Director: Alan Taylor
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Eccleston and Idris Elba
Running Time: 112 minutes
Release Date: October 30th
The popcorn sequel to 2011’s Thor sees alien realm Asgard reeling not only from the events of the first film but also last year’s Avengers Assemble (where thunder god Chris Hemsworth had to assist a ragtag gang of super-misfits in the defeat of his mischievous, megalomaniac brother Loki and his army of extraterrestrial footsoldiers). As is customary with the ‘solo’ Marvel films, Thor 2 finds the eponymous Michael Bolton-lookalike separated from his Avenging comrades—forced to save the universe with only his wits, his trusty hammer and Natalie Portman’s spunky brand of astrophysicism.
Many of the primary actors are responsible for the wit and flavour of the film as was the case with the Kenneth Brannagh original (Brannagh is replaced by TV veteran-cum-Hollywood newcomer Alan Taylor). Tom Hiddleston injects genuine Shakespearean majesty into Loki, Hemsworth injects genuine Summer Bay dreamboat into Thor—just like the last film, the rising star excels at exposition, as if he’s telling us a beautiful poem.
The film once again assures us that even a phoned-in Anthony Hopkins performance can be a very good one indeed. Natalie Portman and Cat Dennings are charming and hilarious throughout. Less successful is Christopher Eccleston as the largely undeveloped villain Malekith. Possibly as a side effect of the rather crowded film, the former Doctor is relegated to ominous scenes where he stands around menacingly, opining in an alien language. His presence certainly adds star power, but the role could have been given to anyone with patience enough for lengthy makeup sessions.
Like all Marvel Studios outings, the film brings an array of action scenes sprinkled with enough characterisation and humour that the audience never stops having a good time (something Zack Snyder spectacularly failed at doing when he directed ‘Man of Steel’). However, while Thor 2 is a technical marvel, it fails to break any new ground. In fact it makes every broad stroke imaginable—the films blends elements of swords and sorcery with space opera, action with romantic comedy, creating an amusing if trivial pastiche of crowd-pleasing cinema. Toes are dipped in a wide spectrum of genres meticulously ensuring that every demographic is catered for.
Certainly this isn’t a reason to fault the film, but at times it feels as though it may be playing it a bit safe, particularly for Marvel—a company that prides itself in three-dimensional stories and troubled characters. Nonetheless, a crowd pleasing romp from start to finish that earns its price of admission.