Thor: The Dark World (2 stars)

Thor: The Dark World

Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and Natalie Portman return in this uneven sequel to 2011's epic adventure

Having kicked off the next phase of Marvel’s seemingly insatiable quest to dominate blockbuster movie-making with Iron Man 3, it’s now back to Thor to further fuel excitement ahead of the next Avengers extravaganza in 2015. Yet while Thor: The Dark World is fun in places it's far from a satisfying experience.

Perhaps superhero fatigue has begun to set in, or maybe the central character suffers from the same kind of limitations as DC rival Superman, but this latest instalment underwhelms. And that’s despite the presence of an experienced director in Alan Taylor, whose CV includes episodes of TV’s The Sopranos and Game of Thrones.

The story picks up in the aftermath of The Avengers as Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns to Asgard to find the fragile peace of the Nine Realms threatened by the re-emergence of fabled enemies The Dark Elves and their vengeful leader Malekith (Christopher Eccleston). With the odds stacked against him, Thor must reunite with mischievous half-brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to protect all that he holds dear, including his Earth-based love interest Jane (Natalie Portman).

Like its name suggests, Taylor’s movie isn’t without dark elements but while there is some tragedy at play, there’s a much greater emphasis on humour and keeping things moving at a breakneck pace. This, in turn, makes for a much more uneven style while also exposing some of the franchise’s shortcomings. Thor, for example, is actually quite a one dimensional hero (something that Kenneth Branagh’s fish-out-of-water scenario in the original neatly side-stepped) and his love story with Jane is bland. The return of Loki compensates and the sequel is at its best when in the company of the masterful Hiddleston, but once Loki’s influence begins to diminish, so too does the film’s ability to impress.

General release from Wed 30 Oct.

Thor: The Dark World Official Trailer HD

Thor: The Dark World

  • 2 stars
  • 2013
  • US
  • 1h 52min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Alan Taylor
  • Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman
  • UK release: 30 October 2013

Thor (Hemsworth) returns to Asgard to find the peace threatened by the re-emergence of old enemies the Dark Elves, led by Malekith (Eccleston). Despite experienced director Taylor, it's less satisfying than Branagh's original; Thor has become one-dimensional and the greater emphasis on humour makes for a more uneven style.