Tag Archives: Thor

Film Review – Thor: The Dark World

With the Frost Giants defeated and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in prison, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is helping to return peace to the nine realms. However, after Jane (Natalie Portman) discovers an ancient force known as the Aether, Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), leader of the Dark Elves, hatches a plan to harness the Aether to return the nine realms to darkness.

The unique thing and the Thor franchise compared to the other Marvel films is that its hero comes from somewhere other than Earth. This presents its own set of pros and cons, but what it does ensure is that it has the opportunity to stand proud from its peers such as Iron Man and Captain America.

Thor: The Dark World takes advantage of other worldly locales more than the first film and it’s better for it as a result. We get to see some of the other realms, albeit briefly, and Asgard feels more fleshed out, starting to feel like a living, breathing world. This is no doubt down to director Alan Taylor who has also directed TV fantasy epic Game of ThronesWe still get a good chunk of the film set on Earth, however; this time in London. This split between the recognisable Earth and fantasy of Asgard is well balanced and adds excellent variety to the film’s locations.

One area where the film really excels is in its humour. Marvel films always have a rich vein of humour running through them but Thor:TDW turns it up a notch. It’s genuinely funny in places, with much of the humour coming from Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. His biting remarks towards Thor are frequent (maybe even a little too frequent) and more often then not will raise a giggle. Thor himself also some amusing moments, ensuring he’s not totally outplayed by his on-screen brother.

And it’s in the chemistry between the two brothers where the film really shines. Chris Hemsworth is a little held back by the nature of Thor’s character but still manages to inject a bit of personality into the role, particularly when he’s so obviously out of place during his time on Earth. Tom Hiddleston was undoubtedly the best thing about the first Thor film, and arguably also in Avengers Assembleand he’s similarly brilliant here. He manages to perfectly balance Loki’s smarmy yet scared persona masterfully; we see him goading Thor and hatching devious plots throughout, yet we also see a sadness and vulnerability that shows a deeper side to the character.

Unfortunately, this characterisation does not translate to the film’s villain. Christopher Eccleston’s Malekith is a frankly banal enemy devoid of personality or threat. This isn’t Eccleston’s fault, merely that of the character, and is a trend all too common with the recent batch of superhero movies.

Superhero films a ten a penny these days and it’s easy to become jaded by their familiarity and somewhat formulaic nature. Likewise, if you’re not a fan of the genre, there’s little here to suddenly change your mind (well, Chris Hemsworth maybe). However, thanks to some excellent set pieces and laugh out loud humour, Thor:TDW establishes itself as one of the best films in the Marvel series so far.

4 pigeons

4/5 pigeons

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Film Review: Avengers Assemble

Avengers Assemble shouldn’t have worked; it had no right to work. Trying to fit Thor, Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America and others into one film and do each of them justice without it being either unnecessarily long or a downright shambles simply should not have worked. But it did. It worked better than anyone really thought it would and has raised the bar so high that other superhero films are going to have to go some way to top it.

The Avengers

First, a caveat. I love superhero films and have read the odd comic, but i’m certainly no fanboy. I couldn’t care less if Captain America technically wasn’t in the original Avengers or if Loki’s eyes are the wrong shade of whatever – there’ll be none of that here; this is simply a film review. Anyway…

A film version of The Avengers had been in the offing for a while. The post-credits scene in Iron Man in 2008 gave us our first glimpse, with each subsequent Marvel film teasing a little more. Since then we’ve had The Incredible Hulk (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011), and Captain America (2011) giving us the backbone of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Add to that assassins Black Widow and Hawkeye, SHIELD agent Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), and Loki returning as the films antagonist, and you’ve got a fair few characters vying for screen time. There was the worry that the film would turn into Iron Man 3 Plus Others, but Joss Whedon has done a phenomenal job in giving each of them adequate screen time and an integral role in the story.

Thor, Iron Man & Captain AmericaGranted Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) probably is the most central of all the characters, but each and every one of them gets their time to shine, with even Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) having a much more important role than many may have suspected. Also, for those wondering if Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) had anything to do in the film following from his virtual no-show in the trailers, let’s just say his role might surprise a few people. Everyone has their chance to be a hero and contribute to the greater cause, and Whedon, proving to be rather adept at handling an ensemble cast, deserves a massive amount of credit for ensuring no-one gets overshadowed.

With probably the most expensive exposition in film history, spanning five films, Avengers Assemble doesn’t need to go into the characters too much, just enough to give us a recap of who they are and where they’ve come from. Instead we’re thrown pretty much straight into the characters’ conflicts with each other and left to wonder whether they’ll resolve them in time to stop an impending alien invasion. Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man don’t get on, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Iron Man don’t get on (in fact, Tony Stark manages to rub most people up the wrong way at some point), and everybody is frightened of pissing off Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo).

It must have been an incredibly daunting prospect trying to write a script of this magnitude and complexity, but it’s been handled with aplomb. The pacing is excellent and the dialogue is sharp throughout, with the perfect level of humour to balance the action. Everyone from The Hulk to Loki manages to draw a laugh at some juncture, and there are enough ‘fuck yeah!’ moments to fill ten other films. Rarely has another film of this ilk managed to intertwine all the necessary elements of a good blockbuster as well as this.

LokiTalking of The Hulk and Loki, it is probably these two characters that really stand out above all others. Mark Ruffalo has stepped into Edward Norton’s shoes as Bruce Banner, and it’s hard to see anyone else now in that role. Ruffalo excels as the slightly awkward, always on the edge Banner, and when he finally ‘goes green’, it’s handled brilliantly. Previous Hulk films haven’t really lived up to expectations and if the same happened here, it could really have dragged the film down. However, seeing Hulk smash and crash his way through New York is nothing short of exhilarating.

As for Loki (Tom Hiddleston), we knew pretty much what to expect due to his role in Thor, but he turns it up a notch here, and somehow manages to be even more evil, conniving, creepy, and pathetic all at the same time. Some questioned whether Loki could carry the antagonist role by himself, but he did so with style, and much credit must go, not only to the script, but also to Hiddleston, who showed he can amply handle such a big burden.

At nearly two and a half hours, Avengers Assemble isn’t a short film, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly it flies by. It’s fast and frenetic and full of over the top set pieces, but at the same time retains a human element that’ll just for a moment make you forget the characters include a Norse god, a genetically enhanced super soldier and a guy in a flying robot suit. For those who like superhero movies, this is a dream come true, and for those who aren’t fussed either way, just go and check it out – you just might like it.

Words: Chris Thomson

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New US Avengers Posters

With perhaps the most anticipated superhero film of all time only just around the corner, Marvel Avengers Assemble (still don’t like the new title) has got itself a bunch of new posters. These are US posters, hence them still having the original title emblazoned across them, but that shouldn’t stop you getting even more excited about the film than you are already. Take a gander below and start salivating.

The Avengers - Captain America                   The Avengers - Black Widow

The Avengers - Iron Man                  The Avengers - Nick Fury

The Avengers - Thor

All the usual suspects are present and correct, but the Nick Fury poster also includes SHIELD agent Maria Hill, played by the very lovely (and brilliantly named) Cobie Smulders of How I Met Your Mother fame. The character count is really starting to rack up, so it should be interesting to see whether they can all hold their own on screen.

Marvel Avengers Assemble is out in the UK on April 26th.

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