Fresh from his “New York” gig (The Avengers), we have the second solo instalment for the man god with the Hammer, “Thor” (Chris Hemsworth).
Back on his home world Asgar, his brother “Loki” (Tom Hiddleston) is languishing in a cool “Apple style” prison, whilst Thor and his merry band mop up the last few elements of unruliness. This will ensure the nine realms live happily ever after, under the benign rule of “Odin” (Anthony Hopkins) and his much loved wife Frigga (Rene Russo).
Meanwhile in an ancient flashback we get acquainted with Aether, a very dark power the Dark Elve warriors “Kursed”, led by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) are keen to get their hands on. They are frustrated in this endeavour by the armies of Asgard, led by “Bor”, Odin’s father living many thousands of years ago.
Back on Earth, Astrophysicist “Jane” (Natalie Portman) is led by her intern “Darcy” (Kat Dennings), equipped with her own PA, to an abandoned warehouse where objects appear to act oddly, disappearing to another dimension when dropped from a staircase.
Separating from the group, Jane is suddenly teleported to another realm as you do and becomes possessed by the ancient super weapon Aether, an easy mistake to make whilst out taking a stroll.
Concerned for Jane’s safety, after being alerted to her plight by Fandral (Idris Elba), Thor brings Jane to Asgard. It is obvious her presence in Asgard is dangerous, as it lures the Kursed like a moth to the light, or darkness to the Aether. Following events, Thor is obliged to trust Loki and Fandral to find a way to leave Asgard against his fathers wishes, leading to an attempt to trick Malekith and destroy the Aether.
Can Loki be trusted, is the fate of the world’s safe, will the foretold alignment of all nine realms lead to a cataclysmic event, all good comic book questions to answer.
The film is an obvious upgrade from the original film with a budget to match, Hemsworth and Hiddleston play their parts with consummate ease and obvious glee. Hemsworth retaining his almost Shakespearean style of delivery, which remains a source of amusement to the audience but is largely accepted by the earth bound characters. Both lead actors star wattage is much higher than before and clearly are enjoying every scene and one-liner. It is now difficult to imagine either part being played by other actors.
As before, the film seemingly represents a hybrid of earlier movies, stealing like a hyperactive magpie from new Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Occasionally the slim story and movie Macguffin (Aether) is exposed and the film skirts close to Game of Thrones (GOT) without the sex and gore. All huge throne rooms, fabulous cities and dark portentous events hanging over proceedings. Director Alan Taylor, previously directed 6 GOT episodes which may explain the similarities.
However, if you treat the film as pure entertainment, as you should, there is much fun to be had. Buoyed by the lead actors having a blast and not taking themselves too seriously. However Hopkins looks somewhat uncomfortable, perhaps not getting the “do not take this too seriously memo” and Rene Russo gets little to do. However gate keeper Elba, obviously a much bigger star than before, gets his role beefed up accordingly.
Back on earth, Stellan Skarsgard as a scientist helping Jane, gets ready for his “Nymphomaniac” Lars Von Triers directed role, by spending much of the time in a state of undress or in an institution, presumably the pay was good. Portman, understandably performing heroine in distress duties most of the time still manages to be attractive, strong and vulnerable as required. We also get a brief cameo from Chris O’Dowd as Jane’s prospective boyfriend post Thor, good luck with that endeavour.
There is plenty of humour to puncture the preposterousness of a man/god with a big hammer smashing stuff up, which is almost a pre-requisite in our post-modern, self referential movie world.
Watch out for two post credit sequences, a neat cameo and of course Stan Lee, all now well established Marvel studio trademarks.
A different, better and more confident film than the original and continues to expand the Thor universe in an interesting way.
Hemsworth and Hiddleston are on fine form, if you like comic book superhero films with state of the art effects and enjoyable characters, this will do very nicely.