Like a gentle rub over the pocket area of your jeans, ”Thor : the Dark World” feels like a playful taunt before the more-satisfying final act.
Those aware of Marvel’s game plan will know these solo superhero jaunts lead to collective ‘Avengers’ films, and having already seen one of those (money-pig “Avengers” hogging the cinemabucks in 2012)- in all its crafty, Joss Whedon-heavy business, we know they’re worth the wait. You’d think that’d make those involved in the solo ‘Captain America’, ‘Thor’, ‘Iron Man’ films work harder, but nope, instead, a couple of them seem to have taken the approach of a lazy fat kid working mop duty at a Fish ‘n Chip shop – doesn’t matter how much he works, he’s going to see his pay anyway.
Not to say Marvel isn’t sharing some of the macadamias around with every cone brandishing their cream, but they definitely seem to be stealing the majority of the tasty bits for their tag-team movie.
Like the first “Thor”, which preceded “The Avengers”, the sequel feels almost like a splashy, exciting promo of better things to come.
Everything is now a set-up, a playing piece from a board, and a step closer to point B (being that “Avengers” sequel down the line).
Instead of concentrating on the movie on hand, being concerned with telling a good, solid stand-alone movie, the brass seem too concerned with pleasing the movie to follow this one. It’s like thinking about your next girlfriend, while you’re on top of the current one.
It’s not that the character of the hammer-wielding god can’t carry a movie on his own, because Chris Hemsworth owns the part and does a great job in both films, it’s more a case of writers and filmmakers not waiting for a good idea to come to them, but instead rushing a half-cooked one – in order to reach a release date, or fit in with those “Avengers” plans down the road.
Marvel, who just a few short years ago had to win Cinemagoers back, after some woeful adaptations, has had so much success in recent years that they’ve seemingly taken the banana lounge treatment to filmmaking. Knowing the thing is going to be successful, no matter how they slice it, they’ve only given the hammer a light swing.. Barely leaving a shadow on the cement below.
Godly Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns to Earth to rescue his beloved Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) from an ancient enemy (Chris Eccleston, behind a bucket of make-up), and later, his fellow Asgaardians – including his royal mama (Rene Russo) and papa (Anthony Hopkins).
Meanwhile, the big guy’s smirking, suss little brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) remains incarcerated, looking for an exit and ultimately finding one by way of a revenge mission alongside his sibling.
Also along for hero duties are Foster’s trusty science pals Dr Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard; acting in his underpants for most of the film), intern Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) – who herself has an intern this time (cue ‘light relief’), and a band of brutish Asgaardians.
Chris O’Dowd also pops up – for some inexplicable reason.
Alan Taylor’s lightweight sequel plays much like Kenneth Branagh’s first – part origin story, part love story, part Clash of the Titans, party ‘meet the character’ constituent of an ‘Avengers’ EPK. It doesn’t really move the franchise, and it’s story doesn’t add anything meaningful or significant to the world the studio set up in the 2011 original. It’s simply ‘more of the same’ – only with perhaps more humour (but even that feels a bit out of place, leave it to Joss Whedon to successfully combine the dark and light please) and bolder visuals.
There’s fun to be had here – some marvelous production design, some great moments between scene-stealing Hiddleston and meaty Hemsworth, and some well-choreographed fight sequences, a fun science lesson.. but while one eye remains impressed, the other will be awash with a feeling of déjà Vu.
Let’s hope Captain America’s next single plays a lot better, and not so much like a removed groove from a forthcoming Avengers album.