This highly anticipated sequel to Kenneth Branagh and Joss Whedon’s 2011 Thor is great fun, looks fabulous, and is streets ahead of the recent Superman offering.…
A sterling turn from Chris Hemsworth as a heroic, handsome and sincere Thor, though Natalie Portman’s beautifully blow-dried heroine Jane hasn’t much to do except get infected, fought over – and mope.
Tom Hiddleston is clearly having a ball, stealing the show as the humorous, vicious and treacherous Loki [pause for a thought on the influence of bone structure on casting – big eyes and a pointy chin equal urbane, untrustworthy and usually English], and Christopher Eccleston turns in a creepy performance as a spacefaring svartalf, speaking his own language throughout, a nice alienating touch.
Thor’s gang is really only glimpsed here – you’d need another look at Thor 1 to remember who everyone is – while Rene Russo is graceful, courageous and underused as the Queen and Anthony Hopkins’ Odin suitably epic.
The human element is also a minor one here, so for me the sequel loses some of the heart of the first film. Jonathan Howard, Chris O’Dowd from The IT Crowd, Kat Denning from Two Broke Girls and Stellan Skarsgard’s hilarious lecture scene and streak through Stonehenge add a comic down to earth note. I’d have liked a lot more from them.
Character, story and relationships are only hinted at in favour of long beautifully realised CGI sequences and battle scenes, with quick-cut editing meaning you never get to see if the stuntmen can do more than one trick at a time. Impossible leaps and cartoonish falls disengage rather than excite in the virtual world, and after a bit the battle scenes begin to drag. Just a little.
Asgard looks Rivendell-spectacular, all soaring spires, crashing waterfalls and monumental columns, the aerial dogfights referencing Star Wars’ take on WW2, and the stark monochrome of the Dark World scenes filmed in a blasted Iceland a great contrast to a sensible grey-hued London, all obedient landmarks duly checked and occasionally ruined [makes a nice change from New York].
The music sometimes sounds so very Lord Of The Rings, it sometimes feels as if whole themes have been lifted – but it all works.
Advice – stay to the end – and even when you think you’ve been clever, stay to the END. PH
Related: Review: Avengers Assemble (2012)