Following the Avengers’ epic antics in New York, our return to Asgard sees Thor (Chris Hemsworth) hailed as a hero amongst his people, while his adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is condemned to spend the rest of his days in confinement for his crimes. It’s been two years since Thor and his Earthling love interest Jane (Natalie Portman) have seen one another, and it’s safe to say that the long distance is putting a strain on their daily lives (she can’t function around other men, he sighs wistfully etc.) But their paths are soon set to cross once more, as Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) – leader of the Dark Elves – has risen again and he’s searching for his deadly Aether, the force with which he means to destroy the universe. Where is this Aether, you ask? Why, it’s (somehow) stored itself within Jane, of course. Thor to the rescue! While a little shambolic at times (it has its foot firmly on the accelerator from the beginning), Thor: The Dark World is just about everything a superhero movie should be. There’s plenty of action and a strong sense of something to fight for – particularly for those of us in the UK watching the baddies smash up Greenwich with a fierce feeling of protectiveness. The visuals surrounding this action are understandably epic, perhaps lacking in substance but engaging on an impressively large scale. There’s also some real emotion to the storyline, mainly coming from the fantastically written relationship between Thor and Loki. Complex and compelling, there’s a constant desire for the pair to develop genuine care and concern for one another, and the promise/suggestion of this alone is enough to keep any audience watching. But the film’s success lies in its humour. Never feeling forced or contrived, it manages to provide countless laugh out loud moments through witty dialogue exchanges and subtle details. Importantly, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and rather accepts the genre for what it is as opposed to trying to mould it into something more grounded. Understandably, this means that the plot suffers somewhat – we never really delve into the antagonists deep enough to discover any solid motives, and the plot in general is a bit fantastical, but commendable performances from Hemsworth and Hiddleston make it all the more forgivable. Thor: The Dark World will hopefully lead the way for a slightly different kind of superhero movie, the likes of which cinemas haven’t seen for a while – a self-aware, well acted film, with a sequel that’s even better than the original.
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