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Forced ‘Thor: The Dark World’ Sequel Lacks Passion, Sci-Fi Basis

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Rating: 2.5/5.0

CHICAGO – For me and the subculture as a whole, so much of science fiction came from “Star Trek”. If creator Gene Roddenberry were alive today to witness “Thor: The Dark World,” he’d tell it to focus on being a superhero film rather than failing to dabble in science fiction.

Accidentally slipping into nine dimensional realms with no ability to control the warp feels like sci-fi peppered in for dramatic effect without any logical basis in actual science fiction. While a key plot line of this film is that nine realms are converging, sci-fi is best left for programs that have a true understanding and basis in it.

Chris Hemsworth as Thor in Thor: The Dark World
Chris Hemsworth as Thor in “Thor: The Dark World”.
Image credit: Marvel Studios

Failed sci-fi aside, what we have here is a barely passable sequel because of the rest of what it is rather than what it fails to be. From high-budget Marvel movies, we’ve come to expect the ability to glaze our eyes over and shut our brains down as we pop popcorn in our mouth, sip on a bucket of soda and bite off strawberry licorice.

We can with “Thor: The Dark World” while being relatively satisfied that the story’s lore has been furthered since the Chris Hemsworth show two years ago. Just don’t overthink things too much – and accept this popcorn flick for all that it is – because that’s where the film will fall apart.

For example, Thor can spin his hammer fast enough and fly like Superman as if it allows him to helicopter. That’s about the most ridiculous Norse mythology I’ve ever witnessed.

Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Thor: The Dark World
Tom Hiddleston as Loki in “Thor: The Dark World”.
Image credit: Jay Maidment, Marvel Studios

With the weight of nine realms weighing on him and his dad (Anthony Hopkins as Odin) to win over and his brother (Tom Hiddleston as Loki) to try to trust and his human girlfriend (Natalie Portman as Jane Foster) to try to convince audiences he actually has any chemistry with, Thor randomly does this “hammer helicopter” to fly from a standstill for no apparent reason. It feels as out of place as a Democratic version of George Bush appearing in the film to show you how to Rainbow Loom.

There’s no real love story between the omnipotent Thor – who makes sure to sneak in a shirtless scene so you can see his back has muscles layered upon impossible layers of muscles – and this Plain Jane who attempts to convince you she’s a scientist. Being infected with the Aether is as forced as anything could be in a film that just needs to give importance to her for the sake of handing our hero someone to protect.

Bor (father of Thor’s father Odin) clashed with the alien-speaking dark elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) eons ago. Our villain Malekith is hungry for global domination, of course, and wants to shift the light of the world back into darkness. He plans to destroy the universe using the Aether. The Aether gets safeguarded within a stone column on Earth – why would it be there? – until one day Plain Jane happens to bump into it. So, the powerful red liquid now courses through her veins.

The Accursed in Thor: The Dark World
The Accursed in “Thor: The Dark World”.
Image credit: Marvel Studios

Thor has about as much chemistry with Jane as I would for a dead mouse. His paternal instinct feels like he’s trying to save any human vessel that just happens to have in it the stuff the film needs to keep from the bad guy. You don’t feel any of the film’s passion. You should be nervously picking your nails and ticking your head and hanging on at the edge of your seat because, you know, it’s potentially the end of the world again. But you won’t feel the slightest bit emotionally invested.

As was the case in 2011, Loki once again proves to be the most interesting and memorable character. This time, Tom Hiddleston describes Loki as a “firework”. What unpredictable thing will he do next? Does he have remorse and regret or is he without care? He thinks of himself as “absolved from playing hero or villain. I’m just the live wire. And that was more fun than I can possibly tell you.” Yes, he’s one character in this otherwise just-OK film whose fun you can actually feel.

“Thor: The Dark World” does succeed in some random moments of comedy – including one-liners such as Thor boarding the London Underground at Charing Cross station and asking a commuter if it’s the correct train to Greenwich. Chris Hemsworth also improvises politely hanging his hammer (the Mjolnir) on a coat hook after playing with it between takes.

Natalie Portman as Jane Foster in Thor: The Dark World
Natalie Portman as Jane Foster in “Thor: The Dark World”.
Image credit: Jay Maidment, Marvel Studios

A few of the film’s supporting roles are more memorable than all of its stars. Kat Dennings – star of TV’s “2 Broke Girls” – is perfectly cast in a genuinely funny and refreshing supporting role as Jane’s friend Darcy Lewis. And the free-balling, tighty-whitie loving Stellan Skarsgård is a delightful return as the kooky scientist Erik Selvig. Erik is the only ounce of believable science in the film. Even a brief date between Jane and Richard (Chris O’Dowd, the cop in “Bridesmaids”) is enjoyable.

I could have done entirely without Rene Russo as Thor’s mom, Frigga. But the film does make good use of a few cameos. Look for Stan Lee and his usual one line in a bar and even Loki’s morph into Chris Evans as Captain America.

As always, make sure you stay after the credits for a “Guardians of the Galaxy” teaser that’s nothing more than a big-business bridge to “The Avengers 2” and later “The Avengers 3”. It’s got to carry the $170 million film to the next phase in the Marvel universe so there can be a next phase. In release for just one day so far, the Thor sequel has already drummed up $141 million globally thanks to a $109 million foreign start.

“Thor: The Dark World” stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Eccleston, Jaimie Alexander, Zachary Levi, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, Idris Elba, Rene Russo, Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgard from director Alan Taylor and writers Christopher Yost and Christopher Markus. The film, which opened on Nov. 8, 2013, has a run time of 112 minutes and is rated “PG-13” for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence and some suggestive content.

HollywoodChicago.com publisher Adam Fendelman


© 2013 Adam Fendelman, HollywoodChicago.com LLC

none's picture

As soon as I saw that you

As soon as I saw that you started this report by thinking you could speak for Gene Roddenberry I knew I didn’t need to read the rest of it.

Anakin Skywalker 's picture

Weak Villain?

Dear goodness, you didn’t touch on how utterly PATHETIC Malekith the Accursed was. I haven’t been this upset with a portrayal of a superhero villain since the Green Goblin in Spiderman 3 and Mandarin in Iron Man 3. Malekith trumps both of them in terms of lameness. He could’ve had a tragic, interesting backstory or at least had a bloody personality. But, nope. Christopher Eccleston (poor dude) was wasted. How about less Loki and more villain and Thor/Jane plot? I really didn’t like this movie. The first one was much better (and that’s not saying much because the first one was convoluted and boring).

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