Chris Hemsworth’s hammer-heaving Marvel Comics hero returns for more intergalactic brawling in his second solo adventure, whizzing back and forth between the realm of the gods and various touristy bits of London as he battles vengeful dark elf Malekith – a pointy-eared, unrecognisable Christopher Eccleston.
With Malekith plotting to plunge the cosmos into everlasting darkness, there’s no space for the blundering fish-out-of-water comedy that was such an entertaining feature of 2011’s Thor; and with Tom Hiddleston’s endlessly watchable Loki, Thor’s wily brother, banged up in a celestial prison cell for a long stretch, it is no wonder that the film’s middle section drags.
Natalie Portman’s astrophysicist Jane Foster, Thor’s mortal love, languishes in a largely passive role this time, whisked away for safety to the Norse gods’ home, Asgard; and her scientist colleagues Erik and Darcy, played by Stellan Skarsgård and Kat Dennings, are relegated to run-of-the-mill comic relief.
Fortunately, elsewhere, the script has enough flashes of wit to keep us engaged. A fleeting cameo by another famous face from the roster of Marvel superheroes provides a laugh, as does the sight of Thor hanging up mighty hammer Mjölnir on a coat peg. A mass Viking funeral proves unexpectedly moving, and when Loki emerges from his cell, his scenes with Thor have an enjoyable spark.
Taking over the reins from Kenneth Branagh, director Alan Taylor (a veteran of The Sopranos, Mad Men and Game of Thrones) really pulls out all the stops for the climax, an epic dustup that at one point sees Thor and Malekith sliding down the side of iconic London landmark the Gherkin. Fast moving, fun, and deftly edited, this titanic scrap ensures the movie goes out on a high.
Certificate 12A. Runtime 120 mins. Director Alan Taylor.
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