This is a wonderful art book for Marvel fanatics as well as anyone interested in film art. It has wonderful art for the characters, sets, and particular scenes in the film & features some story boards. What I like most though is the realisation of how hard these people have worked to get the perfect vision of the comic onto film for us, it really shows the effort and love thats gone into making another great addition to the Marvel universe. Thor was always my least favourite Marvel super hero but the films have changed my opinion and the art books are stunning, so I'm very glad when I was nervously pondering whether to take a chance and buy both the Thor art books that I did.
I'm impressed but also left with some mixed feelings after going through the book.
Let's start with the good.
This book comes with a slipcase as well, just like the first Thor movie artbook, but the book is even thicker at 272 pages. It feels good just looking at how thick the book is.
Since the first book has already covered the character designs for the main characters, coverage for them is smaller here and focuses instead on the subtle design changes. The bulk of the character designs are for the Vanir, Marauders, Malekith, Algrim, Kurse and Dark Elves. The enemies have more pages. But overall, there are lots of great designs and variations to look at, as well as some props. There are the head prosthetics and final film stills to look at.
Concepts for the locations are amazing, especially for Asgard which is really beautiful. However, the art can sometimes be a bit rough and have a very CGI look. Many of the environment art are printed huge, sometimes across two pages, but some don't seem to have the resolution to go that big and result in less than sharp images. At least they captured the mood and atmosphere well.
Storyboards for selected sequences are included, some are animatic storyboards.
Now for the bad part.
Some of the designs are too dark. I know the movie is called Thor: The Dark World, but still... The details fading into darkness thing can be a bit overkill in this book. I have a difficult time making sense of the interior of the Dark Elves' Ark. Much is shrouded in darkness. Many of the character designs also have their details lost into the black. If I'm reading a comic book, that's pretty stylish use of black, but this is a concept art book so I should at least be able to see stuff clearly.
The concepts are good but the quality is marred by the images being less sharp and too dark at times.
Overall, it's still worth a buy because it's a decent artbook with plenty of stuff to see.
(See more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
I went to see Thor: The Dark World on the strength of the images I saw in the ads on TV: looming black spaceships, sunlit Asgard, the dark landscapes of Svartalfheim. I didn't expect much from the film, since I didn't much like Avengers Assemble and had not at that point seen Thor, so it was a real surprise to find that I loved it and ended up seeing it twice at the cinema (I think that's the first time I've ever done that!). The production was even more beautiful than I had hoped, so when I learnt that there was a book on it ... well, I really wanted it. And got it.
So what do I think? I think it's excellent. My previous benchmark for books of this type is the Art of Star Wars series (old, I know), but this is very much better than those. The book is founded on pictures, of course - production and VFX stills, concept art and keyframes, models and props, character designs and storyboards - but each section is supported by text which explains what the artists and designers were tasked with achieving, the inspiration they drew on and what motivated the choices the production team made. It's only a tiny insight into the process of making a film, but I found it fascinating. Many people are given a voice in this book, from the director on down to individual artists, which lends the whole thing a nicely collaborative feel. The picture quality is largely very good (the gloss paper and large format pages help), though some of the production stills are a little murky. There are a few typographical errors in the text, but only minor and nothing that interferes with understanding. My favourite parts are the lengthy chapter on the dark elves and the designs for the various aspects of Asgard.
But - and it's a very big but - the book does not cover the whole film. And yes, I did know that before I bought it, and I'd definitely rather have it than not, but it's still a great frustration to have those lovely designs and explanations cease partway through the sequence in Svartalfheim. No return to London, no final battle with Malekith, only the most token examination of the marketing campaign. I can't imagine what Marvel was thinking. I presume this book was put on sale when the film was released, so it's not like the plot would have been spoiled for anyone who really cared. Will there be an updated version later, so those of us who want the design development of the whole film can be satisfied?
So as much as I value The Art of Thor: The Dark World, then, it's fours stars from me, and that's purely because of what should have been there and wasn't. If you enjoyed the look of the film, though, you'll surely enjoy this book and for its quality, the price is fantastic.
This book contains the following: Foreword, Introduction, four chapters of varying length which work through the film chronologically up to the confrontation in Svartalfheim, a fifth and very short chapter on marketing, Afterword, Contributor Bios, Acknowledgements and Artist Credits. The Book of Yggdrasil is included, and those fantastic marketing pictures of Thor and Loki are on the slipcase.