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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
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POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Chris Hemsworth
Natalie Portman
Idris Elba
Anthony Hopkins
Tom Hiddleston
Christopher Eccleston
Zachary Levi
kat dennings.
Directors
Alan Taylor.
Screenwriters
Christopher Yost
Christopher Markus
Stephen McFeely.
Running Time
112 minutes

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Thor: The Dark World
This time it’s war


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Plot
Bifrost repaired and Loki imprisoned after the events of Avengers Assemble, Thor has restored peace to the Nine Realms. But it won’t last long; just around the corner lurks the Aether, an all-powerful energy that brings Thor’s great love, Jane Foster, to Asgard, and the Dark Elves, a race that will stop at nothing to get their hands on it and usher the universe into a new realm of darkness.


Review
Thor: The Dark World
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Fans of post-credits stings rejoice. For Thor: The Dark World boasts not one, not three, but two of the suckers, with one coming right at the end, so you even have time to nip out for a loo break before rushing back to catch it.

However, we don’t recommend that you show up right at the end. Come for the stings, stick around for the previous 100 minutes of people talking and fighting and whatnot, and you’ll be rewarded with a thrilling, and often surprisingly funny, reminder that, following Avengers Assemble and Iron Man 3, nobody is better than Marvel at this blockbuster business right now. Acutely aware of the dangers of audience fatigue — case in point: The Dark World is Thor’s third big-screen appearance in as many years — Kevin Feige, who produces all the studio’s films, appears determined never to make the same film twice.

So, where Kenneth Branagh’s introduction to Thor was a charming, cheesy, even campy fish-out-of-water comedy, Alan Taylor’s The Dark World is — tonally, visually, thematically — a different kettle of bilgesnipe, on a much bigger scale than the relatively low-key first instalment. At times it even feels like a sci-fi war movie. The one thing it doesn’t feel like, even though its lead character can fly and is virtually indestructible, is a superhero movie.

It also feels very different from last year’s Avengers Assemble, even though there are occasional callbacks to that movie, including a lovely riff on the shawarma scene and a nice cameo from... well, we won’t say. First and foremost, though, this is laid out as a sequel to Thor. Structurally, it begins in the same way, with a slightly clunky prologue — complete with portentous voice-over from Anthony Hopkins as Odin exposition — that sets up both the film’s main villains, the Dark Elves, and the Aether, an all-powerful source of dark matter that might as well be called the MacGuffin.

From there, though, it hits the ground running, deftly reintroducing the key players, from Odin to Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, bound for the dungeons after that kerfuffle in New York, and Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster, now living in London and going on an extremely awkward blind date with a potential new boyfriend (a fun cameo from Chris O’Dowd), who doesn’t stand a chance of living up to her previous boyfriend, the God Of Thunder.

Which brings us neatly to the main man. For the most part, Marvel has an uncanny knack for casting just the right person to make their comic book characters flesh. In the wrong hands, Thor could have been an utterly ridiculous character — an abbed-up demigod who looks like he’s on a gap year just finding himself, man, and who speaks with a Ye Olde English twang. And yet Chris Hemsworth managed to make it work from the get-go, bringing charm and power to the role. Getting back on the Norse here, the Australian actor comports himself with admirable ease, handling the comedic and dramatic aspects equally adroitly, as a rapidly maturing Thor is forced to rebel against his stubborn father in order to save Asgard (and the rest of the Nine Realms). The day Hemsworth puts the hammer down will be a shame.

Likewise, Hiddleston and Loki. The English actor is simply indelible in the role now, as adept at a devilish one-liner (“It’s not that I don’t enjoy our little chats,” he tells Odin. “It’s just... that I don’t”) as he is at suggesting the layers of pain and regret that lurk beneath Loki’s preening, prideful surface.

Given his increased status, it must have been tempting for Feige, Alan Taylor and writers Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely to simply bump up Hiddleston’s screen time and make this the Thor And Loki Show. Yet, for the first hour or so, Loki is kept largely in the background, locked away in his super-hi-tech jail cell, disconnected from the larger story. He doesn’t even share a scene with Thor until roughly an hour in. It’s only when events spiral out of control, and Thor, backed into a corner, turns to his brother for help, that we get that Thor And Loki Show. And their time together is worth the wait, whether they’re bickering over the controls of a spacecraft or, in one more serious showdown, unleashing thousands of years of pent-up hurt and rage. The treatment of Loki here is akin to that of Magneto in X-Men 2; he’s still a villain, constantly mocking and taunting his older brother, yet an ambiguous one, and there’s a fair bit of dramatic potential in his inner conflict.

