By Gary Dean Murray

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Tim Hiddleston

Written by Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely

Directed by Alan Taylor

Running time 112 min

MPAA Rating PG-13

Selig Film Rating Matinee

The first Thor feature was not one of my favorite films of 2011.  The Kenneth Branagh directed film was too long and didn’t hold much interest.  Of the four films of The Avengers saga, it was the weakest entry.  Thor: The Dark World is the sequel.

The film starts with a preamble that explains who the Dark Elves are in a giant battle between the gods and the Kursed.  Their leader is Malekith and he wants to bring the worlds back into darkness.  It achieve this, he needs something called Aether, which is a blood red floating fluid.  After Malekith loses this massive CGI battle, the story begins.

The basic plot takes place two years after the first film and after The Avengers adventure.  Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has been to the other worlds, battling bad guys to bring peace to the Nine Realms.   His brother Loki (Tim Hiddleston) is imprisoned for his acts in The Avengers.

Back on earth, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is trying to get on with her life.  As she goes on a date, her assistant Darcy (Kat Dennings) interrupts.  The team has found an abnormality in an industrial area of London.  The laws of physics do not apply to this locale.  It seems to be a convergence point of the alignment of the Nine Realms, something that happens every 5,000 years.  This is the point where the Aether is discovered, which goes inside Jane.  When someone touches Jane, she releases a ton of energy.

Thor arrives and is slapped in the face by Jane.  She is mad that he would try and save nine worlds rather than be with her.  Sensing that the Aether inside of Jane is dangerous and deadly, Thor takes Jane to Asgard to be healed.  The Kursed know this and begins an attack.  There the devastation begins and Loki makes his move to ascension. 

A film such as this is not so much about plot and acting as it is about destruction and images being leveled.  Director Alan Taylor is basically a television director who is given a shot at features.  He knows where his focus needs to be, not on great acting but on spectacle.  Taylor serves his audience exactly what it expects.

Taylor delivers with ships that look like flying daggers and the eventual destruction of yet another city.  He gives the spectators exactly what it wants, loads of explosions and mayhem.  If this were two centuries earlier, Taylor would be the guy feeding Christians to the lions for the spectators at the Coliseum.  Eventually the conflicts wash over the audience more like waves crashing against a sea wall.  

Chris Hemsworth cannot act his way out of a paper bag.  He is getting better with each outing but he is still as stiff as two tons of steel.  He truly needs to take a page from the Christopher Reeves reading of Superman and embrace the absurdity of being more than human.  But, he looks great, just like the god he is to portray. 

Easily the most interesting character is Loki and Tim Hiddleston truly does justice to the role.  He is wicked and smarmy while still being charming.  He has one steadfast goal, to be worshiped as a god.  There are rumors on the internet that there will be a separate Loki adventure.  If it comes to fruitarian, it will be one of the most interesting films from the Marvel universe.

Natalie Portman is an Oscar winner who seems to be doing these films for the paycheck.  There is this gleam in her eyes that seems to reflect the silliness of the events revolving around her.  She seems to be enjoying herself with this slight role, hamming it up with such stalwarts as Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo.   

Since Disney has taken over Marvel, there is one constant in this relationship.  Disney will run the Marvel universe into the ground in order to make as much money as possible.  This is not so much as a film as it is a cash cow.  It is entertainment not cinema.   It is much better than the first outing but that is not saying much.  It is not The Avengers.   

Last thing, there are two ending tags—one midway during the credits and one after the last credit has rolled.  They makers set it up the next adventure. 

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