By Leonard Maltin | Leonard Maltin November 8, 2013 at 1:08PM
I can’t predict what Marvel fans will make of the second
movie showcasing Thor, the Norse hero with the mighty hammer. It lacks the
heavy-handedness of the first film, thank goodness, and tries to retain some of
its loopy humor (involving modern-day earthlings played by Natalie Portman,
Stellan Skarsgård, and Kat Dennings), but the whole thing feels like an excuse
for a movie rather than a story that begged to be told.
It seems that years ago the Dark Elves, led by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), threatened the kingdom of Asgard, and while they were vanquished a small band of survivors still lurk in the wings. And who should discover their long-dormant weapon, a deadly vapor, than Portman in modern-day London? (Why are she and her scientific friends in London? Don’t ask.) This crisis summons Thor to rescue her and the game is on.
The breakout star of the first movie, who truly came into his own in Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, is Tom Hiddleston as Thor’s wicked and vengeful half-brother Loki. Fittingly, he gets all the best moments in The Dark World, and the actor clearly relishes the way his character enjoys being evil. This makes the resolution of the story somewhat inscrutable, not to mention illogical. I dare not reveal any of the details.
Chris Hemsworth is appropriately hunky, Anthony Hopkins is royally grumpy, and other actors like Idris Elba, Rene Russo, and Ray Stevenson do what they can with two-dimensional material. For Marvel fans who love being immersed in that universe, the mere presence of these characters, along with a plethora of visual effects and action may be enough. For me, Thor: The Dark World lacks originality and purpose. One delicious character does not justify a lumbering spectacle.