THOR: THE DARK WORLD. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Tom Hiddleston. Directed by Alan Taylor. 112 minutes. Rated M (action violence).
A venerable film reviewer often used a phrase to indicate that he thouhg a film was rather silly: ‘a load of codswallop’. Thor: The Dark World probably deserves this epithet, though in a kindly way. It is an enjoyable, though not great, Marvel Comics entertainment. But the plot is rather silly and the screenplay does not want to take the proceedings too seriously. There are quite a number of deadpan lines and some sending up of the heroes and villains. As with other Marvel Comics films, it is best to wait to see the inserted trailer of a film to come, this time featuring The Collector. And, better still to wait until the very end of the long credits where there is another minute of the plot, with the happiest of endings as well as a tongue-in-cheek joke.
Once again, Chris Hemsworth is the hero, Thor. He is more confident than ever, deep-voiced, vocally articulate, full of swagger. As before, he has to defy his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins more rhetorical than ever), grieve the death of his mother (Rene Russo), who is given a Viking funeral. He has to confront sinister and evil powers, deal with his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston relishing the role again), going back and forth between Asgard and Earth, teaming up with scientist Jane (Natalie Portman). In this sense, the story is not full of surprises as was the original film.
And, once again, there is an evil race, led by Christopher Eccleston, who have discovered the Aether, which they need to possess in order to take world domination, especially at the time of the configuration of the nine elements. This means that there are many sinister scenes and battles, especially to introduce the story. Meanwhile, on earth, scientist Eric Selvig (Stellan Skarsgaard), has gone berserk running around Stonehenge with his equipment but naked, landing in in a mental institution. Jane is still doing her work but goes out to lunch with a co-worker, a cameo by Chris O’Dowd. Her assistant Darcy, Kat Jennings, is still sardonic, but has a naff intern, Ian, Jon. And then Thor turns up on earth after two years’ absence, with Jane angry at him.
However, with the threats of the enemy, Jane is taken up to Asgard and later abducted with Thor rescuing her as she becomes a victim of the enemy, wanting to take her life-force. Loki is imprisoned before Thor takes the risk, with conditions, for Loki to help him in his mission. But the climax is to be held on earth, in London for a change instead of New York or an American City, specifically at Greenwich where it will be meantime in more senses than one.
More battles, more heroics, more romance.
One of the advantages of the sequel is that there is a good deal of attention given to Loki, the fans having appreciated him in the original film as well as in The Avengers. He has quite a few amusing comments and ironic remarks, which audibly pleased the preview audience a great deal. Since the screenplay, serious, does not always take itself too seriously, there are some amusing moments which make the codswallop acceptable.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out October 31, 2013.