********* 7 out of 10 *********
In May 2011, when the character Thor was introduced in the theatre halls, Marvel’s grand plans of creating a superhero universe where one movie tied-in with the other was well underway. There had already been two movies revolving around Iron Man, the Hulk had been reintroduced, and the Avengers movie had been announced for a summer 2012 release, something that everyone was dying to see. So Thor and subsequently Captain America: The First Avenger were taken as steps to reach the Avengers; for some they were the back stories to be known before stepping in to watch The Avengers. Things have changed since then. Chris Hemsworth made an impressionable Thor in 2011 and then came back as the God of Thunder in The Avengers which was a colossal hit. The bad guy which the Avengers had to beat turned out to be Loki, Thor’s brother, played so wonderfully by Tom Hiddleston that Loki became one of the most suave Hollywood villains of recent times. After the events of New York, people are now eager to know more about the paths that each of the members of the Avengers embarks on, and the challenges they are bound to face which will intertwine once again for the sequel The Avengers: Age of Ultron. So even though Thor: The Dark World is a sequel, it probably garners more respect and most likely, more eyeballs, than its predecessor as a movie about Thor and those around him. Thor: The Dark World stands strong on the mighty shoulders of the talented actors featuring in the movie, and with a visually appealing backdrop, the movie does make the Marvel franchise proud.
Thor: The Dark World continues the tale after Loki’s (Tom Hiddleston) capture by the group of superheroes in The Avengers. A prisoner in Asgard now, Loki is banished to the dungeons by the king, Odin (Anthony Hopkins). But there is a new evil brewing. An ancient evil which was thought to have been destroyed even before Odin’s reign. The Dark Elves with Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) as their leader seek it to bring an end to all the worlds. It is left to Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the Asgardians to safeguard the nine realms again. And things are further complicated when Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) gets embroiled in all this chaos, straining Thor’s ties between his love for Jane and his loyalty to his father. The movie’s trailer had borne this question, “What will you sacrifice, for what you believe?”, and that becomes a strong theme in the movie.
The major worry about the movie would have been the change in the director, as the reins moved from Kenneth Branagh to Alan Taylor. Branagh had done a solid job with the first movie, Thor, displaying a visually captivating Asgard and the secrets it held, the transformation of a hot-headed prince to a more empathic superhero, the shrewdness and cunning of a brother that set him up well to be the bad guy in The Avengers. Alan Taylor came in with little film directing experience, but if you had any doubts of how he would handle a film of such proportions, then those would have been wiped away in the first few moments into the movie itself. The movie opens with a narrative and a battle scene, which immediately engages you in the story; it is one of those movies where a five-minute delay because you had to go back to grab your cellphone, would mean losing out on the crux of the plot which sets the tone for what follows next. Thor: The Dark World was meant to be grittier than the first one; the events of New York were bound to leave scars, the perpetrator of those events was a captive on Asgard, the evil that Thor had to battle now is much bigger than that in the previous movie, and the losses in this story are much more than before. And Alan Taylor does quite a commendable job in bringing out this darker shade of the movie while still keeping intact the charm and appeal of Asgard’s grandeur. Despite lack of film directing experience, it seems that Taylor turned out to be one of the best candidates for this sequel, having helmed six episodes of the fantasy based TV series Game of Thrones which too deals with such darker tones. The editing is top notch, the cinematography is again amazing, and for such movies, you have to take out a moment to applaud the make-up and costume departments. It is said that three hours of daily make-up was required for Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s character of Kurse, while Malekith’s character needed six hours!
Thor: The Dark World has an amazing string of actors attached to it. But the movie’s best moments no doubt belong to Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, especially when their characters are together. Hemsworth might not have been known to many when Thor released two years back, but now who wouldn’t be able to recognise him in the first instant? Having already given a tremendous performance in Rush released a little earlier this year, Hemsworth steps into the armour and cape of Thor with the confidence of someone who believes that the role is meant for him, and no one could do a better job at it than him. He has a lot to offer in the sequel, moments of pain and anguish, moments of anger and hate, and moments of love and duty, and Hemsworth does Thor proud by delivering an emphatic performance on all those occasions. Right alongside him is Hiddleston’s Loki, shrewd and cunning, “a live spark” as Hiddleston himself says of Loki. Loki deceives, Loki entertains, Loki completes Thor in a way that is difficult to write in words. It is down to Hiddleston’s perfect understanding of the character, putting on the captivating charm with a cunning smile which gives no hint of what would follow next, that Loki has turned out to be a surprise hit in this Marvel world, especially amongst the ladies! Much of the magic stems from these two, their chemistry, their love-hate relationship, and while some would complain that the movie needed more of it, I find that the dosages of it were just about perfect, making them savoury.
With the likes of Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Rene Russo and Idris Elba, and a host of others in the movie, there can hardly be any complains on the acting front. Christopher Eccleston (of Doctor Who fame) as the leader of the Dark Elves makes for a tough character and a dangerous adversary with a singular agenda on his mind (much in the General Zod category). While the movie hardly lacks a dull moment, it does fall short on the story line. The story does enough to build further on from the previous movie Thor and The Avengers, and does add more to each character, but the main threat that the world is facing has become a bit too clichéd. The end of the world, to be more precise. The form and the means change, but the end goal remains the same, which does not make your heart skip a beat even once. End of the world, eh, that’s never going to happen, is what you say! Then the universes aligning perfectly once in blah blah number of years is too cheesy a plot to use for a movie of such scale. The writers try to make it sound like a big thing, throwing in scientific terms here and there, without actually making much sense, ending up ridiculing the intelligence of the audience, rather than anything else. This is where a Joss Whedon film will differ, for he will not try to bamboozle you, but works along with you to explain things, which makes the threat sound really enormous and fearful. Nonetheless, the movie does encompass each of the characters’ presence well enough, never appearing light-weighted. A shout out to one of the story writers, Don Payne, involved with 2011’s Thor as well and has worked on The Simpsons TV series, who sadly passed away before the release of Thor: The Dark World.
Before we round it up, remember, there is a mid-credits scene in the movie which leapfrogs the story into another movie (just as the good old Marvel movies do!) as well as an end-credits scene. There is a fun-filled Stan Lee cameo, and another one by an Avengers member which is full of laughs. All in all, Thor: The Dark World has taken the grand plans of Marvel admirably forward. With Hemsworth contracted for a third Thor film and two more films on the Avengers, we can get to see a lot more of him in the future. For he is after all worthy of holding onto Mjölnir, isn’t he?