Thor: The Dark World is a film all about gods but, like its predecessor, it’s at its best when it focuses on the foibles of humanity. The film’s first half is spent primarily on Thor’s plane of Asgard – and somewhere called Svartalfheim (Gesundheit!) – and it’s mostly a slog. There’s some overly-serious exposition about a Power Rangers-esque villain who wants to use some ridiculous MacGuffin called the Aether to make everything dark matter or something.
The stakes are so high in the first half that it’s impossible to take things particularly seriously; Asgard still feels like the setting of a Saturday morning cartoon, so invading forces rending its CGI columns asunder carries little weight. It doesn’t help that the Thor/Jane romance is as flimsy as ever.
Thankfully, Thor’s last act provides timely redemption. The first action climax – the apex of a half-hearted heist plot – allows for exploration of the Thor/Loki dynamic, proving decisively that Tom Hiddleston is the best non-Robert-Downey-Jr element of the Marvel film franchise. A second confrontation is infinitely more playful, finding the intersection between superhero action and Monsters Inc, all imbued with a lively, silly sense of humour. If only the whole film had shone with such humanity.