The Dark World

4

Asgard as it gets…

 

We all live in a post-Avengers world, a fact that must surely give Marvel confidence as it strides through the second phase of its blockbuster masterplan. As the sequels mount up, though, there is a choice to be made on which way to go, a decision to reach on the right tone to take. One might even say there’s a Thork in the road.
 
Do you go the big and ballsy route like Iron Man 3, upping the ante – more bangs, more villains, more metal suits – to stratospheric levels? Or should you follow the sombre path forged by The Dark Knight, Empire and their ilk – more gloom, more doom and the occasional bout of tragedy?
 
Duh! Ok, so The Dark World tag rather gives the game away on that front. Pleasingly, Alan Taylor’s follow-up to Kenneth Branagh’s 2011 original retains its predecessor’s sense of fun, lacing its Tolkiensque plot (evil elves plotting the Nine Realms’ destruction with the help of ancient space goo) and sober interludes (a mass funeral) with some witty gags (Thor takes the Tube! Stellan Skarsgard naked at Stonehenge!) and a delicious flock of cameos (one inevitable, the other delightfully unexpected).
 
Sure, Game Of Thrones director Taylor adds mud, grime and glowering skies, not least when the action decamps to rainy old London. Ultimately, however, such shadings are as cosmetic as the prosthetics used to morph Christopher Eccleston into elf leader Malekith: eye-catching, yes, but also kind of distracting.
 
Because try as it might to introduce elements of pain, loss and dynastic tension, Thor 2 can’t get away from Thor himself – an unvanquishable deity from outer space who wields lightning with a flying hammer. This is not, in short, a character to be taken overly seriously, and Chris Hemsworth has played him long enough to know there’s a balance to be struck between rock-jawed heroism and winking knowingness, even when he’s reeling from a crisis (an aerial attack on Asgard bearing unmistakeable shades of 9/11) or railing against the parental dictates of Anthony Hopkins’ Odin.
 
In truth Hemsworth feels a tad sidelined this time around, a bit of a passenger in his own star vehicle. Yet it could hardly be otherwise once Tom Hiddleston rejoins the party. The Brit returns to deliver all the best lines as a live-wire Loki who, having used up all his bad-guy credit in Avengers Assemble, now has a go at being his adoptive brother’s reluctant ally.
 
The scenes in which the squabbling siblings stage a jailbreak with the help of Thor’s pals (the only meaningful contribution made by Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi and Jaimie Alexander) or fight Malekith and his Male-kin on the black dunes of Svartalfheim have a zip and brio that heaves the picture out of its second-act doldrums. Shame there’s isn’t half as much energy in Hemsworth’s dealings with astrophysicist squeeze Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), whose only function is to a) happen upon the ‘Aether’ Eccleston’s been after for millennia and b) give Thor grief for not calling.
 
(Portman, reportedly, was none too thrilled when first-choice helmer Patty Jenkins was ousted in favour of Taylor. We bet she wasn’t too happy either when she found out her contractually enforced participation amounted to little more than being a damsel in distress, lumbered with cumbersome dialogue like “physics are going to go ballistic!”, a drippy dinner date with Chris O’Dowd, and a sarcastic assistant – Kat Dennings’ Darcy – whose every word’s a wisecrack.)
 
It turns out that Malekith has his eyes on The Convergence, a rare alignment of the Nine Realms that will allow him to take them all out in one fell swoop. The odd thing is that there is so little else here that’s in similar sync. The film lurches from spectacular battle scene to comedic encounter to familial reconciliation with little concern for how it all adds up (evidence of re-shoots ahoy…).
 
The big finale, which involves Hemsworth and Eccleston pursuing each other through multiple dimensions, is a case in point: a barrage of effects-fuelled activity that’s as exciting to watch as it’s impossible to follow. But who’s complaining? We’re already looking forward to Guardians Of The Galaxy...

Verdict:

Marvel’s man with the mallet does all that’s required of him in a breakneck sequel that’s never dark for long. Next time, though, we’ll have more Loki and fewer elves.

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Film Details

User Reviews

    • hawkass

      Oct 24th 2013, 15:57

      Dude, I appreciate good reviews for this but for Christ's sake, quit it with the spoilers. I'm sorry I read this. You did the same with Iron Man 3. There's got to be a way to summarise the good and the bad without giving away each act of the film.

