Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Trending On Empire
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer
The Farewell To Middle-earth Issue
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe: Get 12 Issues For £25
Buy the perfect Christmas present this year
Farewell To Middle-earth
Full details of our Peter Jackson-edited issue
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

Click poster to enlarge
More posters to select

Chris Hemsworth
Natalie Portman
Idris Elba
Anthony Hopkins
Tom Hiddleston
Christopher Eccleston
Zachary Levi
kat dennings.
Alan Taylor.
Christopher Yost
Christopher Markus
Stephen McFeely.
Running Time
112 minutes

Kingsman: The Secret Service
4 Star Empire Rating
2 Star Empire Rating
Theory Of Everything, The
4 Star Empire Rating
Bringing Tibet Home
3 Star Empire Rating
4 Star Empire Rating

5 Star Empire Rating
Le Jour Se Lève
5 Star Empire Rating
Tony Benn: Will And Testament
5 Star Empire Rating
5 Star Empire Rating
Babadook, The
5 Star Empire Rating

Thor: The Dark World
This time it’s war

submit to reddit

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.

Thor: The Dark World
Browse more images »

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.

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

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

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

RE: best of the marvels

Awesome entertainment. Loved the action and fx and also the fun performances. I thought the 3D was great too and really added a lot to the experience! I loved the sequence where Asgard is attached and when Thor has to escape. I also loved the finale, going through the different realms. Good superhero action. The humour worked well in this too. Highly recommended! ... More

Posted by DONOVAN KURTWOOD at 10:53, 06 November 2013 | Report This Post

RE: best of the marvels

sorry that should have been 4 stars... rubbish laptop ... More

Posted by findogask at 16:49, 05 November 2013 | Report This Post

best of the marvels

Thor & Iron man, my two favourites of the "wallet busting " franchise , however Iron man falls down whenever R.D. jnr is not onscreen (ok that's not much I admit) with Thor even the minor Characters are interesting, and they all seem to be having a great time , come on its a comic book movie not the national theatre , this makes a big difference , I always fealt the cast of the recent Superman looked like they were at work on a wet Monday morning. Thor has a good balance between t... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by findogask at 16:47, 05 November 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Thor: The Dark World

It’s been two years since the release of Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Marvel’s Thor, which for many was considered as one of the most outlandish superhero pitches and yet what Branagh bring was a clever fish-out-of-water comedy set amidst the epic fantasy evoking Norse mythology. Following his first outing with The Avengers, the God of Thunder makes his entry into Marvel’s Phase Two where everything goes bigger, if not necessarily better. When a supposed extinct race known as the Dark E... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by R W at 00:13, 05 November 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Marvel at its worst

L: Hood_Man L: clownfoot People hated Iron Man 3? The Shane Black directed Iron Man 3? ere you the Internet in May? ote] This is what happens when you have children and can never find the time to get to the cinema. By the time it gets released on DVD your six months behind everyone. I'm sure I'll get round to watching Thor 2 eventually as well... ... More

Posted by clownfoot at 23:58, 04 November 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Marvel at its worst

L: Hood_Man L: clownfoot People hated Iron Man 3? The Shane Black directed Iron Man 3? ere you the Internet in May? ote] I suspect this is where we see the disconnect between 'people' and 'people on internet film forums'. ... More

Posted by kathryn2 at 21:34, 04 November 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Marvel at its worst

L: clownfoot People hated Iron Man 3? The Shane Black directed Iron Man 3? ere you the Internet in May? ... More

Posted by Hood_Man at 21:24, 04 November 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Marvel at its worst

I liked chunks of it, what I disliked was the manner it appeared to be a finale with a film written around it rather than a film written to a finale. Anyway that is for another thread. ... More

Posted by sanchia at 21:17, 04 November 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Marvel at its worst