Which leaves it to Christopher Eccleston as Malekith, the leader of the Dark Elves, to fill the Loki-shaped hole. The Dark Elves, and their groovy spacecraft, are visually striking, and they’re positioned almost as an Al-Qaeda-type force, a race of fundamentalist warriors whose commitment to their cause is so great that they’ll die for it (the prologue sees Malekith ordering, effectively, mass suicide bombings), but Malekith himself is ultimately a rather bland, generic villain, with Eccleston reduced to growling guttural threats in a made-up language for much of the movie.

That said, the final showdown between Thor and Malekith is gloriously entertaining. Yes, it’s set in a city (London, with the ever-telegenic Greenwich coming to the fore again), and yes, it features two powerful foes knocking seven shades out of each other, but this isn’t the city-smashing snoozefest that mired Man Of Steel’s climax; instead, it’s tricksy and inventive, constantly wrong-footing not just the audience but its combatants to great, and often genuinely hilarious, effect. For a movie that has dark in its title, and which is — yes! — darker (people die, Asgard is grimier, as befitting Alan Taylor’s Game Of Thrones heritage), Thor 2.0 is consistently amusing, and the three biggest laughs in the movie all come during this sequence — a bold gamble when, ostensibly, the fate of the universe itself is at stake.

There are flaws. There are always flaws. There are signs that the story may, at one point, have been in flux (a potential love triangle between Thor, Jane and Sif goes nowhere, for example) and it’s also packed with a Smegload of fridge moments, those pesky plot-holes that will keep you awake at 3am, while its grasp on science (or, as Thor would have it, magic) is fairly flimsy, with respected actors spouting nonsense about gravitons and wibblyflibs like they’re in a 1950s B-movie. We’re no Prof. Brian Cox, but it’s almost certain to take this year’s Bad Movie Science award.

But the whole thing clips along at such a brisk rate — at just over 100 minutes (not including credits, or post-credit stings, or post-post-credits stings) it wraps up when most blockbusters are grinding their gears — and is so entertaining that it doesn’t seem to matter. Now that’s magic-science.


Verdict
As confident and assured as its lead character, Marvel’s great run continues. We give this Thor out of Thive. (Sorry.)


Reviewed by Chris Hewitt

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Thor: The Dark World
Empire Star Rating

THOR

its proper clever how that that chic that plays Loki manages to pull off playing a dude because she is rad fit in real life. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by RLTShirley at 12:16, 28 April 2014 | Report This Post


very meh

at end face was like all screwed up and me said "what was the point?". chick was like "first one was better". And I was like "what was the message? Bad guy wants to destroy universe, but Thor will save the day....and that's it?" Kudos to guy who said it has the plot of a cartoon episode. disappointingly Thor 2 is a bit shit really. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ryan_D_Bell at 22:52, 03 March 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Why the dig at Man of Steel?

A much better film than its 2011 predecessor, embracing its fantasy roots with exciting, entertaining results.he Dark World ... More

Posted by chang at 10:20, 28 December 2013 | Report This Post


RE:

The second post-Avengers solo outing for the Marvel Cinematic Universe sees the titular hammer-swinging Asgardian facing the threat of the age-old Dark Elves. As 2009′s Kenneth Branagh-directed Thor was my favourite stand-alone Marvel film, my anticipation for its follow-up was high. Thankfully I wasn’t disappointed. Whereas Thor: The Dark World may lack the breeziness and simplicity of the original, it makes up for it with more depth of story and epic scale. After a snappy prologue ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Biggus at 22:48, 15 December 2013 | Report This Post


What where they thinking? Horrible story that makes no sense. The characters act like 12yearolds. At times it looks like symply interesting scenes that don't connect are put together. :P I couldn't wait for it to end. Loki is the real God here. Thor is just a pawn. We want a Loki movie!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by smakris04 at 20:32, 06 December 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Thor: The Dark World

Just saw it as part one of a triple-bill catch-up today along with Gravity and Captain Phillips. I enjoyed it. I liked the greyness of the London setting, revived a life-time crush on Natalie Portman who I thought was really invested in it contrary to the general comment trail. Ecclestone was muted but looked the part carrying a pretty groovy villain aesthetic. Hiddleston is the reason why I go back to the Marvel movies despite feeling very "take it or leave it" about superheroes in general... More

