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The Avengers Thor: The Dark World
4/5
dir Alan Taylor
prd Kevin Feige
scr Christopher L Yost, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
with Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgard, Rene Russo, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ray Stevenson, Chris O'Dowd
release UK 30.Oct.13, US 8.Nov.13
13/UK Marvel 1h52
Thor: The Dark World
Brothers in arms: Hiddleston and Hemsworth

poerman hopkins elba
See also:
Thor (2011) The Avengers (2012)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Thor: The Dark World This sequel continues Marvel's bigger/wilder approach to filmmaking with a mega-adventure that leaves us worried about where they can go next. After flattening New York, they move on to London and then into cataclysmic action that spans the universe. And it's hugely entertaining.

Scientist Jane (Portman) is annoyed that Thor (Hemsworth) hasn't even called since their adventure two years ago. So when her intern Darcy (Dennings) finds a spatial anomaly in London, she leaps to investigate, ending up in the middle of a 5,000-year-old conflict between Thor's homeworld Asgard and the dark elf Malekith (Eccleston), whose Aether threatens to plunge all of existence into blackness. As a rare cosmic convergence approaches, Thor and Jane, with help from Darcy, mad-doctor Erik (Sarsgard) and Thor's malicious brother Loki (Hiddleston), must defy Odin (Hopkins) to keep Malekith from obliterating the universe.

Yes, this is about as high as the stakes can get, and the film's suitably massive scale is often exhilarating. Fortunately, the filmmakers pack every scene with zany comedy and deeper emotions, plus several terrific cameos. With a plot this portentous, it's always good to add a heavy dose of jagged sarcasm. Although the swirling excess of the effects work becomes a bit exhausting; it feels like the screenwriters merely used a holographic trick or spatial gateway whenever they wrote themselves into a corner.

The lively cast is well up to the task, adding just enough weight to the frenzied action. The only real characterisation is the terrific combination of sibling rivalry and brotherly love between Hemsworth and Hiddleston. Thor and Loki have a tetchy, perilous camaraderie that's the most interesting thing on-screen. Otherwise, Portman is a feisty damsel in distress, Hopkins is an old-school grump, Dennings is comic relief, Skarsgard is a nutty genius, and so on.

All of this plays out with such breathless pace that we barely notice the wild tonal shifts, brutal violence and over-crowded cast. But by focussing on Thor's key relationships (with Jane, Loki and Odin), the film locates something we can hold onto as the plot spirals into hyperbolic nonsense. Honestly, the big action climax is like watching Time Bandits on fast-forward. But it's so much fun (including a closing-shot twist and two post-credit stings) that it leaves us looking forward to Marvel's next episode.

cert 12 themes, violence 28.Oct.13

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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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