Sir Kenneth of Branagh directed the first Thor movie, which was a considerable coup for Marvel Studios at the time. I remember the distinctive Jack Kirby art from my youth- reprints mostly as Thor made his debut in the early 60’s. Marvel’s Thor sees the Norse God’s live in a fusion of high technology and magic, something which was put across well in the first film. Branagh managed to capture the other worldliness of the Asgardians very well and whilst it was obvious Thor was never going to join Mensa, it didn’t make quite as much of his brawn over brains attitude as the sequel does.
If you were to consider the first Thor film to be an apple, the best way to describe the second Thor film would to be that it is the apple peelings cunning crafted together to form the illusion of an apple without any of the content. The Dark World looks a lot like the first Thor film. It has a lot of the same cast but the plot? The pacing? The direction? Oh dear oh dear.
The plot as it is sees some sort of purple ectoplasm that might or might not be a weapon powerful enough to destroy pretty much everything infest Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster, you know, Thor’s human girlfriend from the first film. Later on there is a bit of chatter about immortals and humans being a recipe for misery but it’s over quickly as though the script is just really going through the motion and doesn’t want to risk having anything vaguely philosophical in it.
The first third of the film is general milling about, a bit of Xena level village fighting from Thor and co, Foster dates the Irish bloke from the IT Crowd and then some space/time anomalies present themselves in a Star Trek fashion. Oh, and some Dark Elves do their best impression of Mordor’s finest. This part feels like it takes approximately 300 hours of your life away for little recompense.
True, the rest of the film ups the pace somewhat and there is a great battle in Asgard but the script lets it down by packing in far far too many clichés to make it overly enjoyable. The pacing issues rears it’s head again when we break from urgent battle and defence to have a full on Asgardian state funeral in the aftermath. It just doesn’t work.
There is some pinging around through holes in the air for comic relief, some McGuffin science (and even science equipment) that doesn’t help the sense of coherency either.
The final confrontation at the National Maritime Museum finally manages to do was successive government funding cuts have so far failed to do and that’s reduce the building to rubble but it’s too little too late. The ending is silly. That the ending stands out as silly in a film with Norse Gods poncing about in very stylised armour speaks volumes.
We watched this on the back of two postive reviews; Total Film and Empire both gave Thor: The Dark World 4/5. That the Metacritic average is 44/100 is more telling and probably not far from the mark. Thor is easily the worst film I’ve seen this year, and probably the worst Marvel film I’ve seen from Marvel Studios. Even the Sony produced Fantastic 4 films were better than this, which is perhaps the most damning comment I could have made. The running time is 112 minutes but seriously, you’ll feel like you’ve sat through an entire season boxset of a very average US TV show by the time those 112 minutes have elapsed.