'Thor: The Dark World' Will Brighten Your Day

Ensign Lestat's Film Log, 9/11/2013

It's been a while since I waited with such great anticipation for a film. I thought those days were long gone, but the announcement that filming for 'Thor: The Dark World' (TDW) was underway got me quite excited. I didn't read much of the news, and shoved that ball of excitement to the back of my head. I was happy to wait for the coming summer and wanted to bask in the glory of this summer blockbuster.
The highly anticipated return to Asgard is finally here!
That was before my Mom mentioned a magazine competition giving away tickets for the film's November premiere. November? 'Thor 2'? What is this sorcery? I was immediately in doubt of the authenticity of this information till I read that, yes, indeed, the film was being released in November of 2013, not in the summer of 2014. This was something of a shock to me as I had imagined an action film of this kind only releases in the summer, and that it would not be released in 2013 as it would clash with 'Iron Man 3'. Now, I know that I am wrong about this because we saw 'Captain America: The First Avenger' in December a couple of years ago. And it came out the same year of 'Thor'. There is no logic to my thinking, but I had convinced myself.

With the knowledge of the November release, the knot of excitement was harder and harder to keep at bay. Mind you, it wasn't all I thought about. I happen to work long hours, and usually have little time to think at all. But, when at home, especially on weekends, I couldn't help my mind from wandering to thoughts of the film, the story, the expectations, the new director, Loki. The usual stuff.

It is, by now, no secret that I am extremely fond of the first Thor film, and of 'The Avengers'. I thoroughly enjoyed those two films, and that love has not diminished after subsequent viewings, which is always a good thing.

So, yes, while 'TDW' was released in the first week of November almost everywhere in the world, where I live it was released a week later. I had to skip visiting most of my favourite websites for fear of them giving away some (any) information regarding the film. Did I mention that I refused to watch any trailers or featurettes or TV spots or videos or anything of the film? It has become something of a custom for my sister and me to skip any and all information (especially the spoiler-filled trailers of the modern world) when it comes to a film we are interested in. This holds true only for those films that we have a predetermined reason to watch - usually a sequel to a film we love, or a highly anticipated adaptation.

I can't remember why we even went to watch the first Thor film. Probably because it was a comic book adaptation. Probably because it had Natalie Portman (Jane Foster) in it. Probably because the actors all looked well cast.
'Thor' - The legend comes to life.
Thor's not my favourite comic book character. None of the Avengers are. They're an egotistical, bickering lot, who make their own lives miserable, forget letting the enemies do that for them. They're a fairly frustrating bunch, and I often do not like them. But Thor saved Angel (of the X-Men) in a comic book an eon ago and I have, ever since, decided to look upon him a little more favourably. I begrudgingly admit that, well, this lot of Marvel films make me waver in my dislike for the comic book characters - but, yeah, no, they're still annoying. Nope. Yes. Never mind. Moving on!

When last we saw our Asgardian wondergods, one was in cuffs (Tom Hiddleston's Loki) and the other was battle-weary (Chris Hemsworth's Thor). From the beginning of this film we see that they and the Tesseract have apparently made it back home in one piece.

Since I am just bursting to talk endlessly about the film, I shall now follow Voyager's Doctor's advice and write a log, why bother others needlessly. So, be warned, what I write is full of spoilers. Stop reading now if you haven't seen the film.

The film starts of with Odin (Anthony Hopkins) telling us, the audience, a story. It is the story of his father, Bor (Tony Curran) battling the dark elves, a violent race, hell-bent on bringing darkness and destruction on all the nine realms. They are led by their fierce leader Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), a devious creature. They battle for the Aether, a mysterious substance that will imbue a person with great power. But, from this moment itself we know that it is not a substance that can be easily destroyed. It is hidden away, and forgotten about. Till now.
Malekith - the bringer of darkness and destruction.
This first scene immediately harks back to the first film, which also began with Odin reciting the story of an ancient battle. It's a nice connection that allows the audience to become comfortable again in this universe. And, surprisingly, I was not annoyed by the voice over narration. 

We are then transported to a moment, I suppose, soon after the events of 'The Avengers'. Loki is thoroughly chastised by Odin and given a gruelling sentence, eternity in a cell, where he will never see the one person who still loves him, his (adoptive) mother, Frigga (Rene Russo). They had a couple of short scenes in the first film, but it is evident from this exchange that both Frigga and Loki love each other immensely, and while she cannot forgive him his sins, she appears to still love him. And, from the looks of it, Loki's frigid and enraged heart can only be thawed by Frigga. But, more of that later.

