All things considered, Thor: The Dark World didn't really seem to have as much fanfare as previous Marvel flicks, but was that a reflection of its quality? Read on for my SPOILER FREE review of Alan Taylor's take on the God of Thunder.

Reviews Opinion

So with the long awaited sequel to Thor, Marvel have unleashed their latest uproarious comedy upon the world..and this one's a riot!

Sorry, my mistake...Marvel don't make comedies do they? Well perhaps someone should tell them that.

I actually really liked this movie (believe it or not) but I feel this is something that needs to be addressed. I'm not against humor, levity, a bit of fun -- but within reason. I understand that these are family films and I'm not looking for the "grimdark" experience of Christopher Nolan's Batman movies for example; but between Thor: The Dark World and Iron Man 3 Marvel's Phase 2 flicks have upped the comedy levels to a point where they're sacrificing some of the drama. While this was a major problem for me in the latter, thankfully it doesn't jar as much with Thor's second outing. Still, scenes which pack a genuine emotional punch have some of their weight taken away when they are immediately followed up by some antics with the crazy pants-less doctor (Stellan Skarsgard) and his sidekick (Kat Dennings)..and HER sidekick! Yes, in this movie the comic relief from the first Thor gets her own comic relief boyfriend. That's a new character added SOLELY for the purpose of getting a few extra laughs, while the main villain of the piece (Christopher Eccleston) is relegated to -- no exaggeration -- about 6 scenes. See where I'm coming from now?

Still, it must be said that although some of the humor falls flat and is shoe horned in at the most inappropriate moments, the movie is frequently damn funny. The biggest laugh comes from a scene between Thor and Loki but it'll spoil too much to even hint at the details. And I'll even admit to chuckling a couple of times at Kat Dennings antics too. Like I said, it's not the comedy that bothers me, it's just all about the right balance -- and when Thor: The Dark Worldl strikes it, it works very well.

The cast are all on form, with Chris Hemsworth giving his best performance yet as the titular Thunder God. Thor is a character that could easily become one-note, and -- lets be honest -- a bit silly, so it's a testament to the Aussie actor that he makes us genuinely care about a practically invulnerable deity. Natalie Portman is fine, but as is all too often the case, the female lead ends up being reduced to damsel in distress again. Likewise the Warriors Three (Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano) don't have a lot to of them is even sidelined 5 minutes in! And though the lovely and talented Jaimie Alexander has a few cool scenes, her hinted at love triangle arc never goes anywhere. Chris Eccleston plays Malekith, who wants to plunge everything into darkness, cos he's a baddie and...likes darkness? The less said the better -- he's by far the worst Marvel villain yet, and I can't even say Eccleston does the best with what he has to work with because he's in clear "Cobra Commander" phone-in mode here. So thank Odin for Tom Hiddleston as Loki, taking both villain and reluctant hero duty. Why is he so popular? It's really not a very hard formula to figure out: Write a great character and get a great actor to play him and you'll get results. Thor's adopted brother gets the biggest laughs, the best lines, and has the most emotionally satisfying arc -- all while fighting for screen time with clowns.

Director Alan Taylor definitely has a better grasp of high fantasy that his predecessor, and this time Asgard and the rest of the 9 realms seem much more real and lived-in. This is one lovely looking film (see it in IMAX if at all possible) and everything from the costumes, surrounding structures, and special effects are first rate. He also handles the action with an assured hand, and this movie has plenty of it. There's the usual aerial attacks, explosions and battling armies; but the best stuff is the more intimate hand-to-hand (or at least hammer to hand) encounters. The highlight, not too surprisingly, is when Thor and Loki team up to take on Malekith and Algrim. There's so much great stuff going on here both from an action and character standpoint that the movie struggles to top it with its final dimension-hopping set piece -- not that that isn't well executed in its own way (even with the constant cuts to Tweedledum and TweedleDennings).

Get past a terrible villain, try not to think too much about the nonsensical plot, go along with the sometimes forced gags (is all this asking too much?) and you ARE in for a treat. Because despite all of its problems Thor 2 is probably Marvel's best single-character effort next to the first Iron Man. Oh, and there's an absolute humdinger of a mid-credits stinger too!

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