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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Thor: The Dark World (3-D) | Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Christopher Eccleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Renee Russo | Review

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3 Chicks SmallJacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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Thor: The Dark World  (3-D) | Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Christopher Eccleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Renee Russo | Review

It’s hammer time again and the golden prince of Asgard, two years post-Avengers battle, must take on a new/old foe, a dark elf called Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) whose mission is to plunge the Nine Realms into darkness with himself as supreme ruler.  Power madness runs rampant with villains of the Marvel universe, it seems.  

The embodiment of this dark force is the Aether, a malevolent mass of writhing, smoky tentacles that takes up residence inside physicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).   What it is doing housed in an industrial park in London is anyone’s guess, but it brings Thor (Chris Hemsworth) down from Asgard to whisk her away to his hometown to meet (step)mom and pop and plan a defensive strategy.  You know, the usual boyfriend/girlfriend, save the universe stuff.

Bringing Jane back to Asgard, Thor introduces his mortal morsel to King Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and Queen Frigga (Renee Russo) just in time for an attack by Malekith’s forces, known as the Kursed, who fly around in what look like huge vertical wrenches.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is confined to a high-tech cell for his villainous behavior during the previous earth battle (fought by the Avengers).  The raven-haired, smirking shape-shifter is charismatic and not to be trusted, but half-brother Thor needs him to thwart Malekith, and so Loki roams free once more, a dark, double-crossing force himself.

Thor and Jane continue to be smitten with each other, although Jane is also smitten with the Aether inside her, a nasty entity that takes away the whites of her eyes so you always know when she is Bad Jane.

The inevitable battle takes place on Earth, in Greenwich, UK, messing up some venerable historic buildings along the way.  There are portals and visits to other realms, but it’s just not an action film if things on Earth aren’t decimated – and Earth is a place where Thor is considered a superhero.  Back on Asgard, he’d probably be evenly matched with sentry Heimdall (Idris Elba), a powerful guardian in his own right; better to highlight his superior abilities when compared to puny mortals on their home turf.

Reprising their roles and adding comic relief are Jane’s intern Darcy (Kat Dennings) and Professor Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård).  Darcy is a veritable fountain of one-liners and Selvig has become either an eccentric, clothes-shedding loon or a wise seer full of premonitions and warnings that should be heeded but won’t be.

Since he is the title character, you’d think Thor would be featured as more than simply a co-star in the ensemble of characters, yet he seems to be a passenger on his own train.  Loki is more compelling, Jane seems superfluous, and Malekith is just some pesky fly in the ointment, more of a diversion than a real threat.  Odin’s eyepatch nearly matches our hero’s face time.

Hemsworth cuts a fine Norse figure, a little more battle-worn here than we’ve seen him.  Portman is once again a damsel in distress, her character’s Ph.D. logic shanghaied by carnal distractions.  Hiddleston commands every scene he’s in, a fascinating character portrayed by a charismatic actor, mixing angel and devil in ever-changing proportions.

Hopkins and Elba are duly solemn, Skarsgård’s Selvig is reduced to a mere eccentric, and Dennings’ constant wisecracks become tiresome, hitting the mark only a small percentage of the time.  Eccleston's Malekith is underdeveloped with little screen time, but that's not his fault.

Director Alan Taylor (The Emperor’s New Clothes) and a quartet of writers including Christopher Markus (Captain America: The First Avenger) veer around the universe with multiple characters and plotlines, never really focusing on Thor as the protagonist; he’s just another character in the mix, which is 1. odd and 2. unsatisfying.  What does hit the mark is cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau’s otherworldly visuals, vibrant eye candy episodes that don’t need the 3-D effect to be effective.

Yes, Stan Lee makes an appearance.  Yes, there are not one but two post-credit teasers.  Be patient.  A surprise ending guarantees the continuation of the franchise.

Maybe next time they’ll nail it.

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