If you want brotherly angst and banter hammered into your Marvel heart, Thor: The Dark World, is the one to do it for you (pun intended).
And I am, I must confess, a Marvel film fan.
The short and spoiler free version:
Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Overall: A good story lit with a lot of humourous moments which really make it.
Summary: As the alignment of the nine realms comes closer Thor must save both Asgard and Earth from the Dark Elves and the mysterious liquid Aether which comes to harm Jane Foster.
The slightly longer version (spoilers):
The beginning is a little slow, with an unnecessary Dark Elf history lesson that basically gets covered by Odin later. However, once that little narrative is done, the film becomes the sort of pleasurable blockbuster that you might expect. Or maybe you didn’t, as it certainly exceeds the first Thor film. Thor, starting off the first of several funny one liners with ‘Anyone else?’ after defeating the champion at Vanaheim, comes back in his full muscled hammer-wielding glory – though it soon becomes clear he is pining after Jane.
Jane meanwhile is on a date despite pining after Thor, comic from the get-go as her date complains how distance killed his last relationship. The amusing awkwardness is interrupted by one of my favourite characters in the film – Darcy, Jane’s intern, who comes to deliver the cosmic news that…well, the cosmos is being weird. From here Jane travels to an abandoned building where we have the fantastic visual of a truck rotating slowly in mid air as the result of a nearby portal. Then, wandering away from the group like a horror cliche, she falls through another nearby portal, ends up on the ledge next to the box of Aether, gets infected by said Aether, falls back to Earth, bumps back into Thor (who has been too busy saving the Realms to pick up a phone) and is promptly abducted to Asgard.
It is at this point, though previously lit with light humour and introduction, that I feel the film really kicks in (not that the humourous moments stop). Let’s just skip to the punch and talk about Loki. Loki and Frigga. Loki and Thor. Avengers film aside and with the clear villian in this film being the far simpler villain Malekith, Loki really shines here as an interesting and complex character. Loki’s grief over Frigga’s death. Thor seeing through Loki’s illusion. And of course, Thor’s collaboration with Loki, showing wonderful development on Thor’s side as appreciating a less ham-fisted solution as well as the broken but sneaky still-standing Loki, a moving undercurrent to a wealth of light brotherly banter that ensues the moment Loki is freed from prison. [Looking like Captain America]’You wanna have a rousing discussion about truth and patriotism?’ [Thor tries to fly]’Whatever you’re doing, I suggest you do it faster’ [Thor flies]’I think you missed a column.’ ‘Well done, you just decapitated your grandfather’ [Jane faints]’Is she dead?’ So many hilarious one-liners (sorry for any inaccuracies). How you interpret his motivation at his ‘death’ and in the final scene is up to you, but feelings for me were definitely mixed. I was unable to pick out how much of his motivation was manipulation and how much genuine feeling, and I think ultimately it has to be a mix of both. Loki is hardly a good person, but he is a brilliant character.
After Loki’s essential departure from the film the plot proceeds rather as you’d expect, with fantastic CGI but predictable moves as Jane uses several realm-linking metal rod gizzmos to play a sort of intergalactic Portal. Thor wields Mjölnir like a boss, cars fly, tornadoes of darkness cause more pothole problems for the local council…
Truly, this is a film you love for the little gem moments rather than the overall plot. Thor hanging his hammer on a coat hook. ‘Naked and on TV’ Erik Selvig. The intern’s intern. The one-liners. The banter. It’s a film to make you happy and an easy film to enjoy. The Aether is wonderfully creepy in its animation and I loved the splinter-like small spaceships of the Dark Elves as they sliced their way through the stunning realm of Asgard. I feel like the intro lagged and post-Loki sections were weaker but it held together well enough, and for a watch or two with friends who share the interest? Great fun.