Far more enjoyable than it had any likelihood of being, and much better handled by Sir Ken than I expected, this latest Marvel adaptation rarely edges into "great" territory but it is mostly a lot of fun.
The fish-out-of-water Earth sequences tend to be superior to those in Asgard, but even there it manages to be frequently quite engrossing thanks to Tom Hiddleston's performance as Loki. The Asgard material does kick off quite stodgily, however, not breaking into its stride until a bravura fight sequence involving the frost giants.
Once banished, Chris Hemsworth is entertainingly cod-Shakespearean, smashing a cup in a restaurant and asking for a horse in a pet store. Of the actors, Hopkins shows up, Portman is okay, Skarsgard has little to do. Kat Dennings makes the most of wisecracking best friend, Idris Elba is stoney-faced in weird contact lenses, Ray Stevenson gets the Brian Blessed part and Jamie Alexander is the attractive action chick.
Ultimately the film copes fairly well with the demands of SHIELD-involvement and Hawkeye cameos, but comes a bit unstuck with the prerequisite overblown set piece finale.