Gone are the earthbound pleasures of a superhero amid us mortals. Such was the joy of the “Spider-Man” movies and the first “Thor,” when Chris Hemsworth's hammer-wielding Norse warrior, exiled to Earth, so happily encountered a cup of coffee for the first time.
As Marvel's latest 3-D behemoth, “Thor: The Dark World” isn't so much a sequel as the latest plug-and-play into the comic book company's blockbuster algorithm. It's a reliably bankable formula of world-saving action sequences, new villain introductions and clever quips from women on the side (and they are always off to the side).
Thor has spent the last two years restoring order to the nine realms of the cosmos, but just as peace settles, a previously locked-away dark energy called the Aether seeps out. It leaks into Portman's astrophysicist, Jane Foster, awakening a previously vanquished species of Dark Elves, led by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston). They would like to see the universe returned to complete darkness.
To save Life As We Know It, Thor seeks help from his duplicitous adoptive brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Hiddleston's sneering Loki remains one of the finest Marvel antagonists, and — now with a starring role in three films — the franchise seems to value him (as it should) as much as his more heroic brother.
Ardent fans (who should stay through the credits) will likely be satiated by the pleasing enough “Thor: The Dark World.” But perhaps at this point, even diehards may wish for something more from a Marvel equation that often subtracts humanity.
Film review'Thor: The Dark World'
What: Chris Hemsworth stars as comic book hero Thor as he tries to save the universe from a dark energy seeking to wipe out life.
Where playing: Carmike-Dupont, Carmike-Jefferson Pointe, Carmike-Jefferson Pointe IMAX, Cinema Grill, Coldwater, Huntington 7, Strand in Kendallville
Running time: 1 hour, 51 minutes
Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content.
2 stars out of four