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    • Ali1748

      Oct 24th 2013, 18:37

      Total Film could you please make sure to notify us about credit stings in the reviews. I just want to know if I have to wait through all of the credits to see the next teaser or not. Don't spoil it just tell us to wait, please.

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    • H3isenberg

      Oct 24th 2013, 19:47

      Could you be any more spoilerific.

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    • Chufferstud

      Oct 25th 2013, 10:10

      I think it's hard to give a proper review without touching on plot points. If not they would read "I loved the bit where...oh I can't say" and "there was this one bit...which sadly I can't tell you about". If you feel that passionate about going into film knowing nothing about what happens, simply don't read reviews. As for the after credit scenes, I personally want to know if it's worth waiting 15mins to watch a 1min clip of nothing. I'd rather wait for it to appear on YouTube and watch it over and over again.

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    • batt101

      Oct 26th 2013, 6:31

      So is this a proper review, it reads like a 2 star film and then its given 4 stars?? Where in this review does it merit 4 stars? Hope it is a 4 star film but I wish I had never bothered reading Neil Smiths confusing and spoiler ridden review....

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    • Ali1748

      Oct 26th 2013, 10:49

      endofdays - much obliged kind sir.

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    • Ali1748

      Oct 29th 2013, 9:27

      endofdays - Much obliged kind sir.

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    • FBJHughes

      Oct 30th 2013, 13:45

      5

      Thor out of thive!! Great movie...wait for the extra post credit scenes!!

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    • portland6

      Oct 31st 2013, 8:49

      Well, I thought that was fantastic. It was Walt Simonson's Thor on screen, at times epic, funny, personal, scary, giving each of the large cast a moment to shine. Best Avenger movie yet, when's it on DVD!

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    • Benben05

      Oct 31st 2013, 11:44

      Its a good film but my issue is that the minute the battle hits London surely SHIELD would be all over it!!!, even if its just an acknowledgement. IM3 has some shield in it as does The Winter Soldier, I would have expected a little in this film.

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    • rhyshinsley

      Nov 1st 2013, 11:19

      This isn't even a review, you are just ruining the film for people. Since when did film journalism become so deprived that all you can discuss is the synopsis? Its so sad to see.

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    • TomBeasley

      Nov 1st 2013, 12:25

      4

      Yet again, a three-star review of a Marvel film with four stars at the top of it. It's okay to not be that impressed by Marvel guys. Doesn't have to be a default four-star minimum. For the record, I do think this is a four-star film. Joyously funny, action-packed and simply a really good time. Feels like it had 15-20 mins of Malekith and exposition chopped to get below 2 hours though.

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    • Ali1748

      Nov 2nd 2013, 16:32

      5

      Wow just wow that was f***k**g amazing!!! Dare I say even better than The Avengers. Alan Taylor has done a fantastic job with The Dark World, it was a fantastic movie. Thor 2 is easily now my favorite movie of the year so far, The Hobbit has its work cut out if it's going to top that joyful experience. Oh and Shane Black that is how you make a Marvel movie! BTW that credit sting has me superpumped for a certain cosmic movie coming out next year ;-)

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    • Chufferstud

      Nov 6th 2013, 15:33

      3

      Saw this last week and thought it was very entertaining. My favourite character was Kurse as his transformation in the cell truly made me scared. Other great points (spoilers): Frigga's fighting skills and beautiful funeral, the gravitas of Anthony Hopkins and of course Loki. However...I really feel that London was let down and filmed in such a boring way. New York was almost a character in The Avengers, but I feel this film could have been set anywhere as not enough of our great capital was shown. Most of it was in some sort of industrial site or Greenwich, which whilst lovely was shot too close up to really appreciate it, you could tell it was director by someone used to shooting for TV. But the action was great and the humour spot on. Looking forward to Thor 3 or whatever it will be called.

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    • FBRFirth

      Nov 6th 2013, 15:35

      5

      appalling excuse of a review - so glad i managed to keep clear of this until i'd seen the film. Especially as it was brilliant, certainly made me re-evaluate my favourite marvel cinema outting

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    • johnfre4

      Nov 19th 2013, 17:13

      great film!!! just so it online in HD www. movies720phd. eu.tf great video and audio all 10 ....

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    • hulk68

      Dec 3rd 2013, 10:37

      2

      Nonsense the movie was not half as good as part 1 its silly and confusing the story and acting is farce

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