Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Thor: The Dark World - Review

Me with a Mini Mjolnir at the Skype Preview in London
I've been a plus one at multiple pre-release date film screenings in the past as my fiancĂ© (luckily for me!) is a film critic. Despite attending so many, I've never actually reviewed any of them. This time, Matt was my plus one for a change so I made the decision to write this film review (review in the loosest sense of the word!), with that in mind please excuse me if I ramble.

Thor: The Dark World is set two years after the first film, and months after New York (I'm pretty sure you all know what happened there by now? Hell, if you've been watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D you've been reminded like a million times about New York!).

Thor has been fighting to restore peace throughout the realms and still resides in Asgard but despite being successor to the throne, Thor is unhappy. He no longer celebrates victories and fails to notice a very potential suitor in Sif, remaining faithful like a lovesick puppy for Jane Foster. He chooses to spend his nights with Heimdall (who wouldn't?! I love Idris Elba in this role!) to watch over Jane and ensure she is safe. Really? Jane Foster? The human mortal you barely met?

If I were Thor, I wouldn't be able to ignore Sif who is a strong warrior, awesomely badass and incredibly attractive! In fact, she's the one I'd have liked to have seen more of. She's such a great character but very and undeservedly underused. I would love to see a spin off just about her!

Anyway, I digress. Jane, Darcy and Erik are back on Midgard (Earth) and things are very much the same, except Jane is trying to move on (and failing, rather hilariously I might add!) though still trying to use her science-y brain to search for a way to find Thor. Darcy now has her own intern, Ian (or Iain...not sure of which spelling it is!) who is unfortunately, despite the fact he has been hired to help, is used as the butt of all of Darcy's sardonic jokes.

Then there's Erik, well...considering the events of New York, he's changed in that he's now slightly more eccentric to say the least (I won't go into detail here, you know...spoilers and all). One thing's for sure, all of the supporting cast give excellent, albeit typically formulaic (for a Marvel film) performances showing just how at home they are with their respective characters, despite how two dimensional they are.

There are also plenty of references to past events as expected (Oh, Marvel...*sigh*) and lots of new developments too, including themes of betrayal, trust and loss.  

The Asgardian realm looks stunning and its look has improved immensely from the last film owing to the fact it looks more lived in and organic and the Rainbow bridge is prettier than is Idris Elba *swoon* (Sorry, couldn't resist!). 

It's really hard to write this review without giving away major plot points but as is indicative from the trailer, Thor has to ask for the help of Loki and it's during this time that the film feels more like a buddy cop movie, with some hilarious one-liners from Loki. However, some fans might see this as a move away from his previous two appearances in The Avengers and Thor, personally I enjoyed it and felt it played up his playful, chaotic nature as a God of illusion and trickery.

There's one scene in particular which shows off the scale of Loki's illusionary abilities, again, for fear of spoilers I can't divulge the details of course, but let's just say it's wonderfully executed and very, very funny. Of course, Loki isn't there solely for comic relief and many of the scenes show off his distrustful, spiteful nature. The audience never fully trusts him and I think this sense of unease is fitting for his character. Tom Hiddleston did not want to be the big bad in this movie after Thor and The Avengers (Sorry, I still refuse to call it Avengers Assemble!), I think it was a wise move and one that shows Hiddleston knows his character incredibly well. 

One of the few things which irked me was the score by Brian Tyler. I left the screening humming it only to have Matt point out to me that I was basically humming the Iron Man theme. It didn't feel right for Thor and if I'm honest, the parts that sounded like Iron Man were the only bits I remember. The rest of the score passed by unnoticed.

My only other mild complaint was the underuse of supporting characters like Sif and The Warriors Three (Fandral, Hogun and Volstagg). I would have liked to see them involved in the final battle, a battle which felt on the same scale as The Avengers but lacked the same kind of fast paced action in favour of tension followed by a short burst of action and then undercut with moments of comic relief. I very much enjoyed the final battle but mostly for the reasons I can't say because of spoilers...sorry!

Overall, I recommend this film because the direction was good and the editing was well paced. It's funny at the right times and continually surprises the audience. The film is a vast improvement over Thor, aesthetically speaking and CGI effects actually looked good. I also liked how the dark elves (led by Christopher Eccleston as Malekith) looked, they were really creepy! A huge part of the film was set in Asgard too, making it feel more like a fantasy film than a "comic book film" - a term I despise because I believe comic book films are not a genre in themselves. If you can ignore the pseudo-science and the conveniently placed plot devices then this film is thoroughly enjoyable. If I had to give this a rating out of 10...I'd give it a very generous 8 but then, I might be a bit biased being a fan and all.

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