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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

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. Well I liked them both, so where do I fit into this pattern? The Dark World is a good deal of fun but is ultimately a bit disposable. Chris Helmsworth has grown into the role comfortably and his scenes with Tom Hiddleston are great. The plot... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Scruffybobby at 10:27, 03 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Marvel at its worst

MAJOR SPOILER L: Citizen Dildo Anyone care to offer an explanation for Loki's revival? Just acted dead until back in Asgard, bit too easy wasn't it? POILERS My hope is that Loki really did die but the Collector gathered his essence and gave him the chance to live if Loki gave him the Aether/infinity stone. ... More

Posted by Helana at 09:39, 03 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. h dear, I'm gonna hate Thor 2 then. ... More

Posted by Deviation at 04:53, 03 November 2013 | Report This Post


It's okay. While occasionally fun with a fantastic cast, it tries much too hard for broad laughs to the point where it just gets silly, and I never felt Malekith was a genuine threat. It'll fill a couple of hours but there's nothing special about it. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Whistler at 19:29, 02 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Nailed it nicely.

Interesting question(s). Odin having foreknowledge of Thor's actions would fit with his mythological background, but then again in the Movies, he lost his eye in battle, rather than to gain occult knowledge. Loki's projections of himself seem to have substance when required, so he could conceivably have used an image of himself to fake his own death. That would make the scene where the Asgardian appears to have found him on the dark world have a point, so he can return to Asgard in disguise. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Belisarius0365 at 19:12, 02 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Nailed it nicely.

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 disguise. The only other o... More

Posted by BelfastBoy at 18:44, 02 November 2013 | Report This Post


Nailed it nicely.

Your review was right on the nose for this one, I loved every minute of it. I'm pretty sure that an extra few minutes of explanation as to how the universe went from darkness to 'light' wouldn't have taxed the writers, the effects team, or the audience, though. Also, I feel that the Jane/Sif thing might be a set up for the next instalment, rather than a plotline that went nowhere. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Belisarius0365 at 16:00, 02 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Thor: The Dark World

Saw this last night, and loved it. But then I've loved nearly all the Marvelverse films (only Iron Man 2 and The Incredible Hulk let me down). It's the most fun I've had since Iron Man 3. Surprisingly funny - but I foresee some confused tourists on the underground trying to get to Greenwich! ... More

Posted by kathryn2 at 13:09, 02 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Thor: The Dark World

I enjoyed this. Usual fun but formulaic Marvel stuff. Not their best nor their worst. I'd be curious to know if anyone else felt like Anthony Hopkins was barely conscious with his performance. It was like he was barely interested. Hemsworth and Hiddleston clearly treat it seriously and the film really shines when the pair of them are together. Selvig being treated like a basket case was hard to understand too. The guy played a key role in fighting off an alien invasion - you'd think h... More

Posted by olijoy at 09:24, 02 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Marvel at its worst

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. ... More

Posted by Vadersville at 22:41, 01 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Marvel at its worst

Hardly Marvel at its worst though (Original Captain America film, Nick Fury Agent of Shield aka Haselhoff etc.) ... More

Posted by sanchia at 19:45, 01 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Marvel at its worst

L: Hood_Man It was alright. ole thing felt like filler until the next Avengers movieh. That's pretty much all I can think to say really. It just wasn't eventful enough to really say much more about. t's EXACTLY that. They had no story to tell, but they still had to come up with a Thor movie until the next Avengers. I love superhero, sci-fi and fun action movies, but this one was pointless and plain generic. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dseys at 18:02, 01 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Marvel at its worst

L: Rgirvan44 SPOILERS Is Rene Russo the only "hero" to actually properly die in this eight part film series? t happens again I nominate the comedy sidekicks. ... More

Posted by Hood_Man at 17:16, 01 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Marvel at its worst

I found this to be quite a weak entry in the series. The tone never quite worked jumping between ruminations on consequences of war to Dr Selvig in his pants. Where Kat Dennings was quite charming in the first film, both she and O'Dowd were blatantly COMIC RELIEF here and didn't work for me. Also agree with Empire review that Malekith was just dull and under written. And the Sif subplot - don't understand why they didn't pursue that more. The post credits sting is utterly pointless,... More

Posted by Citizen Dildo at 17:10, 01 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Marvel at its worst

SPOILERS         Is Rene Russo the only "hero" to actually properly die in this eight part film series? ... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 16:53, 01 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Marvel at its worst

It was alright. The whole thing felt like filler until the next Avengers movie, though. That's pretty much all I can think to say really. It just wasn't eventful enough to really say much more about. ... More

Posted by Hood_Man at 16:50, 01 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Marvel at its worst

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 well executed and not o... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 16:46, 01 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Marvel at its worst

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 well executed and not over the top a... More

Posted by Beno at 16:00, 01 November 2013 | Report This Post


ENTERTAINING Stufff!!!

Another cracking instalment for the Marvel Superhero!! The mighty Thor returns in a thrilling, at times funny and epic sequel. We begin with the imprisonment of Loki and a balance restored to the universe of the nine realms,..until now. Most of the characters have returned Thor's love interest Jane Foster (a quirky Natalie Portman) together with her science crew finds a an inter dimensional anomaly and worse she get's infected by a world altering evil energy called the Aether. So it's up... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ramone87 at 15:41, 01 November 2013 | Report This Post


Marvel at its worst

Formulaic, bland, poor, lazy unambitious: this is Marvel at its worst. Avengers made me believe that Marvel had finally stepped out of their lazy, formated movies, Iron Man 3 somehow confirmed it... and this Thor sequel is just a terrible step back. There's barely a story (a stupid, cartoon-like one) and the action simply goes from a situation to another situation without taking any time to, you know, involve the viewers. Dramatic things happen, but we don't give a shit, a few seconds later the... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dseys at 15:19, 01 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Thor: The Dark World

Thought it was pretty decent, but (dare I say it?) I felt a slight tinge of Avenger related fatigue. This is after all, the character's third appearance in as many years. Still, it wasn't a bad trip to the flicks, although I'm not sure whether I'll pick it up on bluray later. Bottom line was that it wasn't quite as good as the first, but rates ***1/2 in my humble opinion. SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ... More

Posted by film man aidy at 09:57, 01 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Thor: The Dark World

I really enjoyed this film and agree with Empire that the fun is amplified whenever Thor and Loki share a scene together. Hemsworth and Hiddleston look to be having a blast and it certainly shines through. Loved the little comedic moments (especially that cameo I was slightly let down by the villain of the piece. It's a shame as Ecclestone is a great actor and I reckon he had the potential to be a fantastic character. However, I still thoroughly enjoyed Marvel's continuing Phase 2. 4/... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ref at 16:47, 31 October 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Great Fun

Yup that was Benicio as the old Avengers foe The Collector & that led nicely into a thread that could continue into the Avengers 2 The Infinity Gauntlet Thanos's favorite weapon of choice. ... More

Posted by Wild about Wilder at 14:52, 31 October 2013 | Report This Post


Good Fun!

The first 50 minutes or so is quite slow and does not progress that well, however, from there the comedy and action is well executed. But Malekith, is not developed and is reduced to a villain with no depth. Apart from that this is a good, fun movie! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Lol man at 13:29, 31 October 2013 | Report This Post


Good Fun!

The first 50 minutes or so is quite slow and does not progress that well, however, from there the comedy and action is well executed. But Malekith, is not developed and is reduced to a villain with no depth. Apart from that this is a good, fun movie! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Lol man at 13:29, 31 October 2013 | Report This Post


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