Marvel’s Phase Two continues as Thor returns to Earth and the silver screen with a mighty wield of his hammer. When Heimdal (Idris Elba) loses sight of Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), it’s time for Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to return to Earth to find her. Infected by the aether – an ancient force that was once used by the Dark Elves, led by Malekith (Christopher Ecclestone), to bring darkness to the nine realms, he awakens once again to have his revenge.
After an attack on Asgard it is up to Thor and his friends to take matters into their own hands and defy the all-father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). But such treason cannot be done alone and so Thor must turn to his brother Loki (Tom Hiddlestone) who has been imprisoned in the dungeons for his villainous attempt to rule Earth.
There is an awful lot going on but the film continues at a mighty pace, which serves it well. As the title suggests, this sequel is rather darker in nature than its predecessor but still manages to inject a spell of comedy, especially through Loki – although his biggest laugh could be put down to the awesome cameo that will remain under wraps. (And no, I’m not referring to the actual appearance of Great Odin’s Raven!)
With the story following many of the same beats as other Marvel movies before it, it is set apart by creating it’s own tone. In fact it appears each Marvel movie seems likely to be going down a different route to keep them fresh and interesting. Attached was the trailer for the Captain America sequel which is looking like an espionage thriller, whilst Thor maintains it’s sci-fi come war epic.
Much like Avengers and Man of Steel, the big finale is another destruction of a city, this time we focus on Greenwich, London. This seems to have become the norm for blockbusters, although Thor 2 does inject an element of difference by jumping between other realms. Indeed the fantastical does reign complete here, the dimensional shifts and what Asgardians describe as “magic” is not really explained in Earth science this time. We are expected to suspend our disbelief even further now, but this doesn’t really distract from the enjoyment.
One other niggle of being set in another realm is the mythical setting. Whilst Asgard glistens, when the Dark Elves attack and even during Thor’s daring escape it does feel extremely CGI heavy. Flashes of Episode 1’s Pod-Race did spring to mind during this – but they were very short lived. This is to be expected in this modern era of movie-making and it certainly isn’t a poor job done on the design, just something that we may become overly aware of during viewing.
Standing out brighter than any star in the nine realms however is Hiddlestone as Loki. It is almost impossible to imagine this without him but if early drafts are to be believed, the original story saw a lot less of our leading villain. Thankfully we are blessed with just the right amount of Loki, his snide comments, wicked charm and deeply tortured soul. Marvel does do a fine job at casting, Hemsworth also continues to shine as Thor, now a little more accustomed to life on Earth.
It is Ecclestone who has the hardest job, with most of his lines spoken in gibberish Elvish and behind a whacking lot of make up. Through the grunts he manages to stand out but the role is really rather limited for being the main villain. Instead our conflict all comes from Thor and Loki – this is not a bad thing.
As Phase Two continues there are threads slowly being sewn for Phase Three which is shaping up to be a far more sci-fi and fantasy than what has come before. The Guardians of the Galaxy are teased in the mid-credits sting and Edgar Wright is busy planning Ant Man. The Avengers are taking a back seat in Phase Three and perhaps Thor shows us what we can expect with it’s zipping between realms.
Another enjoyable journey to Asgard and back again, Marvel’s stock continues to rise. It appears they can do no wrong at the moment and the Captain America trailer has already garnered a huge buzz about it, the super-hero dominance doesn’t look to be going away any time soon.