Director: Alan Taylor
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings, Christopher Ecclestone, Idris Elba with Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins
Plot: An ancient evil awakens and wages war on Asgard, an invasion that causes tragedy, friends reunited and an unlikely bond between two feuding brothers.
I didn’t love Thor as much as I thought I would and I am struggling to put into words why. We’ll come to that later.
First, the plot. Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster is called back to the astrophysics world by her old intern, when some bizarre energy readings start flaring up. When investigating Foster gets sucked through a wormhole and stumbles across a hidden ancient weapon, the Aether. This triggers the return of the Dark Elves and Foster is soon picked up by her old friend, Thor, and taken to Asgard. While the Asgardians try to come up with a way to destroy this evil once and for all, they are too late and Asgard is attacked. Thor realises that in order to actually put an end to this menace once and for all, he needs to commit treason on his homeland and make peace with his brother, Loki, who is more than a little untrustworthy.
Alan Taylor takes over the director’s chair this time around, fresh from Game of Thrones, and this much is clear, because the scenery is very beautiful. We see much more of Asgard and Taylor transforms the land into something with a breathing personality. There is a sense that there is mythology in Asgard this time around, whereas in the first one, the Norse stuff felt like a gimmick, rather than a necessary part of the story. London looks just as beautiful as well, stepping in for usual target, New York, with ease. The final showdown looks gorgeous and this is another film that makes me appreciate my heritage as a Brit. Sadly, while Taylor has the background stuff nailed down perfectly, he struggles with the foreground. Exposition is clunky, characters are under-developed and the plot has more holes in it than Greenwich’s dimensional vortex.
Something I did enjoy is that almost every actor here brought their own unique set of skills to the table. The best example is probably Tom Hiddleston’s total control over the role of Loki, but, we all expected this from the character. We have the Shakespearian delivery from Anthony Hopkins, the loopy style of Stellan Skarsgard and the wit that Kat Dennings has learnt from Two Broke Girls. On the other hand, other characters are wasted completely. Idris Elba is once again asked to act with a single tone of voice and Christopher Ecclestone is asked to stand around and be vaguely evil. Alan Taylor isn’t the best person at handling such a large cast. The other Asgardians get an even smaller slice of the action this time around. Despite longer time spent on Asgard, the other gods get around five lines each, hardly making an impression on you. Maybe this is a good thing because the scenes in Asgard are so exposition-heavy that they are really dull and only heat up, when Thor is swinging his hammer at something. At the very least, Taylor takes Odin’s character in an interesting direction.
I might be criticising Thor 2 a lot, but it really isn’t a bad film. It is a decent effort on the part of Marvel; it just pales with the rest of the franchise. However, Kevin Feige makes sure that at the very least, we get some laughs out of the film and a good time. Sure, sometimes the comedy is a little too much, obviously trying to be a little too ‘Joss Whedon’, (they try to copy the Shawarma joke from Avengers Assemble, which felt cheap to me), yet at the same time, a lot of the jokes hit the right spot. We have well-timed cameos, deliciously terrific dialogue and the biggest laugh is hidden in the finale (and the London Underground). And trust me, Marvel once again give us an amazing finale. It breaks all of the rules in the book, uses every trick it has up its sleeve and keeps the audience guessing to the very end. If the first half can be accused of being slow and heavy, the second half is everything we want from Marvel.
Then why was I less than impressed. The question is circling around my mind. My best explanation is that the script seems to rush to the grand set-pieces, not putting too much thought into the actual story-telling. The Aether is a random object, acting as a plot device. Jane Foster stumbles onto the right wormhole at the right time too many times in the story. Too much exposition and not enough time enjoying the characters we already have. I hope it is one of those reasons. The only other thing I can come up with is that I have finally got bored of the Marvel franchise, something I really don’t want to be true.
Final Verdict: Not as good as previous efforts, yet this Marvel is still fun, beautiful to look at, and as explosive as we all it to be.