Let’s Get Hammered

Is Tom Hiddleston the new Robert Downey Jr.?

by Jorge Ignacio Castillo 

Thor

Thor: The Dark World
Galaxy, Southland
3 out of 5

Marvel’s efforts to establish a superhero movie universe as iconic as the one they created in their comics are commendable, but the attempt is starting to show some strain. Each movie carries an unavoidable level of baggage needed to establish connections and continuity, and the strategy has never felt as forced and clunky as it does in Thor: The Dark World.

That’s not to say the Thor sequel is a bad movie: in fact, it’s tremendously entertaining.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his comrades have finally brought peace to the last of the nine realms. But the harmony is short-lived: some vicious creatures known as dark elves have awakened, and they’re bent on destroying the universe. (Of course they are.) The weapon they need to do so is a primordial substance of enormous destructive power known as aether, which somehow lands inside Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Thor’s love interest. (Of course it does.)

The elves do some serious damage — enough to inspire Thor to get his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) out of captivity. The princes of Aasgard may be a better match against the invaders, but their distrust for each other makes the whole enterprise a highly volatile affair.

Throughout, director Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones) caters to the geek world more than any of the previous helmers of Marvel properties. Chris Hemsworth is increasingly comfortable as Thor, and Natalie Portman brings more than a pretty face, but neither of them are a match for Hiddleston, who steals every scene he’s in as the bitter, scheming Loki.

Ironically, that’s actually a problem for the film: next to Loki, the dark elves seem like simple malcontents.

Towards the end, Thor: The Dark World loses its nerve and brings the action back to Earth, in spite of the superb action set-pieces in Aasgard. How many times can Marvel use the same stakes? “Earth is in danger!” “Oh, really? It must be Thursday.”

2013-11-14

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