October 25, 2013
It's inevitably a lot to grapple with, and it means that the first half at least of Thor: The Dark World struggles to find something to really hold onto. The film jumps genres, it flits between a noticeably heavy amount of storytelling in places (certainly it makes sure it double-bags its recap of what's gone before, along with its stern warnings of what's to come) and it makes sure to throw in the odd big battle before quickly going off and attending to other business.
Compared to the concentration of the early stages in Kenneth Branagh's original Thor film, The Dark World can't help but come off a little poorer. It's lacking much in the way of glue to hold its at-first disparate parts together, and it finds itself juggling characters, narrative and scenes in a Game Of Thrones style - you can see why impressive director Alan Taylor got the job - just at double the speed.
But then, Thor 2 finds its feet and strikes gold. Marvel movies have always had humour to them, and the first Thor itself wasn't short of chuckles. Thor: The Dark World, though, has a long stretch where it has the right to call itself one of the funniest films of the year. Not ironic, unintentional humour either: proper scripted moments, great performances, and at least two wonderful touches that should bring the house down, doubly so if you're of a geek persuasion (in fact, there's a treasure trove for hardcore Marvel fans to uncover throughout much of the movie).
Said vein of humour, which doesn't undermine other things going on in the film, then seems to flood the movie with more confidence and coherence, and the second half, notwithstanding a massive computer graphics splurge, feels all the better for it.
In particular, credit has to go to Kat Dennings, reprising her role as Darcy, whose pitch-perfect delivery of lines consistently enlivens the scenes she's let near. Marvel's not shy about exploring potential spin-offs for characters, but count us in if it ever decides to give Darcy more of the limelight. She's the inquisitive, dry outsider, and given the weight of talent she shares the screen with, it's to Dennings' immense credit that, when the credits roll - with some superb illustrative work over the end titles, it should be said - you'll be wishing the movie had spent more time with her. She's just brilliant, as anyone who spent time with Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist already knows.