Sunday, November 10, 2013

Review: Thor: The Dark World

Image courtesy of Walt Disney Studios.
I gotta be honest here. I'm pretty tired of men in tight-fitting uniforms saving the world. And I'm a little sick of movies in which a portal in the sky threatens to open and swallow up all humanity. And a little tired of origin stories. And elves. And opening prologues in voice-over during which the Very Serious nature of the proceedings to come are explained. And movies referencing other movies in which the same characters appear for the sake of brand identity.

"Thor: The Dark World," you may not be surprised to find out, includes all of the above, with the exception that the film's elves are, in fact, referred to as "dark elves." So, at least, there's that.

The film, which is directed by "Game of Thrones" regular Alan Taylor, is probably the umpteenth comic book movie I've seen this year and, most likely at this time next year, I'll be able to refer to it as "10 comic book movies ago," based on the rate at which the studios are releasing them.

In the vast empire of superhero movies, "The Dark World" falls somewhere in the middle. It's not as awful as some ("Catwoman" anyone?) or an example of jaw dropping bad taste ("Kick Ass") or even an ambitious failure ("Watchmen"). And it's certainly not a success, such as the first two of Christopher Nolan's "Batman" franchise.

No, "Thor: The Dark World" is satisfied with doing exactly what you'd expect it to do and nothing more. The film introduces a new villain (Christopher Eccleston), whose name (Malekith) and subtitled language (Dark Elvian, perhaps) seem better suited to a "Lord of the Rings" sequel. And the explanation of why he and his band of sinister marauders are threatening not just one planet, but two, is about as well-thought-out as a subplot from one of Michael Bay's "Transformer" movies.

Suffice it to say: Thor to the rescue! Chris Hemsworth is amiable enough as the lead and he appears to bring a certain sense of irony to the self-seriousness of the whole endeavor. Natalie Portman, on the other hand, is given the thankless task of playing the damsel - and scientist - in distress. Tom Hiddleston reprises his role as Loki and Anthony Hopkins is back as Odin, father to Thor and king of Asgard.

But let's be honest: At this point, all of the "Thor," "Iron Man," "Captain America" and "Hulk" movies past, present and - most likely - future serve to act as reminders that, hey kids!, another "Avengers" movie is on the way.

"Thor: The Dark World" isn't so much bad as it is unnecessary and formulaic.

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