Chris Hemsworth is pretty, I’ll admit that. Pretty enough where he is becoming another Matthew McConaughey, where he is required at least one gratuitous shirtless scene in each movie (because, see, it would be simply a waste if he didn’t). But, well, no matter all his deep-voiced bellowing, he just isn’t the most dynamic of actors to hold one’s attention for two hours.
Thor: The Dark World introduces, well, a dark world (I suppose) into the Thor mythology. See, apparently there was the long ago story of a substance called Aether, that looks a lots like blood splashing in slow motion, that once gave a nasty race of bat-men (as in, they look like white bat-boys with flat black Orphan Annie eyes) all-consuming power. These bat-men were somehow beaten, and so no one else could hold such power, the Aether was hidden. Well, of course through an accident that involves worlds lining up and wormholes opening, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) now houses the Aether in her, um, chi or something. Lead bat-boy Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) has awakened, and want the Aeather. Because he is evil, and wants to destroy all the things.
In the meantime, Jane’s delicate Aether condition causes Thor to show up in her life after being scarce and being off in space for two years on his planet. Bad boyfriend. Murmurs are made about “what happened in New York”, which is probably only in there to explain why Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is locked up, but there is not much knowledge required to know that the blond brother is the good one, and the black-haired adopted brother is the bad one.
Thor: the Dark World spends a lot of time jumping from Thor’s planet Asgard, which looks like a leftover set from Lord of the Rings given a splash of celestial design, and Earth, where the motley crew of science-y sidekicks drop cans of product placement pop through neighborhood wormholes for kicks. Everything inevitably leads to a big showdown that simultaneously flips from world to world, which is a clever way to really prolong a fist fight. Oh, and this time we get to see London monuments ripped apart (woo!).
Clocking in at two hours, The Dark World feels kind of long. Part of the problem is that someone who could be deliciously naughty like Eccleson is given nothing much to do except blink through alien contacts. And Loki isn’t really allowed to play until the extended finale. That leaves us with brooding Thor, who is apparently not the party boy he used to be in the first movie because he is pining for an Earth girl. Bo-ring.
There is enough in Thor to keep you relatively entertained, for what it is. But in the pantheon of Marvel heroes, this is the weakest series. Thor’s man-breasts, as impressive as they are, just aren’t enough to keep me engaged.