Hammer time

OUT NOW! Avoiding the frequent pitfalls of superhero sequels, THOR: THE DARK WORLD is an entertaining adventure sure to make megabucks for Marvel.

Chris Hemsworth lifts the mythical hammer for his second solo outing as the Nordic god and while the name might suggest the usual gritty sequel syndrome, “The Dark World” seems more interested in slapstick, tragedy and theatrics and it’s all the better for it.

We’re up in Asgard. Battles have been won and we look to be entering a time of peace. The warriors enjoy their spoils but Thor still pines for a lady down on earth. She’s a physicist called Jane and she’s played by Natalie Portman. Down the alleys of central London, Jane slips through a portal and stumbles upon an ancient weapon. It takes her body as host and so Thor must re-unite with his old flame and take her to the Dark World in order to destroy it before it destroys her. But when Asgard comes under siege from an awakened foe, Thor must spring his disgraced brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) from prison to guide him there. A Smeagol for their journey into Mordor.

Hemsworth leads a strong cast with Anthony Hopkins and Stellan Skarsgard both putting in shifts but Tom Hiddleston’s Loki looks the pick of this respectable bunch. His enduring villain is no doubt an underdog- the illegitimate brother of a popular, showboating, insanely handsome prince- Loki’s a backstabber and a megalomaniac but it’s difficult not to love him. And Hiddleston, all gaunt and slimy, is brilliant in the roll.

So Marvel’s megabucks project looks in good health, it’s found a nice groove and in some ways we have Thor to thank for that. A character of such fantasy, he always looked a tough sell alongside all those mortals- even with their shiny suits- but Marvel seem to have accepted the absurdness of their space god and the result is gratifying, devoid of pretension and leaves plenty of room for gags. Do we want an explanation for the gulf in abilities between him and, say, Capt. America? No. Do we want to see what Thor is like on the tube, or what he does with his hammer when he’s visiting friends? Yes. And lots of it.

Thor: The Dark World | Directed by Alan Taylor (USA, 2013) with Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston. Starts October 31