New Thor director Alan Taylor made his bones creating truly great television like The Sopranos, Mad Men, and Game of Thrones. And based on this venture, he clearly knows how to turn a big unwieldy film around fast, from funny to tragic and back again; he’s light on his superhero feet. Like The Avengers, titanic reversals seem to be the new way to make a tentpole Marvel movie feel like the splashy pulp art of a comic book. (Computer graphics and auteur directors don’t work — remember the Hulk films?) When the master of slurpy expostulation Kenneth Branagh directed the first Thor installment, he turned most people off with his speechifying immortals echoing in the halls of Asgard. It was a mythic-scale warrior world somehow made boring, even though it was ruled by Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo. If anything, this sequel wallows deeper in sci-fi fantasy realms, yet the net effect is kind of awesome.
The whole thing is presented on an immense scale, but there are still neat and unexpected turns, begot mostly by evil bro Loki (played with consummate smarmy grace by Tom Hiddleston). Somewhere on a darkling plane ruled by darkling elves, Thor (the hunky Chris Hemsworth) and Loki hack away at each other brutally and then … surprise! Good people do die in this film, but resurrections happen, too, this being fanboy fantasy.
What you can’t deny about this cornball feast is that it spans time and space without a lot of cosmic lingering. Walking out of the theater, you’ll be shocked to realize the epic took a mere two hours.
Of course, in a pitched battle like this you can’t rule out even the most insignificant players, so keep your eyes fixed on the seemingly crazy. And don’t walk out of said theater too fast either; the credits offer two stingers, one points the way toward a new comic franchise, another includes an escaped space monster. Sure, it may be junk food, but the portions are enormous!