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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

The Dark World


Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins and Stellan Skarsgård
Distributor: Marvel
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 12
Release Date: 24 February 2014

Having saved Earth from his brother’s machinations, Thor is forced to clear up the mess that has been left behind. Jane remained on Earth, trying to get on with her life without Thor. When her assistant arrives with readings not unlike the ones which preceded Thor’s initial arrival she investigates a portal in reality and gets infected with the Aether, a weapon designed by the dark elves to turn the universe of light back to a universe of darkness. Once infected, Malekith, the dark elf lord, is awoken from his aeons of slumber to reclaim his prize, destroy the Asgardians and bring darkness...

Thor: The Dark World (1 hr, 52 min, 04 sec) is the second fantasy film, based on the character and the eighth in Marvel's series of films. The film was directed by Alan Taylor from a script by Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.

If the first Thor film was about the need for maturity when wielding great power, this current story spends much of its time looking at relationships, and central is the relationship between Thor and Loki.

Of course the basis of what plays out in The Dark World was laid down in the first film, Loki’s (Tom Hiddleston) feelings of betrayal towards Odin, his rationalisation of the difference between himself and Thor (Chris Hemsworth), as the favoured son, but what we didn’t see was his enduring love for his mother, Frigga (Rene Russo), whose destiny would temporarily reunite the brothers. Of course, we get the on-going romance between Thor and Jane Foster, but apart from being the unhappy recipient of the Aether and therefore a focus for the plot, she gets to do very little.

The faux Shakespearian, introduced by the first film’s director, Kenneth Branagh, remains and, given the rather odd mixture of swords and spaceships, becomes the motif which holds the whole thing together. It would seem that you can pretty much say anything, if you have the gravitas of Anthony Hopkins, and get away with it.

This time around there is more of an attempt to inject humour into the first third of the film, with Stellan Skarsgård’s, Erik Selvig having to suffer the indignity of running around Stonehenge stark naked. Darcy (Kat Dennings) continues to be as kooky as she was in the first and of course we have the dark humour of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. The new kid on the block, Christopher Eccleston’s, Malekith has no humorous side, but he does bring an intensity to the role which goes a long way to selling it.

There is nothing special about the plot, in fact to felt very much like reading a comic: Bad guy turns up, there’s some sort of McGuffin to fight over, and the good guys win. Without the extra layer of relationships this could have been quite a shallow watch. However, the mixture of humour, family and some impressive fight sequences make the film an overall satisfying experience.

The film is presented with an anamorphic 2.35:1 aspect ratio and a very impressive transfer, with good blacks and rich colours. It also features a vibrant DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track, which has a wonderfully deep base. Overall the soundscape is used to great effect. The film comes with a full length commentary.

There is some confusion over the exclusive look at The Winter Soldier as the trailer plays before you get to the menu. But that’s not what they were referring to, that comes later.

The extras kick off with the Marvel One-Shot: All Hail to the King (13 min, 51 sec) a Mandarin piece with Ben Kingsley. It’s an odd mixture of funny and weird and may point the way to either the planned Dr Strange film, or a separate project. You get a Gag Reel (3 min, 30 sec) which proves that working with a cape can be a real bitch and wire work is dangerous.

The six deleted and extended scenes (7 min, 49 sec) can be played with an optional commentary from the director and Tim Hiddleston, for the Loki scene, worth a look for the new material. There are three featurettes, an exclusive look - Captain America: The Winter Soldier (3 min, 35 sec), most of the visuals are lifted from the trailer with a few shooting scenes interspersed and everybody bigging up the next film. A better exclusive is the little teaser which sets up The Guardians of the Galaxy which, as usual, is tacked onto the end of the film.

Brian Tyler takes us through scoring the film (5 min, 21 sec). The greater part of the extras is devoted to A Brother’s journey: Thor and Loki which can be played as a whole (31 min, 30 sec) or in two parts. This is part making of and part an exploration of their relationship and draws its visuals, not just from this and the original Thor but also The Avengers movie. Some of the genuine fondness that the two actors have for each other translates well to the screen to give that extra dimensionality to their relationship.

A good fantasy film, so long as you check your credulity at the door before watching.


Charles Packer

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