When an invitation to attend a pre release screening of Thor The Dark World arrived here at Midlifegamer, it was difficult for me to turn it down, even if it meant a potentially perilous drive down the M1 during one of the worst storms in this green and pleasant lands recorded history. Doubly so as Mrs Adamski had also been ‘involved’ with the movie, providing some of her artistic work for the set dressers. Much like our arrival to London, the latest Marvel release of the superhero universe ends up being a series of coincidences which you have to overlook to see the full wonder.
After some initial worries about motorway flooding, congestion charges, extortionate parking charges and tube trains, we found our selves parking up right on the edge of the congestion zone for less than a fiver and just a 20 minute walk from Leicester Square. We parked here, if you’re interested.
We’d never been to the Odeon cinema here before and it’s somewhat refreshing to find that there is just one screen. One, wonderfully majestic screen making it the largest single screen cinema in the UK and one of the few remaining with stalls and a circle balcony above. We’d arrived with perfect timing, pretty close to the front, just before the doors and heavens opened. There was no fancy red carpet or anything like that (although there was a VIP entrance…didn’t spot anyone), we were simply ushered into the Stalls area, grabbing 3D specs en route (3D? Ooh, bonus!) and plopping ourselves down pretty much smack bang in the middle.
The place soon filled to its capacity of over 1,600 seats and as the lights dimmed, a gentle hush descended as we collectively and hypnotically donned our glasses and gazed upward toward the silver screen (it is actually a silver, lenticular, screen that is used especially when showing 3D movies due to the reflective properties of metallic and non metallic screens. The image was not at all washed out and grey, which can sometimes put people off paying the extra). It’s probably worth noting that the entire movie was converted to 3D post production which is kept low key for the most part, although there are some moments of depth and immersion when the camera isn’t racing around to keep pace with the action.
So was the near capacity crowd at the Odeon entertained for 2 hours? Without a doubt, yes. Something I’ve always been keen to impress when looking at any type of media is not only the subject matter, content and delivery, but also the surroundings, atmosphere and mood of the audience/individual. Being part of a large, receptive audience in such a grand surrounding no doubt helped fuel the excitement of the film as the whole place erupted in laughter at the one liner humor that punctuates Thor The Dark World throughout.
The film is set following the events of The Avengers and we both would strongly recommend that if you make the effort to watch the first Thor movie and perhaps another sitting of The Avengers, it would maybe help as a refresher…you could plan a triple movie marathon, which wouldn’t be that bad considering that you’d top it off with a trip to the big screen to catch Thor The Dark World. But that’s just a suggestion; if you haven’t seen either of these, you probably should, if only for the sake of continuity.
So, without spoiling anything, we can tell you that its packed with plenty of action pieces and stunning visuals (no doubt thanks to the vision of director Alan Taylor following his work on Game of Thrones). The visual are delivered with aplomb and sitting through the end credits, you’re reminded of the colossal team behind all of the computer generated effects, but its put together so well, you forget that much of the time, actors would be delivering lines and brawling in front of the ubiquitous green screens.
The opening prologue provides us with a brief history lesson setting the stage for the main story arc and introduces us to what will become the main force of evil, Malekith and his Dark Elf followers, bent on revenge culminating in his desire to thrust the nine realms and whole universe into utter darkness.
Hammer Time. We’re reintroduced to the cast of the first Thor movie during the first act including my absolute favourite character, Mjölnir, Thor’s Hammer – which steals the show in one of the funniest moments in the film, but maybe that’s just the DIYer inside of me…pick the right tool for the job. None more so than the role of Loki who is given depth by Englishman Tom Hiddleston once more, but many argue that he isn’t given the screen time he deserves.
Thor’s broad shoulders are filled by Australian Chris Hemsworth (star of 185 episodes of Home & Away before landing the role of Captain Kirks father in 2009’s Star Trek). There is gratuitous shirtless scene, which he delivers brilliantly, although it could have been spliced in at any point and I’m sure they filmed a dozen or so semi naked clips of Hemsworth they could add in during the final edit. Odd then that we see a little more of Stellan Skarsgård’s flesh as Dr. Erik Selvig than we do of Thor.
Natalie Portman holds up as astrophysicist Jane Foster who this time round finds out what it was like for Thor to be a visitor on a strange world and she becomes oddly reminiscent of her roles in the Star Wars films. Which leads to the inevitable comparisons between Thor The Dark World, Lord of the Rings and Star Trek. At times, the film feels like its alternate history in Tolkien’s Universe but then switches to full on sci-fi with technological weaponry and skyscraper sized space ships.
Production is top class with very detailed costumes throughout (noting the consistent colour pallet used for characters and some complimentary schemes, like Thor’s red cape and Fosters red wellies) and you’re never unsure of where the action is taking place as it moves from one corner of the universe to the other with progressive acceleration as we hit the climax.
We both came away with a few questions as to the validity of the plot, some of the ‘scientific’ proposals, London Underground knowledge and how on earth Christpher Ecclestone managed to get such wonderful plaits in his hair, but if you cast all of this aside and just enjoy the ride that is hammered into you, it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours. It certainly go us in the mood to go back to some of the other Marvel movies…if not to spot the trademark cameo by the one and only Stan Lee.
Asked to give a rating out of 10, we’ll gladly give this a solid 8 out of 10 for the pure effort of the film makers. Like this review, make sure you stay through the end credits…the VERY end credits.
The film is on general release in the UK from 30th October and is rated 12A by the BBFC.