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Movie Review: ‘Thor: The Dark World’ Suffers from Bland Characters and a Hard-to-Follow Plot

by Bob Garver

Nov. 11, 2013. I believe Thor to be the second most popular of the Avengers, and here’s the breakdown. Iron Man is the most popular; his solo franchise is already at three movies, they get the best reviews and make the most money. Hawkeye and Black Widow are the least popular since neither has been asked to carry a film yet. The incredible Hulk probably went into the “Avengers” franchise as the most popular, but his solo films have been plagued by bad reviews and casting changes. 

And this may be my opinion, but Captain America is lame and I think people are onto him. I’m sorry, but I just can’t get behind a superhero that got his powers from taking questionable injections.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is the second most popular because his films’ releases feel like the second-biggest events (he’s the only one other than Iron Man to be granted an opening in the coveted first-weekend-in-May slot). It also doesn’t hurt that his series contributed the official villain for “The Avengers” in his adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston). It is therefore no surprise that “Thor: The Dark World” dominated the box office this past weekend despite being largely unimpressive.

The new film sees the universe under attack from a bland villain named Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), who is trying to obtain a powerful weapon that will destroy everything in the world, allowing him to conquer all the nothing he wants. Thor, meanwhile, wiles away his days enforcing peace on various planets with the help of his trusty hammer before going home to his planet Asgard. He’s doing good work, even earning the approval of his withholding father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), but he isn’t happy. 

Some of this has to do with family drama triggered by Loki’s imprisonment, but mostly it’s because he misses his girlfriend Jane (Natalie Portman). Luckily, he gets an excuse to go to Earth and see her when she stumbles across the weapon that Malekith is seeking. The weapon inhabits Jane’s body and Thor takes her to Asgard for medical attention. 

Malekith invades Asgard and Kidnaps Jane, so Thor has to stop him for three reasons: 1) to save his girlfriend 2) to save the world, and 3) for revenge. The third part even motivates Loki to join him, though its pretty evident that his brother can’t be trusted. 

The plot is hard to follow and it really shouldn’t be. It’s not like the film is truly concerned with developing its characters or universe, it’s just Thor being Thor and saving the world from the threat du jour. 

Personality has been sucked from all but three characters, one of whom (a friend of Jane’s played by Kat Dennings) is super annoying, another which is good for a few scenes before making a grand exit, and Loki. Yes, Loki has gone from the wimpy villain in Thor to being the wimpy villain in “The Avengers” to actually being a decent character. His lines and jokes provide more entertainment that anyone else’s and there’s a surprising emotional impact to a scene where he just doesn’t feel like playing a trick. 

“Thor: The Dark World” has three things going for it: Loki, a Viking funeral, and the choice of venue for the final battle. Other than that, it’s a routine and charmless superhero movie. It adds little to “Avengers” lore, yet fans will have to see it strictly for continuity. Its release comes only six months after “Iron Man 3” and only five months before “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” The world clearly isn’t going to lose interest in the Avengers anytime soon, and with success so certain, can you blame the various entries for making increasingly weak efforts?

One and a half stars out of five.