L: Deviation L: Vadersville I'm seeing a pattern here. It seems for the most part, those who liked Iron Man 3 hated Thor The Dark World, whereas those who saw Iron Man 3 for the steaming pile of fat turds that it was, like me, rightfully loved Thor 2. h dear, I'm gonna hate Thor 2 then. eople hated Iron Man 3? The Shane Black directed Iron Man 3? I loved that it had some concepts very similar to the wonderful Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, whilst doing a little more with the average su... More

Posted by clownfoot at 21:07, 04 November 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Marvel at its worst

Well went to see this bad boy last night and I thought it was...pretty alright!!!!! It wasn't as terrible as some people are making out and it certainly isn't as superb as some people are gallivanting about. Too me the whole film, was whilst very enjoyable and fun (surely that's what these films should be) it did feel a little disjointed in places which could be down to all the re-writes and changing of directors possibly. Remember that bit in the first Thor; when Loki has confronted ... More

Posted by waltham1979 at 17:30, 04 November 2013 | Report This Post

Enjoyed It

Enjoyed it - not as much as the first one or Iron Man 3 but it was funny and action packed enough. Eccleston and Portman are underused and the tone was a bit all over the place but it was a good cinema experience MCU ratings so far: 1. Iron Man 3 (5) 2. Avengers Assemble (4.5) 3. Iron Man (4.5) 4. Thor (4) 5. Thor: The Dark World (3.5) 6. Captain America: The First Avenger (3.5) 7. The Incredible Hulk (3) 8. Iron Man 2 (2.5) Personally can't wait for the next instal... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ChudMonkey at 17:29, 04 November 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Nailed it nicely.

L: BelfastBoy MAJOR ENDING SPOILERS - BEWARE! My big question is: when did Odin and Loki switch? Is it possible that, totally offscreen, Odin cooked up a deal with Loki as he knew that Thor would eventually make the choice to approach Loki as an ally? So, pretty much all the Loki / Thor scenes are actually Odin / Thor scenes, with Thor manipulated by both father and brother? Someone died on the Dark World, and I can only make sense of it if it's actually Odin in dis... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by FoximusPrime at 14:26, 04 November 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Marvel at its worst

I have not mentioned any names nor have i hinted at anyone on these forums as guilty of my opinions. ... More

Posted by Beno at 14:21, 04 November 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Marvel at its worst

L: Beno Other folk seem to rip this genre of movie apart for not having enough gravitas, poignancy or flipping meaning. Thats just daft! Nothing serious here! Its not perfect but its fun and some dont get that. Im a 50 year old geek who has loved the world of Marvel and DC since the early 70s and i feel protective of these movies - sue me! o you enjoyed it? Good for you. I'm susceptible to superhero films, comic book adaptations and a bit of fun...and I thought it was dull... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 14:14, 04 November 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Marvel at its worst

L: Vadersville I'm seeing a pattern here. It seems for the most part, those who liked Iron Man 3 hated Thor The Dark World, whereas those who saw Iron Man 3 for the steaming pile of fat turds that it was, like me, rightfully loved Thor 2. liked both! MY GOD, I'M UNIQUE! ... More

Posted by Timon at 14:11, 04 November 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Marvel at its worst

L: Rgirvan44 L: Beno A movie such as this should be judged on what it actually is. Im sure some folk go to see something that is obviously 'popcorn blockbuster fayre' just so they can have a dig about how 'uninspiring' it was. Thor The Dark World is fun plain and simple which falls short of the first Thor in my humble opinion but not by much. The humour is spot on and not over done or misplaced...... one funniest bit for me being the Stan Lee cameo. The action and effects were w... More

Posted by Beno at 14:09, 04 November 2013 | Report This Post

RE: pretty good superhero movie

L: Deviation Not a good excuse for poorness though. xactly. Using this argument as a line of defence for the mediocre is actually an insult to the superhero films that work & it degrades the genre in a kind of self-defeating way. ... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 13:55, 04 November 2013 | Report This Post

RE: pretty good superhero movie

L: bretty Mixed reviews but I enjoyed it. superhero movie for Goodness sakes delivered with a calm confidence and strong cast. Okay the evil weirdness and alignment of worlds was a but incomprehensible, but it still delivered well. ot a good excuse for poorness though. ... More