Posted by demoncleaner at 15:39, 19 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Thor: The Dark World

I thought this was a tremendously fun time. Great characters, design, set pieces, humour and a fun script raise this above other comic book movies from this year that lacked any of that stuff (coughmanofsteelcough). Sure some of the science doesn't make sense, but seriously, who goes to see a movie about a god with a huge hammer and multiple worlds and expects it to be scientifically accurate? The villains were fine, Provided a nice base for the more important story and character stuff with Tho... More

Posted by Coyleone at 13:12, 15 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Thor: The Dark World

L: Qwerty Norris L: kathryn2 I don't know the comics - is there a Thor-Loki buddy story in them? don't know either. Does it matter though? I guess it might to the sensitive souls who read the comics or hated that glorious twist in Iron Man 3, but faithfulness doesn't guarantee a successful or better adaptation. just think we're more likely to see that dynamic if it's part of an existing story arc - I get the impression that Marvel are keen to adapt/play with existin... More

Posted by kathryn2 at 10:44, 15 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Thor: The Dark World

L: Qwerty Norris L: musht I think Marvel showed a huge amount of restraint to not do a buddy movie. I think if they had gone with that movie however they would have been accused of resting on their laurels. Everyone knows the Thor/Loki relationship is the strength of the Thor franchise, personally, I'd hate to see that muscle over worked. can't agree with that to be be honest. There's numerous examples in the Dark World to suggest they are resting on their laurels as ... More

Posted by musht at 18:31, 14 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Thor: The Dark World

Like the first one thoroughly entertaining albeit with a few problems here and there. I'm suprised at people who liked the first not liking this TBH and the humour is pretty much in keeping with Thor and Avengers so don't really get the complaints there either. 3 1/2 maybe 4 stars at a push. Great leads in Hemsworth and Hiddleston who really lift the film whenever they are on screen, great action and a terrific ending. ... More

Posted by Dirk Miggler at 16:51, 14 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Thor: The Dark World

L: musht I think Marvel showed a huge amount of restraint to not do a buddy movie. I think if they had gone with that movie however they would have been accused of resting on their laurels. Everyone knows the Thor/Loki relationship is the strength of the Thor franchise, personally, I'd hate to see that muscle over worked. can't agree with that to be be honest. There's numerous examples in the Dark World to suggest they are resting on their laurels as it is. L: kathryn2... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 15:17, 14 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Thor: The Dark World

L: musht L: Qwerty Norris For me, the reason the film fails is that it has this brilliant and entertaining dynamic between Thor & Loki - and then chooses not to use it (how long do they share the screen together? 10 minutes? 15 at a push?). The closing moments of ngers e trailer for k World t that we were on the cusp of a sort of buddy / road movie with these two. That would have been great! think Marvel showed a huge amount of restraint to not do a buddy movie. I... More

Posted by kathryn2 at 14:20, 14 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: And furthermore...

L: ericcoyle In response to the previous post, please don't use the term "you didn't get it", which implies you have a superior intelligence or some such twaddle. I completely understand why the realm jumping was going on but in actuality this has nothing to do with the overall plot of the film (elves are nasty and must be stopped). It is just there so that wacky special effects can ensue. It also has nothing to do with the problems with the film, which chiefly lie with an obvious over... More

Posted by kathryn2 at 14:14, 14 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Thor: The Dark World

L: Qwerty Norris For me, the reason the film fails is that it has this brilliant and entertaining dynamic between Thor & Loki - and then chooses not to use it (how long do they share the screen together? 10 minutes? 15 at a push?). The closing moments of ngers e trailer for k World t that we were on the cusp of a sort of buddy / road movie with these two. That would have been great! think Marvel showed a huge amount of restraint to not do a buddy movie. I think if they had... More

Posted by musht at 13:01, 14 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Thor: The Dark World

For me, the reason the film fails is that it has this brilliant and entertaining dynamic between Thor & Loki - and then chooses not to use it (how long do they share the screen together? 10 minutes? 15 at a push?). The closing moments of ngers e trailer for k World t that we were on the cusp of a sort of buddy / road movie with these two. That would have been great! But what do we get instead? A rambling plot, a bland antagonist, scenes in London that are tonally all over the place ... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 12:09, 14 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Thor: The Dark World

Have to say I enjoyed it. There were problems with the antagonists for sure and perhaps it's a bit bloated, but I can't say I regret spending money on it. ... More

Posted by Filmfan 2 at 10:51, 14 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Thor: The Dark World

I agree that the villain was pure and Ecclestone (why they needed to change his voice is a mystery) was criminally underused but it didn't stop me from the enjoying the hell out of this. I can understand people's complaints that this was just filler and trailer for the next Avengers but I personally don't see that as a bad. I love that these films are smaller parts of a much larger universe, yes there are hints of that Universe but I've never felt that they don't stand up on their own. Marvel h... More

Posted by musht at 22:54, 11 November 2013 | Report This Post


And furthermore...