The exchange between Loki and Odin is bitter and cold. Odin holds no mercy for Loki,  and Loki's remorseless retorts only aggravate the situation. It is obvious now that their relationship can never be mended. Loki has overstepped the line and Odin can no longer forgive and forget. If you think about it, since Odin is still fixing all the problems caused by Loki in the first film, it is no wonder his sentencing is as harsh as it is.

Thor is concurrently leading the battles of the nine realms. These battles were caused by the destruction of the bi-frost (Loki's fault as I mentioned). Thor, along with Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and the Warriors Three - Fandral (Zachary Levi in this film, as Joshua Dallas from the first film couldn't return due to scheduling conflicts), Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano) - are winning. But, of course. The battle we are privy to is on Vanaheim, and it's hilarious due to the exchange between Sif and Thor. Their long history is immediately evident, as is Thor's continued cockiness when in battle.
Lady Sif and Thor during the battle in Vanaheim.
Vanaheim turns out to be Hogun's homeland and he stays behind, which was disappointing, because I knew that that would mean he would not be a part of the rest of the story, which is a pity, since I really liked Hogun in the first film, and would have loved to hear his sage advice once again.

Back to the film. Despite the old Thor shining through in the battle, we soon see just how much Thor has changed when we see him later. Odin suggests, not so subtly, that he should forget the mortal, Jane, who will not be alive for very long and just keep his eye on what's before him - turns out that's Lady Sif. Later, when the warriors are all celebrating the victory, Thor is on his way out. These night outs are daily affairs with him we are told.

Attempting to pair these two off is apparently canon in the comics, but I do not know if either of them is actually interested in the other in the books. The ambiguity remains in the film as well. Sif may be interested, but Thor seems not to be.

Meanwhile, on Earth. Jane is attempting to get her life back in order. She's on a date, which is going seriously badly, as she's too busy not talking to the poor bloke. When Darcy (Kat Dennings) enters the scene with strange quantum readings, the two of them, along with Darcy's intern, Ian (Jonathan Howard), go to investigate. Things go completely sideways from this point on. Jane is pulled into another world which houses the Aether, and consequently becomes host to the same. It's a freaky sequence this, filtered red, with Jane floating in the stuff and suddenly donning otherworldly attire.

Her return to Earth (5 hours later) is followed by the return of Thor, who's nightly visits to Heimdall (the always magnificent Idris Elba) lead them to realise that Jane is not where she should be. Thor and Jane's reunion is rather humourous. To find out what the problem is, Thor takes Jane to Asgard. This move by Thor is not met with gladly by Odin. He akins poor Jane to a goat at a banquet table and asks for her to be sent back.
Heimdall sees all.
Unfortunately for everyone, the Aether awakening also awakens Malekith and his army and it isn't long before they're attacking Asgard.

It's at this point that in my head I'm screaming for a little bit more Loki. He is re-introduced to us through some captured elves. He's having a conversation with Frigga, and blatantly tells her that he does not consider her his mother. But she appears to see through his bluff. Just when the audience is becoming emotional, we see that Frigga is just one of Loki's illusions. He's talking to himself, essentially. And in the form of his mother, he is attempting to forgive himself. It's a small but powerful scene that tells us a lot about Loki.

Unknown to the guards, Kurse (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Malekith's second-in-command, has snuck in along with the other prisoners. He frees his people and indignantly leaves Loki to rot in his cell. Asgard is now overrun, and we have a battle on our hands. Sif leads Odin's security forces to beat the elves invading the palace.

Malekith comes for Jane, to take the Aether, but he is halted by Frigga. This is one of my favourite moments in the film, even though it comes relatively early on in the story. Frigga fights Malekith and Kurse and then, and this is what I love most, she tricks them with an illusion of Jane. This buys her some time, but not enough, as she is subsequently stabbed. The death of Frigga is one of the saddest moments I've seen in action films. Frigga was a genuinely likeable maternal figure and it was heart-breaking to see her die. The funeral scene was beautifully somber - she gets both a warrior's and a queen's funeral.
Frigga - The Warrior Queen
My first thoughts at this point were that Loki would not be pleased. During the funeral, Loki, still in his cell, is informed of Frigga's death. He acknowledges the receipt of this information with all the regalness of a king. But once the guard has left, the furnishings meet their maker.

