Movie review: Thor: The Dark World

It doesn't take a genius to notice that it appears that publisher Marvel are taking over our world – of cinema that is. Year after year we're seeing more superhero antics blast upon our screens.

Since 2000 we have had almost thirty superhero films featuring Marvel characters alone (Batman, Superman etc are characters owned by DC comics) – now that's a hell of a lot of spandex.

This trend is also set to continue well into the distant future and beyond. So those who don't like their heroes in capes and tights aren't going to be saved any time soon.

If there's a silver lining or two, it's that some of the stories a) don't rehash an already done to death origins tale, and b) can end up being thoroughly entertaining, as is the case with the hammered one's second outing.

It's been two years since Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) last saw Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and to say she's a fairly miffed is putting it mildly. Little does she know that he's had quite a bit on his plate; he's been busy making sure that everyone has been behaving themselves within the Nine Realms. And they haven't.

Causing the biggest headache has been a race of dark elves ruled by one called Malekith (Christopher Eccleston); they've already had a pop at taking over Asgard and are clearly not ones to let defeat get the better them.

Thor does finally catch up with Jane on planet Earth, but it's probably more business than pleasure than either would like when Jane literally stumbles into trouble in London when some dark matter makes her acquaintance. And before you can say 'hammer time', Thor finds himself in a bit of a pickle spanning all Nine Realms, including Earth.

Even though you wouldn't necessarily expect it to be his cup of tea, Kenneth Branagh did a pretty impressive job directing the first Thor flick. With Branagh not returning, it took a brave soul indeed to step into his directing shoes. It's all the more nervous when you consider that Alan Taylor hasn't made a film since his debut in 1995. That said, the film was the pleasingly quirky Palookaville, starring Vincent Gallo.

Since then, Taylor has been beavering away on the small screen, directing various shows including Homicide: Life on the Street, The Sopranos, Mad Men and, most recently Game of Thrones, which was probably the one show to seal the deal. With that experience under his belt, he's made a decent return to the big screen.

If you just accept the fact that it all looks very swell in a very CGI-tastic kind of way, his most notable talent appears to be that of juggling. There's a lot going on in this film, and with a lot of it nerdy guff, Taylor does well in not getting lost in the science (fiction) of it all.

For one thing, it seems elves are not the sole property of Harry Potter and Co, so seeing them running around fighting Viking-types takes some getting use to. There's also this dark matter malarkey, which would be OK if you happen to have Professor Brian Cox sitting next to you to explain it, otherwise there's a chance, just like Thor's hammer, it'll fly over your head.

What saves the day – besides Thor, obviously – is a script that has plenty of fun dialogue, conveyed by a cast that clearly had fun delivering it. As you'd expect, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has the majority of the best one-liners, but Thor makes sure he doesn't get it all his own way.

What this sequel, much like the first instalment, manages to achieve is an original story well told. Yes it does throw a lot at the screen all at once, but much of it sticks in a pleasingly enjoyable manner. The larger than life characters certainly help, as well as the interactions and relations between humans and superheroes.

Although it feels like the world is swarming with superheroes and villains (has anyone told S.H.I.E.L.D yet, they should probably be informed, surely?), Thor manages to stand out from the crowd and continues to make an impressive impact, by putting the 'super' back into superheroes.

4 booms

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