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Entertainment & Lifestyle

Thor returns in entertaining sequel

11/14/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Craig Marks

Chris Hemsworth is Thor in “Thor: The Dark World.”
Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios
“Thor: The Dark World” is everything the first Thor movie wasn’t. It’s fun. It’s fast moving. The actors seem to be having a good time playing their characters. It’s the difference between “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.”

The main players from the first movie are back, this time under the direction of Alan Taylor rather than Kenneth “Let’s Do Shakespeare in Outer Space” Branagh. As we catch up with the interstellar Viking god Thor (Chris Hemsworth), he’s in his home realm of Asgard and life is good. With his powerful hammer and well-earned swagger, his foes don’t stand much of a chance, and his father, the king (Anthony Hopkins), is ready to hand him the crown.

But there might be a reign delay. Thor’s heart still belongs to Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), the scientist he met in the first movie. (The two didn’t get together when Thor returned to Earth for the “Avengers” film, but, in Thor’s defense, he was a bit busy.)

Thor is also dealing with having an incarcerated family member. His brother, the devious Loki (Tom Hiddleston), is in an impenetrable cell where he’ll spend the rest of his days, or not.

Superhero movies live or die by their villains and the movie’s main baddies, the Dark Elves, don’t make much of an impression. (Christopher Eccleston, who was the ninth incarnation of the Doctor in “Doctor Who,” plays the head elf.) It’s up to Loki to use his “Get out of Asgard Jail Free” card to ensure the movie will be an entertaining ride.

Circumstances lead Thor and Loki to form an uneasy alliance. Thor trusts his brother about as far as he can throw him (or as far as anyone else could throw him), and their odd coupling creates an interesting dynamic. Much of the credit goes to Hiddleston, who brings new dimensions to his fascinating character.

Dimension-wise, Thor is stuck on two. He’s a bulked-up Boy Scout who speaks in exclamation points, but Hemsworth has found a comfort level playing a hero who still is trying to get the hang of life on Earth. It’s not his fault that Miss Manners doesn’t offer tips on what one does with their mighty hammer when visiting friends’ homes.

The plot is pure comic book. Foster discovers some kind of red goo that, in the wrong hands, could destroy worlds. You won’t be discussing its symbolism or discerning its deeper meaning. It’s plot-advancing goo, use only as directed.

The movie has an exciting climax that comes up with a novel way to stage the latest ultimate battle. It neatly wraps up “The Dark World,” a movie that isn’t life changing but gives you what you expect and maybe a little more. Perhaps the best praise I could give it is that it’s the first superhero movie I’ve seen in a while that I wouldn’t mind seeing again.

The movie, currently in theaters, is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content.

Three Stars (out of four)

 

Craig Marks is a cartoonist and editorial, sports and entertainment writer for the West Side Leader.

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