Enraged by Frigga's death, Thor suggests a new plan to his father to combat Malekith - make him believe that he is getting his hands on the Aether, and then strike. Of course Odin says no. Granted it is a risky plan, but his insistence that Asgardians battle Malekith on their homeground seems suicidal. Thor knows this, so he does what comes naturally to him - defies the great All-Father.

What is astonishing about this debate between the two is that it is strikingly similar to their argument in the first film. Odin doesn't want to go into battle, the battle must come to him. Had the Frost Giants in the first film attacked Asgard, he would have launched a full-scale assault on them. But the infiltration of two Frost Giants doesn't bother him. Here too his claims are similar. He'd rather not take unnecessary risks by taking an army, or even just a handful of his crew to Svartalfheim (the elven home world) to take on the enemy. It's the conventional method versus the modern one (relatively speaking regarding Asgardians), but the writers show that they know the characters, and this makes the characters' actions believable.
Father and son.
Thor commandeers the assistance of all his friends for his plan. Sif breaks out Jane from her house arrest and meets up with Thor, she and Volstagg are in charge of fending off the guards while Thor escapes with Jane... and Loki.

Thor is the one who breaks Loki out of the prison. How exactly he does this, we do not know - he probably has a key to unlocking the cell forcefields, because no alarms go off when Loki is out.

Why Loki, one asks? Because, as Heimdall and Thor admit, there are ways off Asgard that only one knows of. Voila! Therein lies the importance of Loki. Fandral fends off the royal police, so that Thor and the others can pass through the hidden gateway. Heimdall is the last distraction, admitting to his treasonous acts.

But, I get ahead of myself. If ever I was concerned about this film, all worries were laid to rest with this scene. I believe the sequence is referred to as 'Loki's Return', and it is, beyond a doubt, the most memorable return ever.

The plotting of the plan itself is fabulous. The round table conference interspersed with the actual prison break(s) is an old gimmick given new life by the Asgardian setting. It was nigh perfect, had Hogun been a part of it, it would have been complete.
Loki, as he appears in his cell.
When Thor goes to the prison, Loki stands in his usual regalia asking Thor if he's come to gloat. Interestingly, Thor sees right through it and asks him to stop with the illusions. Only a sibling would know the actions and emotions of the other so well. When the illusion dissipates, the Loki we see is a tortured, self-harming creature, sunk into a corner, his clothes and hair disarray, his foot a bleeding mess - he is fragile to the core. I wish that the images of Loki in this state had not been pasted all over the internet, because it took away from the reveal. My great grouse with modern film promotions remains. The impact of the emotionless, cold and heartless Loki breaking down into a depressive mess is a powerful moment, ruined by today's standards of marketing. It felt real - depression over the loss of a loved one, over the realisation of past sins and the consequences of the same, these are human emotions, and that's what makes a story about ancient Norse gods feel relateable.
Loki, as he actually looks in his cell.
Enough of the tirade. Thor offers Loki the chance for vengeance and time outside his cell. Loki takes it. Next we see them prancing out and Loki is jabbering non-stop. Even after Thor tells him to quiet down, Loki continues on asking Thor how come he's not punching his way out. He then suggests that his illusions could come in handy and proceeds to disguise himself as a guard. Then changes himself back and changes Thor into Sif. Then he says something along the lines of 'perhaps you'd like me to be one of your new friends', and presto, he changes into Captain America (Chris Evans) and begins rambling on about tightness and patriotism. This is only stopped by Thor ramming his head into a pillar and tricking him into wearing cuffs, again.

This was funny. No, it was hilarious. It was so bizarre that it was great. The cherry on the top, Captain America of course. Chris Evans is brilliant in this cameo. I love cameos. Ever since Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) appeared after the end credits in 'Iron Man', all the Avengers films have had a cameo/ appearance of another member. The introduction of Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) in the first Thor film was a spectacular highlight and it got me super-excited (I don't know why, I'm not exactly a huge fan of Renner or of the Hawk, but it was exciting). Here, too, the cameo is sudden, but it's so brilliantly funny that it had me smiling for hours after the credits rolled. I think it had a lot to do with how Evans channeled Loki - it could have been the same person, Hiddleston and Evans didn't miss a beat in changing from one to the other. Credit, I believe, should go to the director, Alan Taylor, for that spectacular bit of directing.
Prison break never looked more glamourous.
The humour continues as all of Thor's friends threaten Loki with certain death if they smell betrayal. 'There's a line', he finally says to Volstagg's threat of death.

