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‘Thor’ fails to live up to predecessor

 

“Thor: The Dark World” is a film more concerned with getting to its next installment than dealing with the here and now.  

Somehow, the people at Marvel thought it was best to strip away all the likeable facets of its characters from the first film and instead put more emphasis on a plot that seems ripped from every bad episode of “Battlestar Galactica” put together. Chris Hemsworth returns with blonde hair extensions as the dumb jock in a Viking helmet, Thor, ready to wave that unstoppable hammer. 

The first glimpse of our hero is in battle, as Thor strives to protect the nine realms of his outer space home of Asgard. His multicultural posse returns with bigger beards and shorter skirts as they battle a large creature made of rock. We know how the story goes: Thor conquers all and is the keeper of peace in medieval times.

Like the first film, “Thor: The Dark World” begins with a prologue that sets the audience on its way toward conflict and action – action that appears messy and chaotic. 

A powerful energy source called Aether is kept hidden for thousands of years from the Dark Elves’ leader, Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), who wishes to use it once again to destroy the world. 

Fortunately for the audience, the Aether is unleashed and makes its home inside whiz-kid scientist Jane Foster played by Natalie Portman. Thor gets wind of this mysterious substance threatening the realms and his love interest and returns to Earth for Jane after two years. 

Against the wishes of Odin, played by a portly Anthony Hopkins, Thor returns to Asgard with Jane and the substance that is brewing inside her. Malekith found his moment to seize what belongs to him. 

The red-eyed elf may seem like a villain who can stand toe-to-toe with the almighty Thor but that notion is soon quashed as we get a cut-and-paste barrage of sounds and visual effects that make Scooby Doo cartoons look innovative. His malicious demeanor is almost comical, and perhaps Thor knows what the audience doesn’t: This elf will be on the shelf in no time. 

Kenneth Branagh brought a fine balance to the first film, “Thor,” as director.  

It helps if along the way you bring the Shakespeare playbook with you: With enough humor and debonair action, Branagh was able to bring the “fish out of water” element  from a tale as old as “Henry V,” and make it fresh and believable. 

This time, Alan Taylor, who has directed a handful of “Game of Thrones” episodes, stepped in and brought almost nothing from that show’s brilliance into his latest creation. 

The actors do their best with the material given to them. 

Hemsworth and Portman clearly have the chemistry, and it is fun when Thor returns to the mortal world.  Upon entering Jane’s London flat, Thor is greeted by her hipster intern Darcy (Kat Dennings) and mentor Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard). Thor enters and hangs his hammer on a coat hook. This moment, as well as every scene that Thor’s turncoat brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is in, are the few glimpses of redemption that save “Thor: The Dark World” from the same barrels of rubbish that “Green Lantern” and “Daredevil” live in. 

Perhaps some Aether from the filmmakers would have made “Thor: The Dark World” transcend the original. But hey, what are sequels for. In fact, go ask Iron Man. 

Fans of the Marvel world will want to stick around as the credits roll with two scenes that foreshadow what the audience can expect from the juggernaut now owned by that mouse we call Mickey. 

Grade:C-