The Marvel hero returns!
The God of thunder and heir of Asgard himself, Thor, wields his hammer once more as the follow-up to his opener Thor becomes the second chapter in Marvel’s phase two era of their diverse and successful cinematic Universe. Following his exploits in Avengers Assemble, the blonde haired hero has been by far the most extravagant and hardest to incorporate in a cinematic sense in comparison, travelling the stars and heavenly realms while his Marvel team mates roam around the world. But an all returning cast, vast array of design and a playful panto villain has added a return to the realm of Asgard all the more enjoyable.
Peace is in sight, Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth) and his army have rid evil from each of the nine realms once and for all. But before celebrations can begin, love interest Jane Foster (played by Natalie Portman) discovers a dark power from Asgard’s past that awakens an ancient foe in the form of Malekith (played by Christopher Eccleston), bringing his army of dark elves back from exile. Looking to bring destruction to Thor’s home, he must use those around him to defeat Malekith, with the outside possibility of receiving assistance from his evil half-brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston).
Whilst the first movie was enjoyable, action packed and had the signature Marvel comedy touches, it did feel in some ways like an elaborate pantomime, especially with heightened design, both in a fun and negative way. In this case, the comic book aesthetic, over the top sets and costumes remain but never in a ridiculous way, miraculously the film never builds on the design of Thor’s world which works to its advantage. In some instances, it nods towards a Man Of Steel feel with on one hand the familiarity and surroundings of towns and cities, mirrored against the baron landscapes and flamboyantly crafted architecture.
In terms of the story, with Thor having endless amounts of places and names to keep up with, the film makers have kept the story to a basic minimum which in other cases may not have worked. You understand each characters motivations and what they set out to do, whether it be for good or evil. Never at any point does the film lose you, it paces along nicely with the comedy touches beautifully placed into that basic narrative. Despite that, it doesn’t bring anything new to the table in terms of twists or surprises, it does the job but does the job whilst it’s travelling vast galaxies and explaining gravitation devices.
With one or two fantastic cameos, and new characters that don’t quite feel settled, hanging on around the edges, it’s that core ensemble that builds on the events of previous films and take us for a ride. Chris Hemsworth makes it impossible to both movie goers and comic book fans to imagine anyone else as Thor, just as Robert Downey Jr. IS Iron Man. He’s clearly having a blast playing the all-conquering hero, in knowing how to take the story into time of seriousness or comedy, while Natalie Portman ditches the inquisitive character from the previous movie and she gets to fully inhabit this mythic world as the .
Idris Elba never fails to deliver, the gatekeeper of Asgard who means business, even when wearing a crazy horned helmet. Christopher Eccleston is terrific as this terrifying elven villain which is completely unlike anything we’ve seen him do, menacing throughout. But the real star, yet again, is Tom Hiddleston as Loki. He stole the spotlight off six superheroes in Avengers Assemble to become the best thing in it, and here he plays a more subdued, a more broken Loki, like a villain taken down a peg. But each minute he’s on-screen makes you remember just how his character is immediately watchable, and showing a crucial example of how a great villain is just as important to a movie as the good guys.
It’s brilliantly paced, doesn’t lose its audience with its elaborate comic book sensibility and proves that Marvel once again know how to balance fan expectation with creating a movie that works for all. And may their great run continue.