Our three leads then board the abandoned elven ship parked bang in the middle of the throne room. Despite Loki's pleas, Thor insists on flying. He does a bang up job, as is pointed out at every instance by Loki. The man can fly, but he can't fly a ship. Loki's running commentary is spectacular. Loki's return sequence is the funniest I have come across in a long time when it comes to films. It will take some doing to trump that.

Unfortunately, hilarity can never last. Once in Svartalfheim it appears that Loki has other plans. He stabs Thor and sends him rolling down a hill. When Thor reaches out for Mjolnir, Loki does the unthinkable, he chops off Thor's hand. As Thor lies in pain, Loki sides with Malekith who sucks out the Aether from Jane. While the audience is still reeling from shock, Thor screams 'Loki now!'. The illusion is lifted, and the full-bodied Thor attacks the Aether with his lightning.

This scene was hideous to watch. For the first time ever I very loudly went 'what the f***!' when Loki chopped off Thor's hand. It was unbearable to think that Loki would stoop so low. My thought was that there's no way Loki can make his way back into anyone's good books after this. However, I believe that we all had an inkling that this was just a distraction. Loki wouldn't go that far. We turned out to be right.
Brothers in arms.
Unfortunately, so did Odin. The reason the Aether was hidden away instead of destroyed was because the Asgardians didn't know how to destroy it. Thor's lightning doesn't work and the Aether joins with Malekith. As Thor and Loki attempt to fight Malekith's forces, Malekith escapes. Thor is losing his battle with Kurse but is rescued by Loki who stabs him with the mother of all spears. Only problem is that the spear's big enough to take out two, and that's exactly what Kurse does. He smashes Loki into his own chest, thereby stabbing him. As he lies dying, Kurse realises Loki's planted a bomb on him. Kurse is destroyed and Thor has to bid goodbye to yet another family member. It's a touching scene, which ends with Loki saying he did not come to Svartalfheim for Odin. We are left to surmise who he did it for. It must be Frigga. It could be to redeem himself to Thor, or it could be for the people of Asgard. We know not.

A very quiet pall fell over the audience as we watched Loki die. There's something magnetic about him, and a Thor story just seems incomplete without him. 

Jane and Thor believe themselves to be trapped on this world, when something very odd happens - Jane's phone starts ringing. Turns out the anomaly that she and Darcy had chanced upon earlier in the film is connected to this world. They end up in London and are reunited with Jane's clan, including the recently rescued Doctor Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård). Selvig in this film is suffering from Loki's ministrations in 'The Avengers'. The Hawk was able to get over Loki's mind-meld, but Selvig appears to have a hard time dealing with it. So when Thor returns his first question is 'Is your brother coming?'. 
Thor: Loki... is dead.
Selvig: Oh, thank god!
Thor: (confused sad expression)
Selvig: Oh, I mean, I'm sorry for your loss.

Just goes to show you, having a god in your head isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Meanwhile, we are briefly transported back to the elven homeworld. An Asgardian guard appears there and he subsequently reports his findings to Odin - Thor is gone, but a body has been found. Odin knows very well who the body belongs to.

On Earth, Selvig, Jane and Darcy hatch a plan to end Malekith. Through the use of science they find a way to extract the Aether from Malekith, but they need to time it correctly. Of course, that doesn't work out the way they want it to. The nine realms are now interconnected, and portals have opened up all over Greenwich. Thor is the distraction, while the three scientists and the intern set up the machines. Since they miss the peak moment, Thor and Malekith accidentally travel all the realms fighting each other. It's again an extremely humourous sequence. Jane is in control of the portals and thereby an essential component in saving the day. In the end, Thor takes the technology and stabs Malekith. He is transported, in pieces, back to his home world and the portals subsequently close. 
The final battle in Greenwich.
The world is safe again. Thor leaves Jane and the others to return to Asgard. He has a heartfelt talk with his father. He tells him that he cannot take the throne, the reason is not only Jane, it is because he will be incapable of making the hard decisions. Odin, resigns to his fate - a legacy wherein one son craved the throne too much, and the other not at all. With that he lets Thor take his leave. As Thor walks away, Odin transforms... into Loki!

