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Overall Rating

Awesome: 10.34%
Worth A Look41.38%
Just Average: 10.34%
Pretty Crappy: 10.34%
Sucks: 27.59%

2 reviews, 17 user ratings

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Thor: The Dark World
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by Peter Sobczynski

1 stars

Truth be told, I don't really remember much about "Thor," the first big-screen adventure of the second-tier Marvel superhero of Nordic origin who vanquished his enemies with his mighty hammer and mightier blonde locks, other than the fact that it was directed, inexplicably, by Kenneth Branagh and co-starred, even more inexplicably, Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins is roles that actors of their award-winning caliber would generally pass on once upon a time unless they were hurting for money. If I had to place it somewhere on the grand scheme of superhero movies ranging from the genius of "The Dark Knight" and "Superman" to such cinematic groin pulls as "The Green Lantern" and the "Fantastic Four" series entire, my guess is that it probably belongs somewhere smack in the middle--neither good enough to look back at with fondness and neither bad enough to scar one's psyche a la "Batman & Robin."

Between the kazillions made by the original "Thor" as well as "The Avengers," in which the character turned up as part of the superhero equivalent of the Traveling Wilburys, it was inevitable that this generation's Bronk Drywall would return to the screen like a well-oiled swan to Capistrano. With the arrival of "Thor: The Dark World," that time has come and if nothing else, my guess is that it will not fade from memory as quickly as the previous one did. After all, one is not likely to soon forget the experience of sitting through a film so noisy, so boring and so very, very pointless unless they are undergoing some radical form of intense psychotherapy and even then, it would be a tossup. Granted, I didn't exactly go into this with elevated expectations but it nevertheless failed to clear even the decidedly low bar that I set for it and even those who have actually been waiting with bated breath to see another Thor film are almost certainly going to slink away from this one questioning their goals in life.

Like so many films of this sort, "Thor: The Dark World" opens with one of those bewildering prologues that barely allow viewers to don their 3D glasses before socking them with gobs of lugubriously written backstory that may mean something to those who have studied the comic books with the intensity of a Talmudic scholar but which will leave everyone else scratching their heads in utter confusion. It seems that eons ago, the Nine Realms of the universe were threatened by a race of Dark Elves, led by the fiendish Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), who plotted to plunge the whole shebang into eternal darkness with the aid of an all-powerful energy source known as the Aether. At the last second, the forces of Asgard defeated the Dark Elves, though Malekith managed to escape, and destroyed the Aether to save the day. Well, not quite--it seems that the Aether was impossible to destroy so the Asgards hid it away where it could never again be found. (At this point, most right-thinking viewers will have already checked out on the basis that any film that introduces Dark Elves in the very first sentence of the opening narration may not exactly be their cup of tea.)

From there, the story picks up in the wake of "The Avengers" as Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Asgard's favorite son, tours the Nine Realms (which mostly appear to have been named by Don Martin) to bring an end to the chaos brought about by his bad seed brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who is now imprisoned and the source of much consternation for his father, King Odin (Hopkins), and mother Frigga (Rene Russo). Meanwhile, back on Earth, cutie-pie astrophysicist Jane Foster (Portman) is heartbroken by the fact that Thor just took off a couple of years earlier, presumably without leaving a note, and didn't even bother to drop by for coffee when he was in New York saving the world during the stopgap movie. Now in London, Jane and snarky intern Darcy (Kat Dennings) are investigating a new series of anomalies that lead them to a block of flats that appears to contain an inter-dimensional wormhole. Inevitably, Jane gets drawn inside the wormhole and has an encounter with the Aether that ends with it inhabiting her body (and after seeing "Closer," can you blame it?).

Suspecting that something is wrong with Jane, Thor makes a beeline for Earth for a reunion and when she begins giving off energy pulses that are like a cross between static electricity and several sticks of dynamite, he whisks her back to Asgard in the hopes of helping her, much to the consternation of Odin when he realizes what is inside her. At the same time, Malekith picks up on the new home of the Aether and begins to lay siege to Asgard in the hopes of retrieving it and finally completing his diabolical scheme. Forced into an Aether-or situation, Thor reluctantly enlists the aid of the duplicitous Loki in an effort to remove Jane's intruder and destroy it, along with Malekith, before it can fall into the wrong hands. And wouldn't you know it, all of this is happening at the time of the grand convergence of the Realms and the Aether's powers are multiplied as a result.

