Thursday 14 November 2013

Thor: The Dark World

Last year's Avengers Assemble ruined my conviction that I could not be havin' with superhero movies, that they just did not interest me. I saw it at the cinema, bought the DVD and somehow managed to watch it three times in a single week, before going out to acquire all of the prequels. Thor was entertaining enough, though quite thin on story, with some gorgeous visuals, erm... other gorgeous visuals, and some wonderfully laugh-out-loud funny parts.

But for the most part, I felt that it was a set-up for the main Avengers movie, introducing one of its heroes and its main antagonist. The Dark World takes place after the events of Avengers Assemble. Loki is in disgrace and in prison, while Thor and his Asgardian friends face a force of Dark Elves, led by Malekith, in a war which spans all of the Nine Kingdoms. The opening battle sequences were extraordinarily reminiscent of the prologue to the Fellowship of the Ring movie.

On Earth, scientist Jane Foster has relocated to London, where she can be found reluctantly on a date with a very sweet young man who just can't compare to the godlike being who swept Jane off her feet and then disappeared to fight aliens in New York and Asgard without even a phone call. Luckily, sassy intern Darcy crashes the world's most miserable date and drags Jane off to investigate some strange phenomenon. Upon closer examination, Jane gets either infected or possessed by the Dark Elves' deadly "Aether" power, but not to fear: in comes Thor in a suitably British rainstorm and whisks her off to Asgard.

Asgard is beautifully created on the big screen, an inspired combination of Norse mythology and science fiction which really shouldn't work, but does. The realm celebrates victory against Malekith, though everyone is aware that the war is not over yet. The best parts of Thor showed the Asgardian trying to adapt to an unfamiliar world; this time it is Jane's turn. This is where her lover calls home. Thor has matured since we last saw him, taking on responsibilities he hadn't been ready for until now.(There are also a few camera shots that were purely there for the female gaze, but let's appreciate this redress of the balance within the genre of comics and comic-book-movies. And Mr Hemsworth.)

The first part of the film is enjoyable enough, easy to watch, but the brilliance really starts, unsurprisingly, when Thor enlists his brother Loki. Tom Hiddleston was always going to be the real star of this film, and he is hilarious with his smart one-liners, trickery and disguises. One disguise in particular is sheer genius, and will have Avengers followers cheering with glee. Yet there is also some sadness, when you actually get to see Loki with all his illusions stripped away, and again, a little later. Hiddleston slides effortless between quick-witted snark and breaking your heart, and back again. The plot twists and turns, as you might expect if you get the god of mischief involved, with betrayals, double- and triple-crossing. Thor might have his brother on his side through necessity, but trusting him would be foolishness.

Second to Thor and Loki's banter in terms of humour comes from Jane's back-up team: Darcy, Darcy's own intern Ian, and Erik Selvig, who seems to have lost some of his marbles - as well as his clothes - after the events of The Avengers. Thor asking for directions on the London Underground also brought a smile to my face. Thor brings the film's climactic battle to London, and I have to admit it was great to see London getting smashed by aliens on the big screen for once. I appreciated the CGI much more when it was familiar landmarks being destroyed, instead of it being "Oh, look, someone's broken New York again."

Finally, let me leave you with a short video clip of Loki conducting some very important research to answer the question of who is better, Thor or Loki, once and for all.


  1. THIS POST. THIS POST, KATIE. You said all the things. I too *cough* appreciated a certain thirty seconds of the film in which Thor lost his shirt and then did things with water. I also really wanted Jane's Asgardian dress, that was beautiful. And Thor's hotter this time, with the longer hair and the wrappy-capey thing going on. (Technical wardrobe term, go with it.)

    "Oh, look, someone's broken New York again." OH GOD YES. It WAS nice to see London getting a taste of the alien apocalypse for a change. So many times I roll my eyes at a movie and go "Seriously? The aliens just happened to arrive in New York, again? Because there are NO OTHER PLACES?"

    I though Asgard was BEAUTIFUL, and THAT SCENE - you know the scene - broke my heart. The music, the lights, the stars... It hurt. But Loki was my favourite. Loki's always my favourite. He's SO funny, and Hiddleston's SO good at flipping between 'broken Loki' and 'mischievous Loki', and yes, THAT Avengers-related moment got a lot of appreciation in the cinema when I went to see it last week! I thought the humour was excellent - Jane baffling the Asgardian physicians, and ALWAYS KAT DENNINGS I LOVE HER - and ohhhh Loki and the children. Did you see the outtake bit where he says "I am Loki, of Asgard" and the little girl on the left pipes up "I'm Diana, of New Jersey!" Brilliant.

    I'm off to tweet this review now and send everyone here to find out why ALL THE PEOPLE MUST WATCH THOR.

    1. This comment put a big smile on my face. YES EVERYONE NEED TO WATCH THOR! Because I've never been to New York, and so many alien/disaster films are set there I don't really think about how the movie-makers cause chaos and destruction on the screen without ACTUALLY causing chaos and destruction. Because I know London quite well I can marvel (sorry) at how impressively they can wreck it.

      Thanks for tweeting about the review.

  2. I thoroughly made the most of my right to a female gaze watching this film. THOROUGHLY.

    That video! Seriously, Loki...just give me a minute to calm myself...*ahem*. He is such an amazing actor. I like Thor and all but Loki is just a whole other level of brilliance.

    I got so excited when they landed in London. I nudged my sister and excitedly whispered 'that's Greenwich' but my knowledge of London landmarks failed to impress her and she shushed me. But you're right, the aliens seem to only find a tiny dot in the whole world so it was nice to see them branch out and not use the find NY setting on the old sat nav.

    Amazing review, Katie!

    1. "the find NY setting on the old sat nav"... Aaaaaah, so THAT'S the problem. Damn alien technology and their US-centric default options. :P

      Have you seen the trailer for Only Lovers Left Alive? It's a new (excellent-looking) vampire movie - more like old-skool Anne Rice than Twilight, never fear - and it stars Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as two vampires called Adam and Eve. John Hurt and Mia Wasikowska (is that right?!) are in it too. A CAST MADE OF WIN. Also, there's nudity. Which doesn't hurt in a vampire movie. :)

    2. I was excited for London. Because London!

      I only heard about Only Lovers Left Alive today, when someone posted about it on Twitter. I must do my research on this film.

  3. There's lots of good things going around right now about The Dark World so I do mean to see it. I'm not a manic Marvel fan but I enjoyed the Avengers and Tom Hiddleston is certainly a good actor. I also like the sound of London being the setting for the climax. Go London!
    P.S. I've heard Christopher Eccleston's not in it much, which is sad. Is this true?

    1. Quite honestly I didn't even realise it was Mr Eccleston - he's pretty well disguised although if I'd known in advance he was playing Malekith I'm sure I'd have recognised him.


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