Posted by Deviation at 23:35, 03 November 2013 | Report This Post

pretty good superhero movie

Mixed reviews but I enjoyed it. It's a superhero movie for Goodness sake and was delivered with a calm confidence and strong cast. Okay the evil weirdness and alignment of worlds was a but incomprehensible, but it still delivered well. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bretty at 21:55, 03 November 2013 | Report This Post

RE: They've gone and wasted it

Quite poor to be honest (and this is coming from someone who really enjoyed the first one). Rather than telling a story that needed to be told or being a film that makes any sense, k Worlds to be a checklist of audience and studio appeasement; Hemsworth gets his top off in a very brief scene that can only exist to please his many admirers. The earth action takes place in England, with no satisfactory indication as to why (presumably for tax relief purposes). Loki schemes away despite bein... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 18:52, 03 November 2013 | Report This Post


What a poor film. It's 100 minutes of lame exposition and awful patter (mainly because of Portman's awful sidekick having her role beefed-up). What on earth is the Macguffin about?? It's up there (or down there) as being as bad as that Matrix key thing from Transformers 2. Woeful. The "plot" is non-sensical. All the characters seem to make decisions and so haphazardly. Uninteresting badguys. Honestly, if it wasn't for Hiddlestone and Hemsworth, this would be one-star stuff. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 18:22, 03 November 2013 | Report This Post

They've gone and wasted it

I loved the first Thor movie, even more than I did the Avengers. So I was waiting for this with baited breath. It was a wasted wait. Wanna know just some of the problems with this movie? Here goes :- 1. A dreadful Frankenstein's monster of a story and script, patched together from God knows how many rewrites. The whole thing is just a mess chucked up on the screen to dazzle 12 year olds for 2 hours. 2. Loki is so terribly underused and for the second part of the movie behaves in a way that... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Azzurro06 at 16:40, 03 November 2013 | Report This Post

Marvel at it's worst? No..

Saw this last night with my nephew-(who really enjoyed Iron man 3 & this by the way) & really enjoyed it-if I want high drama I'll go the theatre to see Chekov-the plot is set up perfectly in the first 10 minutes-yes, Malekith is one dimensional but this is the plot point that threads Thor & Loki together-(& judging by the Comic-con footage we are all Hiddlestoners) The sting at the end is perfect with Thor & Odin-(or (spoiler) is it?) and the only time the film drags is when... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by themanfromunkle at 11:14, 03 November 2013 | Report This Post

Marvel at it's worst? No..

Took a while but at last we have a summer blockbuster that is half way decent-was it me or was the summer a constant steam of non-events because there were no Marvel films? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by themanfromunkle at 11:14, 03 November 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Marvel at its worst

L: Scruffybobby The plot and the villain though are a bit pedestrian and underwhelming, perhaps there's some deleted scenes that will bolster them up a bit. here certainly will be - they said so at one of the press conferences. Ultimately they felt like they needed more Loki - and bearing in mind that, although Hiddleston steals every scene he's in, he doesn't get i]much screentime, I'm sure they were right about that. It meant some Malekith stuff had to be cut. The p... More

Posted by kathryn2 at 11:03, 03 November 2013 | Report This Post

Previous pageMore user comments


Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you

Empire's Mad Max: Fury Road Cover Arrives
Tom Hardy leads our 2015 preview issue

The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The biggest, best, brightest and sometimes weirdest films of the coming year

James Cameron Talks Tech, Terminators and Avatar Sequels
An extended version of our interview from our Peter Jackson guest-edited issue

Empire's Three Favourite Scenes Of 2014
A hat-trick of moneyshots from the last 12 months

The 32 Funniest Movie Moments Of The Year
2014's side-splittingest scenes

The 10 Best Games Of The Year
2014's top pixel-pushers duke it out for the number one slot

Dan Stevens: The Breakout Star Of 2014
We congratulate The Guest star on his year to remember

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)