Thor: The Dark World - Cinema Review

'The scene in which Odin sagely points out that, whilst every other MacGuffin is solid, 'The Ether floats' is as close as you get to anything being explained to any sort of degree.'

People are still shouting at one another in Asgard. To be fair, unlike the first film, it's mainly now only Anthony Hopkins' Odin dishing out the tongue lashings, but still, once again: in Asgard people shout, on Earth they're a bit more restrained.

Despite the clear lines of distinction still being drawn between realms in Marvel's second stab at their Thor character, Thor: The Dark World, this still counts amongst the studios most promising properties. Unlike Captain America this isn't a franchise reliant on the buy-in of one market in particular, unlike Iron Man we're not bound to Earth and unlike almost everything else Marvel have got, this is established enough now to go anywhere it wants to really.

In a way, this is The Dark World's curse and blessing. This does go to places, and what places indeed, requiring such explanation that director Alan Taylor gives you a lengthy opening monologue from Odin, place name labels (including: 'London, England') and frequent bouts of exposition. It's telling that there's practically no explanation of this film's MacGuffin 'The Ether', nor of a set of key devices Erik (Stellan SkarsgÄrd) uses at the end of the film, nor of any other of the legion of things that go 'beep' or 'whizz'; if there was, we'd simply have run out of time. The scene in which Odin sagely points out that, whilst every other MacGuffin is solid, 'The Ether floats' is as close as you get to anything being explained to any sort of degree.

Whilst that is fine for the bizarre collection of alien detritus that litters the film, it's not fine when you get the impression that those factors extended to the plot. The reshoots this required are most obvious during the final scene, where the CGI behind Thor (Chris Hemsworth) clearly isn't as good as the rest of the film and his beard is noticeably darker and larger, but look closer and there are story holes and loops that don't make sense from the opening onwards. Start with 'how much of a coincidence is it exactly that Jane (Natalie Portman, looking like she doesn't want to be there) finds The Ether?' and work forwards from there, all the way to the end which, as well as being reshot, doesn't really leave you anywhere in regard to several things. It's one thing for Marvel to make sure they're churning out films there's a demand for but in this there are real creaks at the core; creaks the studio need to make sure don't get louder and larger if they want their product to survive en masse as it has so far.

On the plus side, and the reason why The Dark World is ultimately worth your time, is the fact that this isn't only the main Marvel character which they could take anywhere, it's also, arguably, the most fun. A scene with Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Thor walking through the halls, the former riffing on jokes relating to his disguise abilities, is joyous, as are the moments with Erik in his pants. Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and The Warriors Three don't get huge amounts to do, but they and Heimdall (Idris Elba) do have their moments here, Alexander in particular getting a bit more time to shine than in the previous film and all of them proving to be side heroes you can root for.

It's still very slight and there's still the feeling, as with most of Marvel, that you're watching this ahead of another film the studio have got one eye on, but as blockbuster efforts go it feels original, well designed and blisteringly quick.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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