Thor: The Dark World
Direction: Alan Taylor
Actors: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman
Rating: *** 1/2
In the Marvel movie-verse, it is hammer time again. In other words, the comic-book icon is once more called on to save the cosmos from the forces of darkness. In the aftermath of his introductory big-screen adventure (Thor, 2011) and the subsequent superhero smack-down (Avengers Assemble, 2012), the titular thunder god (Hemsworth, one of the few charismatic actors of the current generation) embarks on his most perilous mission yet.
A terrifying new foe led by an accursed warrior (Christopher Eccleston) is determined to wreak vengeance on the protagonist’s heavenly abode. Reunited with his earth-bound love interest (Portman) and forging a tenuous alliance with his antagonistic adoptive brother (Tom Hiddleston), Thor strives to stave off a trans-dimensional Armageddon.
Taking over the reins from Kenneth Branagh who helmed the first stand-alone film, incoming director Alan Taylor whose experience includes several episodes of the TV show, Game of Thrones, cannily blends mythic drama with human emotion.
The smash-happy action is complemented by wondrous visuals and techno-chic production values. The climactic London-set battle royale, with Thor’s magic mallet ever primed for slinging, holds the viewer in a vice-like grip.
To his credit, Taylor also injects a large dose of humour into the proceedings. Besides spirited supporting performances by old timers Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo as Thor’s parental deities, there are a couple of obligatory post-credits surprises (no, we’re not revealing them, so do stick around till the very end).
A $200 million-plus son-et-lumiere spectacle, Thor is recommended for those with a taste for a decidedly funny fantasy.