Thor: The Dark World
In a flashback sequence that opens the Marvel brand’s latest superhero sequel, we discover how Thor’s grandfather, Bor, previously conquered the enemy whose quest for revenge will propel The Dark World’s narrative. In an unfortunate coincidence, a good portion of the film that follows can be described with a word that sounds exactly like that ancestor’s name.
Cribbing from many a fantasy and sci-fi blockbuster, and lacking much of a distinct stylistic voice behind the camera, most of the film’s first half is an unsuccessful attempt to gel solemn silliness (surrounding Christopher Eccleston’s non-entity of an antagonist, Malekith of the Dark Elves) and weak comedic subplots with the Earth-bound characters; to the joy of no-one, Kat Dennings’ annoying intern gets her own annoying intern. Things finally pick up when, following an assault on Thor’s home of Asgard, wildcard scene-stealer Loki (Hiddleston) finally gets released from the prison he’s been kept in since the events of Avengers Assemble, and is reluctantly enlisted by brother Thor to help take down a threat that seeks to destroy all.
The film comes alive in its second hour with the pairing of its two most charismatic players, becoming both funny (finally) and relatively enthralling, nailing a light tone that’s pleasantly reminiscent of classic Star Wars. It’s often still as derivative as what precedes it, and the choppy seams of the film remain all too visible, but the character interactions go a long way and the final set-piece does have one interesting visual conceit involving wormholes and location-swapping. The sum of these entertaining stretches tilts the balance in its favour, though The Dark World is still a considerably unbalanced feature overall, and thriving for the sort of consistent personality Shane Black brought to Iron Man 3.