|Me with a Mini Mjolnir at the Skype Preview in London|
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!
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.
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.
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.