‘Thor: The Dark World’ shows Marvel should keep things fresh

Chris Hemsworth and Anthony Hopkins in ‘Thor: The Dark World.’ Rated PG-13, 112 min. Walt Disney Studios, 2013.

“Thor: The Dark World” reunites “God of Thunder” Thor (Chris Hemsworth) with scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), when she is in peril from the age-old weapon called the Aether. “Dark elf” Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) wants to get his hands on it to do… something not made clear. No matter – good old-fashioned fights and half-hearted romance still dependably sell lots of movie tickets. There is solid action, and the jokes fans expect, but a few surprises don’t feel plausible, even in the comic book fantasy/sci-fi genre.

There is a major shift in tone from Thor’s first outing to this one, set largely in the cave-like realm of Asgard. Gone is the novel, fish-out-of-water fun of seeing an otherworldly warrior try to make sense of our own culture. The comic relief here instead comes from Kat Dennings as the wide-eyed intern Darcy, and a brief superhero cameo.

The film furthers the overall Marvel story, but just barely (stay through the credits, as usual). “The Dark World” is mostly a side track to flesh out the rocky relationship of Thor and his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), but after “Thor” and “The Avengers” both tackled that, it feels like time to move on.

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