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Thor: The Dark World - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Thor: The Dark World
Directing: C+
Acting: B
Writing: C-
Cinematography: B
Editing: B
Special Effects: C+

In Thor: The Dark World, the villains are "dark elves." Okay, fine. Except that they look ridiculous, and from the opening sequence on their world -- or in their "realm," as the characters here call them -- the special effects are sub-par. It's tempting to call them pathetic. Surely a lot of work went into them, but not enough to compete with the plethora of superior films to choose from; it feels a little like a rushed job. As does the film's direction, honestly -- the absence of Kenneth Branagh, who directed the original Thor, is keenly felt -- and most significantly, the writing.

Everything about Thor is preposterous even by typical comic book standards. This is perhaps a natural byproduct of there now being so many superhero or comic book movies that we are into second- and third-tier heroes, where neither the heroes or the villains have any chance of gaining the iconic status of those before them, who had not so much competition. Much like in Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World suffers from over-exposure in the Marvel universe, thanks mostly to its connection to The Avengers. The obligatory references to Loki's attempted invasion of Earth (a rather stupendous event, one would think) are gleaned over, as if it's just a footnote in these characters' recent history. Jane Foster (a surprisingly wooden Natalie Portman) says to Thor, "I saw you on TV. You were in New York!" Thor gives her some bullshit response, and, end of discussion, apparently.

Loki, for his part, is kind of a fun character but it's a bit of a mystery why he's gotten so much air time in three different Marvel movies. Granted, the twisted charisma with which Tom Hiddleston infuses him makes Loki easily the most engaging character in this movie, but director Alan Taylor can't seem to decide whether to make him a hero or a villain. This is a strange direction to take after Loki's previous crimes.

It hardly matters. Anyone with even the slightest intolerance for preposterous movie scenarios will have no tolerance for this movie. Chris Hemsworth is worthy of eye candy as Thor, and viewers are treated to a pointlessly gratuitous shirtless shot that has no bearing whatsoever on the story. Falling asleep after that would be understandable, given that Hemsworth and Portman have almost no chemistry, and Portman can't sell the idea of her being a scientist to save her life. Why we even have a character who is supposed to be a "scientist" in a movie universe that blithely casts aside all scientific realism is baffling. Also, with an entire universe to choose from, why would all these alien gods be so obsessed with Earth, anyway? So Natalie Portman can still have a job, apparently.

On the upside, unlike nearly all other superhero/comic movies, Thor: The Dark World at least presents its heroes as mortal. "We live, we die," says the king Odin (Anthony Hopkins, slumming but having fun). Loki retorts that they may as well be gods, as they live thousands of years and people of Earth live but a tiny fraction of that. Apparently, however, they are not invincible, as one key battle proves. For once, we have reason for emotional investment in their fates.

Would that the script actually provided a good reason. The is a story in which the blandest of villains (Christopher Eccleston) gets his hands on what this movie simply calls "the ether," something that looks like a sentient blob of zero-gravity blood, which apparently by chance -- due to some kind of inter-dimensional wormhole -- injects itself into Jane Fosters blood stream. Thor senses trouble; he rushes to Earth, and brings her back to Asgard, where she spends most of the movie. Scenese intermittently shift to Jane's assistants conducting their "research" in London, a location chosen presumably because New York has been destroyed enough by Marvel Comics movies already.

Thor: The Dark World has fleeting moments of inspiration, but ultimately they mean little. Several shots are rather pretty, but the effects by and large are the sort that will look dated in five years. Director Alan Taylor attempts to explore the sibling rivalry between Thor and Loki, but it doesn't amount to much, particularly when it comes to the "twist" ending that is both no surprise and lacking in much sense. Apparently, in typical Marvel fashion, there are scenes after the credits, but I was too bored to care.

thor- the dark world

Overall: C+
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