The mid-credits scene introduces us to The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) who will be part of 'Guardians of the Galaxy'. That film is going to be strange, to say the least. I know nothing about that band of heroes, but my concern is that it maybe far too flamboyant for a lot of people's liking. That might just be me. But, hey, if they could make the story of a Norse god work, why not these people?

Last of all, the end credits scene shows us Thor and Jane united on Earth - he has given up the throne and perhaps Asgard to be with the woman he loves - romance is rekindled. 

Sequels are always bigger, if not better. This film often references both its predecessor and 'The Avengers'. It segues comfortably from 'The Avengers' much like 'Iron Man 3'. That film had a great impact on the Marvel film universe, and the characters must feel the consequences. Thor and Odin continue to fix those wrongs, and Loki ends up in prison. Jane is bitter that Thor has disappeared for two years, and pointedly reminds him that he was on the news, so she knew that he was on Earth. It's evident that her character was heart-broken after he disappeared, and they are both ready to take up from where they left of.

Since nothing is perfect, let me point out a few issues I had with this film:

1. Jane - A lovesick Jane is endearing but out of character. At the end of Thor she's attempting to look for him through scientific methods. In 'The Avengers' we're told that she has been sent on a very interesting research project - these do not sound like the actions of a broken heart. She seems to be well held together, though, yes, I admit that her not going for any other romantic encounters would be completely understandable. Bit hard for the average mortal man on Earth to measure up to a Norse god.
The beautiful and brilliant Jane Foster.
In the comics, Jane is nurse to Thor's alter ego, Donald Blake's doctor. They upgraded her to a physicist in the first Thor film, and that, in my opinion, was a great move. They had a greater connection because they both needed each other's help, scientifically. In this film, however, Jane's abilities are put on the back burner. Her knowledge is impressive, but they are useless to her in Asgard. She neither comes to the aid of Thor nor does she attempt to save herself. It's only when she's back on Earth does she get anything to do, and this is most disappointing. 

I liked that she was infected with the Aether, it was a diabolical way of getting Thor and Jane together, but if I'd had a hand in writing the story, the Aether would have turned her into a powerful foe, rather than just a vessel. A showdown between a superpowered Jane and Thor would be something I'd pay good money for, but it was not to be.

2. Romance - I don't understand the need to shoehorn romance into every film. Why is it imperative that the two good-looking leads have to get paired off? It's canon, yes, but must this be established from the first film itself? Portman and Hemsworth had a comfortable chemistry in the first film, but sparks did not fly. They didn't need to. It could have been slowly established. The fact that they pine for each other is not lost on us, but it seems a tad forced. They are both novel creatures to each other, Jane's mind and fieriness are attractive personality traits. Thor's otherworldliness, heroics and beauty are his. We don't mind that they fall in love, it just doesn't come across as genuine, or indeed, necessary. He is a scientific discovery for her, she, a great friend to him, leave it at that. But, anyway, too late now. The romance is sweet in this film, but still feels too forced. In this film, Thor knows Jane a lot more than she knows him. He's been watching over her through Heimdall. So, when he chastises his brother by saying she is much stronger than he can ever imagine, it's because he now knows her well. She is obviously a commendable woman, because Thor is willing to risk a great deal to save and later be with her.
Thor and Jane in Asgard.
Heck, Loki and Sif had more chemistry between them in their two short scenes together, than Thor and Jane! That's saying something. Thor, in fact, has incredible chemistry with all the wrong people in this film. The atmosphere is electric when he and Loki are together, but that is what makes their relationship extremely credible. Oddly enough, there's also a great deal of chemistry between Hemsworth and Evans, which made the Loki-playing-Cap sequence all the more hilarious. Again, kudos to everyone for not missing a beat there.

Lady Sif - The Goddess of War
3. Lady Sif and the Warriors Three - While not their greatest fans in the comics, they were fabulous foils to both brothers in the first film. All in all a feisty, conscientiousness and loyal lot, they shone through as the chorus in the first film. In this film there is precious little of them. I've already mentioned that Hogun disappears right in the beginning. Lady Sif has more action sequences, and I genuinely enjoyed watching her performance in this film. Levi as Fandral is a bit jarring, to be honest. I understand he was the original choice for the role. He acquits himself well, and has the humour, chivalry and vanity down pat, but such a distinctive visage is barely hidden under the blonde hairdo and facial hair. But yes, more of all of them would have been ideal. They could have played a hand in the final battle, much like they did in 'Thor'. 