In response to the previous post, please don't use the term "you didn't get it", which implies you have a superior intelligence or some such twaddle. I completely understand why the realm jumping was going on but in actuality this has nothing to do with the overall plot of the film (elves are nasty and must be stopped). It is just there so that wacky special effects can ensue. It also has nothing to do with the problems with the film, which chiefly lie with an obvious over-used concept... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ericcoyle at 16:28, 11 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Better than the first one but...

L: ericcoyle Certainly a big improvement on the abysmal first one but still not all it should have been. The plot was a red herring. Why not just have a war between the Asgardians and elves? The villain was pointless and the elves themselves made no sense. They could fight their way into Asgard but couldn't catch one human scientist and her ditsy sidekick "comedy relief"? They looked like exactly what they were, a bunch of stuntmen in costumes running around London in a rather aimless ... More

Posted by kathryn2 at 10:42, 10 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Great Thun Thor All.

Saw it tonight and thought it was decent throwaway fun.Great fx and action as you would expect from an MCU flick but i thought the main villain didnt make much of an impression and didnt come across as very threatening ( unlike his bad ass henchman! ). The humour was a bit OTT this time compared to the last movie,( especially when that annoying wanker Chris O Dowd made his cameo ) and Sif is badly underused ( We see her about to make a stand against Asgardian soldiers in order to help Thor... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cool Breeze at 01:17, 10 November 2013 | Report This Post


Great Thun Thor All.

By the gods this made the first film look like a bad and insulting joke, clearly the best thing that could ever have happened to the franchise was to get rid of whatever blundering fool directed the first entry (Yes, I do know who it was, and he should be ashamed of himself). I have to say this was easily the most fun I've had watching a superhero movie since the Avengers, a feeling especially highlighted by memories of the perplexingly underwhelming Iron Man 3 and the drudgery of Man of Ste... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Oroborous at 13:08, 09 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: ODIN'S BEARD!!!

I enjoyed it. That said there definitely was some evident flaws, one being Christopher Ecclestone dialing in his performance which detracted from any sense of threat his particular character had. Quite a few things didn't really make sense and at one point I am certain Hemsworth drifted into a cod Scottish accent for at least one sentence (although I was distracted at that moment) and Natalie Portman didn't really perform anywhere near her best. Zachary Levi being recast as Fandral didn't wo... More

Posted by sanchia at 07:57, 09 November 2013 | Report This Post


ODIN'S BEARD!!!

Is it the perfect superhero movie? Nope. At times it did feel like we were watching some glossy new Star Wars film. Does it entertain? Ultimately yes, thanks mainly to the excellent Hemsworth/ Hiddlestone double act, nifty SFX, some big crowd pleasing set pieces and a barnstorming incident packed final 20 minutes .You always get the sense that Thor the Dark World was conceived as a far more sombre affair in it’s original form but once the script had been revised and put through the Marvel ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ROTGUT at 17:08, 08 November 2013 | Report This Post


Better than the first one but...

Certainly a big improvement on the abysmal first one but still not all it should have been. The plot was a red herring. Why not just have a war between the Asgardians and elves? The villain was pointless and the elves themselves made no sense. They could fight their way into Asgard but couldn't catch one human scientist and her ditsy sidekick "comedy relief"? They looked like exactly what they were, a bunch of stuntmen in costumes running around London in a rather aimless way. The edit... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ericcoyle at 16:29, 08 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: best of the marvels

Eons ago, Bor, father of Odin, vanquished the Dark Elves led by Malekith, who sought to return the universe to its state before creation using a force called the Aether, and contained the Aether, which cannot be destroyed, within a stone column. Unbeknownst to him, Malekith and others escaped into suspended animation. In the present, in Asgard, Loki is sentenced to imprisonment, while Thor helps win the final battle in a two-year war to make peace in the Nine Realms. In London, astrophysicist J... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 09:47, 07 November 2013 | Report This Post


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