Wednesday 19 March 2014

Thor: The Dark World

When “Phase One” of Marvel's plan to bring a whole slew of superheroes to the big screen started with Iron Man in 2008, a film that is almost top of its genre, what followed were more big screen adaptations of other Marvel heroes. From Captain America, The Incredible Hulk to Thor, Marvel took their time and eventually built up to the mesmerizing climax that was The Avengers; a film that brought together all the major heroes in one action packed showcase of epicness. But in the wake of The Avengers, “Phase Two” has begun, and it has been kicked off with Thor: The Dark World.

Thor: The Dark World is very much a film that takes place in a post-Avengers world; Loki is a prisoner of Asgard due to the havoc he unleashed on the humans through his deadly Chitauri army, while the peoples of Earth suddenly realise that they are not alone any more. However, the real meat of The Dark World recalls another troubled time, far back beyond the incident that rocked New York City in The Avengers. The incident that ultimately kicks off The Dark World is an ancient rivalry between Bor, grandfather of Thor, and Malekith, a Dark Elf of Svartalfheim. Malekith sought a weapon known as the Aether, a weapon so powerful that he intended to destroy the universe with it. Though his efforts were halted by Bor, Malekith awakens once more to obtain the Aether and fulfil his wish of the complete annihilation of the known universe. However, there's a certain Norse God that isn't going to make it easy for him.

Though the first Thor film was fantastic, The Dark World betters it in almost every way. The first improvement is the extra level of world building achieved here, particularly in the realm of Asgard. From the hulking CGI troll-like creatures that go up against Thor, the Dark Evles themselves who are helmed by Malekith, played wonderfully by Christopher Eccelston, to the various locations in Asgard, The Dark World expands the Marvel universe into new and interesting territory. This extra layer of atmosphere is superb as lets be honest; the best parts of the first film all took place in Asgard, right?

Overall the performances are perfectly suitable for a Marvel film, even though Thor very rarely changes his expression (you know the Thor look, that look on his face as if he's just sucked on a lemon), but it's acceptable because all he really needs to do is kick ass. And he does kick ass, quite a bit actually. The action in The Dark World is top notch, and though it doesn't reach the electrifying heights of The Avengers, it still delivers the goods, and ends with a one-on-one fight that will be hard to top. Despite his constant angry looking mug, Chris Hemsworth is noticeably more comfortable in the role of Thor. After proving his casting for the role twice before, in The Dark World he comes across more confident, and at times the perfect embodiment of what a live-action Thor should be, a presence that's a mixture of muscle, gravitas and wit. Of course, once again this is only helped along by his superb rivalry with his Frost Giant brother Loki, who despite being a prisoner early into the film becomes one of its key players later on.

Blu-Ray extras: Bundled along with Thor: The Dark World, the excellent Blu-Ray edition contains some extra goodies that help improve the appreciation for the film itself. Apart from the film the Blu-Ray also contains the following:

Commentary: Though commentary by a director of a film is a given, the real joy here is the fact that Tom Hiddleston aka Loki takes part too. His insights are genuinely interesting as he also comes across as a gushing Marvel nerd.

Marvel One Shot “Hail to the King”: This short film focuses on Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley) from Iron Man 3, and his life in prison after impersonating The Mandarin. The less said about it the better, as there are a few surprises that I'd hate to ruin. Needless to say, it's a genuinely hilarious insight into the life of Trevor, a character who was almost the best aspect of Iron Man 3.

A Brothers Journey - Thor & Loki: This 30 minute documentary takes the viewer through production of Thor: The Dark World, including various interviews with the cast and crew. It's a typical addition to any self respecting Blu-Ray, but nonetheless interesting.

Misc: Though small additions, other extras include extended scenes, deleted scenes, a gag reel and a look at the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Overall Thor: The Dark World is a superb start to Phase Two of Marvel's master plan. It takes chances, builds up the beautiful world of Asgard quite nicely and its mid-credits scene hints at where The Avengers: The Age of Ultron will take us. Exciting stuff!

Thor: The Dark World brings the hammer down on the critics and gets a 4/5, []

Denis Murphy

Thor: The Dark World at CeX

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