4. Too many characters - The problem with getting bigger is always that some people tend to disappear. I've mentioned the warriors not being there enough. There's also far less of Selvig and Darcy. Selvig's role is really reduced, actually. The issue is that we have a new bad guy, we follow him and his people, hence there will be other characters' screen-time that will suffer. Also, we have the medical sequence on Asgard which features a famous name like Alice Krige - you immediately believe there'll be more to her character, but then there's nothing. The extra component in this film is Loki. Usually the bad guy defeated in the first film, just stays dead or in prison, but Loki's so much more than a regular villain, so he becomes an essential element in the story. Without him the story would be incomplete, or at least, missing an important piece. With him here, and his own fascinating story, we have far too many characters to be following.

Having said that, I did, only at a couple of points, wish there was more of Loki. The film is lively, action-packed and funny enough for you to not miss anyone in particular.

And now, the conclusion.

I am already aware that this film has received mixed reviews. I will say that I am genuinely surprised by this. I was very concerned about this film. What Kenneth Branagh brought to the first film was an original vision - treating a comic book film like a Shakespearean play gave it a brand new feel to it. 

'TDW' is directed by TV director Alan Taylor, best known for directing 'Game of Thrones' episodes. I've never watched 'Game of Thrones' and I do not intend to anytime soon. I was concerned about what he'd bring to the table. What he brought was darkness, extensive battle sequences, murder and mayhem. All of which worked perfectly with the story. Granted, I didn't much care for Thor losing his hand for a brief time, nor the fact that Jane got nothing to do, but despite those blemishes, there is a lot to commend the writers and the director.
We shall know terror.
There may have been no overarching character arcs to follow in this film, but we didn't need that. This film was more about character studies. Thor and Odin lock horns again, even though, this time, they are mostly on the same side. This is because Odin can't credit Thor with the ability to make his own decisions about who he loves, where he goes, or with the fact that maybe, just maybe, Thor has an alternative plan that he should at least consider. He's willing to give Thor the throne, but he won't let him make any decisions on his own. This peculiar parental trait is aggravating and believable. Odin does turn out to be right about the destruction of the Aether, but it is Thor and Jane's plan that finally saves the day. So, yes, a little bit more respect for Thor's thinking wouldn't kill Odin.

The most fascinating story is that of Loki's. Having killed countless numbers on Earth, he remains remorseless when facing Odin. He believes himself to be correct, because, in his mind, his birthright was to be king. Odin points out that it was his birthright to die as an infant. This cruel statement is evidence of just how far Loki has pushed Odin. One might even believe that Odin no longer has any love in his heart for Loki. Loki harbours no affection for his father in this film. He did in the first film, but that has disappeared. He loves Frigga, and it is her death that nearly leads him to ruin. When we see Loki on the throne, we finally understand what he meant by the fact that he didn't attack Malekith for Odin - he did it for himself. But the question is, what did he do to Odin? Did he, disguised as the guard, take Odin to the elven world and trap him there? Has he hidden Odin in one of those secret passageways between worlds? Did he... kill Odin? I can't believe he'd be so cold, but it makes for fascinating speculation. Loki can't change. Not even his mother's death can do that. He learnt his tricks from Frigga, but he does her memory a disservice by using them for his own gains. I loved that extra connection between the two of them. Unfortunately, he's quite unstable. Solitude isn't for a lot of people, and it is no wonder he is babbling non-stop when Thor lets him out.
Facing the consequences.
If it is not evident by now, let me spell it out, I loved this film. I want to watch it again. And soon. The humour alone will drag me back, but the fact is the characters are magnetic. I loved them in the first film, and I love them still in this film. Anthony Hopkins has a much meatier role as Odin, and pretty much chews the screen with his performance. He has a commanding presence and portrays the character with fluency. Russo's Frigga is the heart of the Odin family, but her noble and fighting end will live long after the death of her character.

I'll not get tired of talking about Lady Sif. Small her role may be, but to see a female warrior is a rarity even in the 21st Century. Alexander certainly comes across as believably feisty, making her performance more than credible. I hope there's a 'Thor 3', and that all these wonderful characters come back in full force and grace our screens again.

Christopher Eccleston disappears into the role of Malekith, but somehow retains his distinctiveness. While I can't really comment on his acting, he makes for a frightening villain. His goal to destroy the nine realms is an outdated philosophy, but for a creature that is ruler of darkness, darkness is what will give him success. His sinister character imbued his scenes with a lot of tension.

