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Enjoy Thor: The Dark World for What it is: Mindless Fun

  • Susan Ellingburg Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2013 11 Nov
  • COMMENTS
Enjoy <i>Thor: The Dark World</i> for What it is: Mindless Fun

DVD Release Date: February 25, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: November 8, 2013
Rating:  Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content
Genre:  Action | Adventure | Fantasy
Run Time:  112 minutes
Director: Alan Taylor
Cast:  Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston

There are movies with a message: deep, attitude-changing films that cut straight to the heart and leave us better people for having seen them. But Thor: The Dark World is not one of those films—this one is just for fun. And what a lot of fun it is.

Thor: The Dark World picks up some two years after the original Thor left off. Scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman, Black Swan) and her intrepid intern Darcy (Kat Dennings, Nick and Norah) are in London working on their crazy complicated science project (don't try to understand it; logic is not your friend in this one). While Jane and Thor (Chris Hemsworth, Rush) shared a few tender moments back in the day, she hasn't heard from him in a long time. He doesn't write, he doesn't call... apparently even having a superhero for a boyfriend can't make the course of true love run smoothly. She can't know he's been busy cleaning up the universe and pining away for her. But when Jane stumbles into a portal between worlds and picks up something nasty in the process, the big blonde with the hammer and cape comes zooming down from the sky to rescue her.

Of course, it's not as easy as Thor tries to make it look. There's the little matter of a Dark Elf with a grudge (Christopher Eccleston, The Seeker) who wants to destroy the universe and needs what Jane has in order to do it. Then there are family issues to deal with, like introducing Jane to Thor's parents and what to do about his pesky brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston, War Horse) locked away in the dungeon post-Avengers. But never fear, this is a comic book story and all will come right in the end, though not without some losses along the way.

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Hemsworth is again perfectly cast as the charming, too-gorgeous-to-be-true superhero who wields his supersized hammer with a twinkle in his eye. Whether they're defending the universe or committing acts of treason (in order to defend the universe), Thor and his fighting buddies always seem to be having a grand old time. Balancing Thor's earnest goodness is Loki, the black sheep of the family viewers can't help but like. Part snake in the grass, part puppy dog, Loki's antics are always intriguing and often humorous.

Portman reprises her role as Thor's love interest with more enthusiasm than she showed in the first film. It's her turn to be the fish out of water as she visits Thor's home world of Asgard. Jane may not have the hand-to-hand combat skills of the other women in Thor's life, but she proves that intelligence can be a powerful weapon.

In fact, the only mildly boring character is Eccleston’s villain, Malekith. The former Doctor Who is so covered in makeup his normally expressive face can barely move. It doesn't help that Malekith's native language (Dark Elvian?) is a flat, ugly tongue subtitled in deliberately bad spelling that only acts as a distraction ("Kursed"? Really?).

The story rarely drags, the special effects are impressive, and the many battle scenes are more fun than gruesome. While the colors on the screen tend to tones of gray, that only makes Thor's red cape stand out all the more. In addition to all the eye candy, Thor: The Dark World is often flat-out funny. Groan-worthy quips are paired with sight gags like the mighty Thor meekly hanging his hammer on a coat rack, and some jokes are set up early only to pay off hours later.

Pick up some popcorn and prepare to enjoy Thor: The Dark World for what it is: an old-fashioned, good vs. evil story with a couple of nifty plot twists, a lot of laughs, and a bunch of enjoyable characters. But go easy on the soft drinks—if you leave before the very end of the credits you'll miss the final moments.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  A man takes prescription drugs, pulling them out of a bag of various medications. Inhabitants of Asgard are shown celebrating a victory with what appears to be alcoholic beverages and reference is made to epic partying in times past.
  • Language/Profanity: Only a few instances: the s-word comes up a couple of times, once paired with “holy;” the d-word makes an appearance; a couple of “what the he**” and a character tells another “see you in hell.”
  • Sex/Nudity:  Thor is shown wearing a low-slung towel kind of thing, but only briefly. A couple of kissing scenes. A man is shown (on television) running around naked but his private parts are blurred; he’s later seen wearing a shirt and tighty-whities. A reference is made to a woman who sleeps around.
  • Violent/Frightening/Intense:  Thor and his people are warriors so there is a significant amount of fighting of the basic cartoon action hero kind, but it’s not too gruesome and relatively bloodless. There are a few icky spots involving stabbings, but the camera never dwells on these things too long. A character is infected with a dark force and is later levitated in a manner reminiscent of classic possession-themed films. Limbs are severed from various characters but again, blood loss is minimal.
  • Spiritual Themes: Odin clearly states "we are not gods" but the inhabitants of Asgard aren’t exactly mortal, either. More than one character sacrifices himself for the greater good.

Publication date: November 7, 2013