Although I may not be much of a fanatic for comic book movies, I am perfectly willing to go along for cheerfully ludicrous spectacles as long as they deliver the goods with a certain degree of style, humor and visual panache. None of these qualities, nor much of anything else that could legitimately be described using the word "quality," are in any evidence in "Thor: The Dark World." The plot is junk--nothing more than a lot of wheel-spinning in which orgies of senseless special effects (all rendered muddy by the unneeded and unwanted 3D) are tied together with the most perfunctory exposition whatsoever and generate absolutely no discernible signs of suspense or tension. (If the film itself can't seem to get particularly excited by the destruction of the entire fricking universe, how can it expect viewers the develop any interest in the prospect either?) Alan Taylor makes his feature directorial debut here after a small--screen career that has seen him work on such acclaimed shows as "The Sopranos," "Boardwalk Empire" and "Game of Thrones" but without the Grade-A material he was lucky to stumble into on those occasions, he seems adrift and can only plod through the paces in the most faceless and anonymous manner possible. As a result, even though the film only clocks in at a little under two hours (including a pair of deeply irritating post-credit cookies), it feels as though it goes on for an entire Asgardian lifetime.

The only time the film gets any sort of charge is when Tom Hiddleston turns up as the supremely sardonic, though not entirely unsympathetic, Loki--he is so much more interesting than anyone else on display that I would vastly prefer to see a spin-off focused on him than on a potential "Thor 3" in a heartbeat. As Thor, Hemsworth is hunky enough but without even the slim dregs of a arc that he was afforded in the first film, both he and his character come across as nothing more than good-looking bores. As for Portman, I continue to remain baffled as to why she would want to sign on for junk like this having already played the fantasy extravaganza game to increasingly unhappy returns with the "Star Wars" prequels. At least in those films, she occasionally got to shoot a laser or die in childbirth but here, she has little more to do than play The Girl--the most profound bit of dialogue that she is afforded comes during the point where, for reasons not worth getting into, she winds up repeating the phrase "sea bass" something like 14 times in a row. Meanwhile, returning players like Skarsgard, Dennings and Elba, a.k.a. The-Man-Who-Will-Never-Become-James-Bond-No-Matter-What-That-Hipster-Blogger-Would-Have-You Believe-Otherwise, are wasted in nothing parts that all but scream "Contractual Obligation" and Eccleston just looks embarrassed throughout despite the tons of makeup that have been caked onto him. As for the mystifyingly wasted presences of Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo, all I can say is that while sitting around in their goofy costumes between takes, I hope and pray that one turned to the other and said "Well, we'll always have 'Freejack.'"

I realize that it would be a bit silly to apply the same rigorous critical standards that I might have used on something like "Blue is the Warmest Color" to a film like "Thor: The Dark World" would be quite silly (although not entirely unfair since both technically have their origins in the comics.) However, as recent films like the Christopher Nolan Batman series, "The Avengers" and "X-Men: First Class" have proven, a comic book movie can be just as smart and entertaining as any other type of film as long as it is in the hands of people who are trying to give viewers more than two hours of empty cinematic calories. "Thor: The Dark World," on the other hand, appears to have been brought into existence for one reason and one reason only--to make a ton of money at the box-office--and in that regards, it will almost certainly prove to be a success (if only because it is pretty much the only big-ticket item hitting theaters until the arrival of the "Hunger Games" sequel in a couple of weeks). If you own stock in Marvel, this will no doubt fill you with a sense of equal parts excitement and delight. If you are just an ordinary sap hoping for a superhero saga that doesn't treat viewers like slow-witted idiots in need of constant distraction via big explosions and the like, your response may well vary considerably.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=22644&reviewer=389
originally posted: 11/07/13 15:31:46
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User Comments

2/13/17 morris campbell good sequel 4 stars
12/29/14 zenny If I had a hammer, I'd... yawn 2 stars
10/01/14 Horror Lover Has its moments and Hiddlestoston owns.,but they need to dump the earth stuff. 3 stars
9/02/14 Dude Shamelessly silly 2 stars
7/31/14 Crank Awful awful 1 stars
12/13/13 gil carlson Very well done. If you're a critic who doesn't like SH genre, then stay home. 4 stars
12/06/13 Pearl Bogdan I have seen worse super hero films 3 stars
12/05/13 mr.mike They throw in the kitchen sink but it's good. 4 stars
12/05/13 Flipsider Really bland, lazy script, boring, silly, but has a few laughs. 2 stars
12/04/13 damalc was that Thor or a Star Wars sequel? 3 stars
11/22/13 Lord One of the worst movies ever 1 stars
11/17/13 Chris Mckenzie For Asgard! Great flick 4 stars
11/15/13 Sarah Quinn Great movie. I recommend watching it. 4 stars
11/14/13 Charles Tatum Awesome spectacle, better than the first film 4 stars
11/13/13 Randy J Im not sure what movie some of these other people were watching but I loved it! 5 stars
11/10/13 Darkstar Great action and some good laughs when one of the other avengers showed up. 5 stars
11/09/13 KingNeutron Loved it, almost as good as Avengers. Some good emotional scenes. STAY FOR ENTIRE CREDITS! 5 stars
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  08-Nov-2013 (PG-13)
  DVD: 25-Feb-2014

  30-Oct-2013 (12A)

  DVD: 25-Feb-2014

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