Review: Thor – The Dark World / Cert: 12 / Director: Alan Taylor / Screenplay: Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely / Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Christopher Eccleston / Release Date: Out Now
The Marvel movie-making machine ploughs further into Phase 2 of their battle plan with an action-packed sequel that just about hits all the required beats. Thor: The Dark World follows the dictates of Movie Follow-up Rules 101 by giving you more of everything: from Thor kicking ass to Thor being funny. It broadens the scope of the universe with the techno-Nibelungen production design mixing up Norse mythology and science fiction traditions into a striking melange.
The sight of mighty Thor (Hemsworth) getting some hammer time with Mjolnir makes the fans happy, for sure, but it is Tom Hiddleston’s Loki who has emerged as the secret weapon of these films (as well as Joss Whedon’s Avengers Assemble). Loki’s reptilian menace is enriched with a poignant take on familial disgruntlement and entitlement. Hiddleston has created a boo-hiss pantomime villain and provided the character with a sense of near-Shakespearean tragedy.
Thor’s ‘adopted’ brother is also given a fresh coat of dramatic depth, too, by virtue of what could be the classic redemption arc. Loki does have amends to make, after all. There was the nefarious scheme to seize the throne of Asgard, kill his brother, destroy Earth, reduce NYC to dust and subjugate the entire human race! As Malekith (Eccleston) and his mecha-pixies (sorry, dark elves) threaten to destroy the universe with a cosmic weapon/ force known as the Aether, Thor must learn to put his trust in Loki if they are to break out of Asgard and save the day. It’s a big ask…
The HD quality imagery and sound mixing on Blu-ray is stupendous. The animated menu is good-looking too – capturing faces from the film in a rich, pop art style. The bonus material, however, is solid stuff. A cast and crew commentary track is informative and open about such matters as reshoots and test screenings and the half-hour doc on Thor and Loki delves into their sibling rivalry. The ‘gag reel’ is missing a vital component: humour. The best of the seven Deleted/Extended Scenes is Loki annoying Thor by transforming into various people (including Captain America). In the movie, Chris Evans made a brief appearance. Here, we get to see Hiddleston’s less buff frame in the Star-Spangled Man’s uniform. Fans will get a kick out of it.
The Marvel One-Shot short, All Hail the King, directed and written by Iron Man 3 co-scribe Drew Pearce, is the best of the bunch. Ben Kingsley returns as The Mandarin fraudster Trevor Slattery, now living in a maximum security prison and living off the scraps of celebrity. Kingsley is, once more with feeling, on top form. A featurette on Brian Tyler’s score and a preview of Captain America: The Winter Solider round things off nicely.
Extras: See above