With the release date of the blu-ray and DVD of this film looming ever closer – the official date is February 25 – it seems a good time to have another look at this newest tale of the Asgardian hero with a big hammer; Thor: the Dark World takes place immediately after Thor and Loki depart earth for Asgard at the end of The Avengers, but, not before Odin (Anthony Hopkins) gives a history lesson about the Dark Elf Malekith; the story is grim, but the film itself is not too dark. Touches of humor are riddled throughout the film almost as if the director took notes from the master of humorous storytelling and director of The Avengers Joss Whedon.
All the main players are back from the first film, simply titled Thor. Directed this time by Alan Taylor who is best known for directing some of the most popular television series on the small screen. Taylor has recently been sharpening his director’s swords on the hugely popular HBO fantasy Game of Thrones. With this type of pedigree the chap who is better known for television projects must have been seen as being perfect for the second Thor feature.
Chris Hemsworth is back as the blonde-locked demigod who has a romantic interest in Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster. Considering that this is the 30 year-old actor’s third outing as the son of Odin and brother of Loki, it isn’t too surprising that the role fits Hemsworth like a well worn, but tight, glove. As equally at home in his role as Loki, the untrustworthy and grandiose trickster who longs for his own throne, is Tom Hiddleston. The 33 year-old actor is perhaps the most qualified actor to play opposite Hemsworth as the two close and quarreling siblings. Although, Loki is, as Thor points out in The Avengers, adopted.
Equally impressive is Stellan Skarsgård who reprises his role as Erik Selvig friend and mentor to Jane and unwilling host to Loki, in his head, throughout most of The Avengers. This brilliant actor is equally at home in his character’s skin, again, because he also has played Selvig three times now in three different films. In Thor, Skarsgård was protector of Jane and reluctant friend to the Hammer swinging Asgard. With the news that there will be, at least, one if not two more Thor films in the offing, no doubt Stellan will be back and continue to impress with his skills as an actor.
In Thor: The Dark World, which is dark, but not too much so; after Odin recites the tale of the dark elves, the audience is brought to “present day” and Thor is sorting out the nine realms and Loki is cooling his villainous heels in Asgardian dungeons. Thor is missing his human love interest and decides to pay her a very overdue visit. Meanwhile, back at Earth, Foster is attempting to move on having pretty much given up on the Demigod ever returning. After being interrupted on a date by her intern Darcy Lewis, played with kooky capability by Kat Dennings who tells her that something odd is happening and that Jane really should check it out; things move to a deserted warehouse in London.
While discovering an anomaly inside the warehouse, Foster stumbles over an artifact thought hidden since the defeat of the Dark Elf Malekith and it invades her body. Thor then turns up and after a short, and amusing, reunion the artifact which is known as Aether has taken over Jane’s system and apart from making her dangerous to others, she herself is in danger. After British police try, somewhat ham-handedly, to arrest Jane for trespassing, Thor takes Foster to Asgard to have her cured if possible.
The film does an adequate job of recreating the Asgardian verse and the only disappointing thing about the film is the loss of Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano who plays Hogun, one of Thor’s band of Asgard colleagues who join him anytime battle is due to commence. At the start of the film, when Thor is sorting out Vanaheim and after defeating the rebellious natives, Hogan is allowed to stay behind to help clean things up. This more than capable actor, who is best known for his role in the Takashi Miike cult classic Ichi the Killer, has not had too much to do in either Thor movie, but, it is hoped that this creative genius will eventually play a larger role in future films.
The obligatory Stan Lee cameo is present, as in all Marvel films, this time as an asylum inmate with Erik Selvig who is teaching the assorted “crazies” in a common room. After the lesson, Lee asks for his shoe back, which Erik is using as a teaching aid. The film does have many small touches of humor, some more slapstick in nature; as when Malekith and Thor hit the roof and side of a glass topped building but even this touch is deft and not done in a “Three Stooges” sort of way.
The graphics in the film amaze and do not lose a thing by being watched on a smaller screen. The FX are just as brilliant and the battles are impressive. The acting is without a doubt top notch. In a film where “smaller” roles are filled by acting royalty, i.e. Anthony Hopkins as Odin and Rene Russo – who may not class as royalty exactly, but does have an impressive pedigree – as Frigga, there can be no question as to delivery. Christopher Eccleston as Malekith is evilly brilliant and the award winning Idris Elba as the Asgard Sentry Guardian Heimdall is just as impressive in the second outing in the world of Thor as the first.
It would take too long and be ultimately boring to mention all the cast who adroitly make their characters come to life. Suffice to say the script combined with skilfull helmsmanship from Taylor as well as actors who all bring something to the party, Thor: The Dark World is a brilliant sequel to the first Asgard tale of a Demigod who fell in love with an earth woman and stayed on to become the planet’s defender. In this second tale, the film may be dark, but, not too dark. If the other sequels can maintain this quality the continuing story of Thor and his fellow Asgardians will be a special treat each and every time they appear. Available for streaming now and for sale from February 25, this is a real 5 star out of 5 film that in collector’s speak, “is a keeper.” Don’t forget to keep an eye out for another cameo of a miliary sort.
By Michael Smith