Now to the leads. By now it is evident that I love the three leads. Natalie Portman is the rare woman who I can actually call beautiful. She is a great actor, and having Oscar-winners in your comic book film can only be a good thing. She acquits herself well in the role, but comes into her own most when her character is on Earth. The control over the situation gives her confidence, and she channels the confidence of Jane very well. I would have loved for her to have some fight scenes, though how they would have worked that one in, I know not. Unless they had gone with my idea, of course. I don't know how she feels about the character, but she definitely changes the dynamics of the role of the love interest. Jane knows her mind, and she certainly doesn't waste her time only pining for Thor. She has her work and her incredible knowledge, and Natalie brings that to the fore.
Natalie Portman is Jane Foster.
Chris Hemsworth in this film looks beyond stunning. Beautiful does not do him justice, he was much more than that. He also seemed more comfortable in the role, probably because this is his third outing as the character. His fight scenes are superbly energetic. The film is all the more watchable with him in it. It is hard to imagine another actor play this character, and make it work. He is also great at the more subtle emotions - the look of pride in his face when Jane uses a scientific term to explain the Asgardian medics' findings, the bereft look on his face when Selvig says he's glad Loki's dead, and the incredible sadness when he looks upon both his dead mother and his dying brother. It's not an outstanding performance, but it doesn't have to be. He is a credible Thor, he is fun and funny, heroic and human. He comes into his own in his scenes with Hiddleston's Loki. The duality of his feelings for his brother are well portrayed by Hemsworth - he can't trust him, but he needs him. It makes their final scene together far more touching because, for a moment Thor forgets about the past and just wants his brother alive.
Chris Hemsworth is Thor.
People are complaining that there wasn't enough of Loki. Considering how talked up he is, and how Tom Hiddleston keeps plugging the character, one would genuinely imagine there to be a lot more of him. But, logically speaking there could not have been more. I knew from the very start that there would be less of Loki than I would want (I want a whole ruddy film on him), but since this film is called 'THOR' and not 'LOKI', it can be well understood that Loki would only have a small part to play. Fact is, Loki's not the main villain here as he was in both 'Thor' and in 'The Avengers'. In the former he did have a significant role, but even then it was not that much, because we were being introduced to a whole host of characters, along with two new worlds. In 'The Avengers' what was fascinating was that Loki goes toe-to-toe with almost each and every Avenger. Despite that, he doesn't have as large a role as we all think he does. Probably because he's a scene-stealer, and other people just disappear when Tom's on screen anyway.
Loki in 'The Avengers'.
My point is, with Malekith being the big bad, he brings his own story and his own dynamic to the film. We all want to see lots of Loki, but when we know there's a new bad guy in town, it makes no sense to complain that there's not enough Loki. Granted, I would have loved for him to have a few more fight sequences or at least a longer one. But, I'm just glad he didn't stay dead - that would have ruined the franchise for me.

Hiddleston very obviously loves playing Loki. There is something mesmeric about this broken personality - he's tipped over the edge, and he's attempting to climb back up. But he's gone too far, and he's far too desperate. Is there any redemption for Loki? Hiddleston plays the cold and calculating bits with aplomb, but when the frigid surface cracks, the emotions on his face are heart-wrenching. He may be evil, but some of us can't help but understand him. Without a doubt, however, he truly comes into his own during the return sequence. Striding side by side with Hemsworth, he steals the scene with his wise-cracking ways. He ups the ante from 'The Avengers', truly revelling in Loki's flamboyance. He embodies Loki completely. I suppose had he not the face of an angel we would not love the character so much. But he's stunning to look at in this film, albeit a bit pasty-looking, and one cannot help but want to see more of him and his breath-taking beauty.
Tom Hiddleston is Loki.
There is so much to love about this film that I'm surprised that people are so incredibly disappointed. The pace of the film itself is a big plus. The dark tension is well cut by the memorable humour. The film doesn't break the mold, but it does try a few different things, that make it stand out. An incredible female warrior, a queen who dies fighting for her people, the love interest who's most attractive trait is her world-saving brilliance, the sidekick/brother/antagonist who is credibly insane but infinitely magnetic, and the hero who dons a red cape but is grounded in realism.

I'd had a terrible week, and the only thing that got me through was the afternoon tickets for 'Thor: The Dark World'. It is the best comic book sequel in a long time, and it is well worth watching several times over.


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