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By Tom Glasson
November 02, 2013
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Thor: The Dark World

A slick, action-packed sequel for Marvel's God of Thunder.
By Tom Glasson
November 02, 2013
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Few could deny the cinematic juggernaut that is the Marvel machine right now. In just the past decade we've had one Captain America, two Hulks, three Iron Men, four Spidermen and five X-Men movies, to say nothing of 2012's billion-dollar blockbuster The Avengers. In a few weeks another Captain America film hits cinemas, but opening this week is the second instalment from yet another Avengers spinoff, Thor: The Dark World.

The original Thor was released in 2011 and, under the direction of Kenneth Branagh, proved equal parts action and comedy as the impossibly-ripped Chris Hemsworth hammered his way through hordes of alien something-or-others then saved Earth. Two years later he's back, hammering his way through all-new hordes of alien something-or-others by day, whilst pining for his human, earth-dwelling girlfriend, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), by night. When she inadvertently releases an ancient mystical threat, the two star-crossed (or rather Bifrost) lovers are reunited, forced to evade and then confront yet another horde of aliens, known as the Dark Elves.

As appealing and charming as Hemsworth is in the lead, once again it's Tom Hiddleston as the mischievous Loki who proves himself the franchise's most charismatic and essential figure, grinning through clenched teeth and staring with burning intensity as the world around him crumbles. There is more depth to his character than all the others combined; a petulant villain seething with jealousy yet privately vulnerable and burdened with unspoken regret. Hiddleston's sublime performance manages to draw focus even when there's a full-blown, four-alarm CGI clusterfuck going on around him, and in this film that's a common occurrence.

Humour has always played a key part in the Marvel franchises, and — as with the original Thor — The Dark World derives most of its comedy from 'Norse-demigod-out-of-water' scenarios, this time juxtaposing the majesty of Thor with the banality of London's daily grind. It's missing the deftness of Branagh's touch, and while it doesn't play for laughs quite as often, those that feature generally land firmly. In some cases, exquisitely so.

Most importantly, though, Thor: The Dark World is a fun film to watch. The script is snappy, the action sequences are well paced and the final battle in Greenwich offers up a diabolical, Portal-like component that brings an exciting new meaning to 'war of the worlds'. Portman is more likeable this time round, too, dropping much of the goofy, doe-eyed traits that felt so out of place for an actress of her calibre in the original.

Lastly, Thor: The Dark World features not one, but two post-credits scenes, giving fans twice as many reasons to stay seated and discover who performed 'Key Grip' on set.

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