Rated: PG-13, 120 mins
Director: Alan Taylor
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston
This second instalment of the Thor series begins strongly with a Lord of the Rings-esque dark elves context for the film and it’s not long before new director Alan Taylor stuns the audience with the incredible graphics of Asgard, Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) home.
We understand Thor still longs for Jane (Natalie Portman) after his brief stint on earth in the first film, as he fails to enjoy the revels of the town celebrating the peace of the nine realms. Switching quickly from the epic Asgard to London, brings a rather funny context- especially when Chris O’Dowd, an adorable Irish actor, comes in to contrast Thor’s epic adventure with Jane’s very human attempt at navigating the dating minefield.
The film doesn’t take too long to get going, and when Jane and her hilarious intern Darcy (Kat Dennings) discover a gravitational anomaly, Thor is pulled back to earth to look for Jane.
The film continues to twist and turn as the plot unfolds, and the gadgets are well-integrated into the film, especially the weapons of the elves- including one particular bomb which sucks all matter close to its range into a black hole type force. The ships of the elves were incredibly well designed along with the haunting costumes of the elves as the masks were simple but effective, much like the Immortals from 300.
This movie didn’t lose its humorous touches either through the amusing contrasts of earth and Asgard- especially when Thor finds himself on the London underground (though, film producers, you cannot get from Charing Cross to Greenwich in three stops as the film suggests- one little bone to pick!)
Kat Dennings is still incredibly funny as Darcy, the underpaid over relied upon intern, and brings a real bit of spunk to the film, and this really is my only casting quam- that I wasn’t convinced, and still aren’t, that Natalie Portman is a good partner for Thor. I’m a big Portman fan, I loved V for Vendetta, Black Swan and even Closer but I’m not sure she has the spark needed for this.
Someone like Emma Stone would have been better; attractive but with a bit of spice. Whilst there is a damsel in distress element needed for the character of Jane, she should also be punchy and quirky and I’m not sure that Portman brings this to the role. Jane is also underdeveloped as a character and it’s slightly unbelievable that a rational, established, fully grown female scientist could pine for Thor for years then fall back into his arms the second he returns. This could only happen under a cloud of passionate and undying love absorbing all reason and this epic affair just isn’t present between Chris and Natalie on film.
Despite the slight question over this casting, the film is still good fun and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is an ideal villainous mix of crazy and witty. Under the influence of Loki, Captain America also makes a well-timed cameo appearance, and I love how the marvel films manage to bring in references like this so brilliantly time after time. There are, however, many relationships left unexplored, like Loki’s relationship with his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and the tension between Thor and the Zena-like Asgardian girl Sif (Jaimie Alexander) who clearly fancies herself Thor’s lady.
You can certainly tell the difference in the director here as this sequel comes from Game of Thrones leader Alan Taylor, but this is no bad thing and though the plot won’t blow you away, the final twist will leave keen fans pleased.
If you’re not into the Marvel and superhero films, this might not be for you, but if you’re already in love with the characters and are happy to take the film on the merits of the cast over plot, especially Hiddleston’s fabulous Loki, this is certainly a film to see. Oh, and girls, if you’re not too keen, I can promise you that there’s a good amount of topless action from Chris Hemsworth, noted by a few wolf whistles in the cinema!