Entertainment Movies
Entertainment Entertainment Movies

'Thor: The Dark World' review: Not the evil elves!

** (out of four)

When Thor (Chris Hemsworth) first appears in “Thor: The Dark World,” he’s dominating a battle in Vanaheim (home of Visneyland?) and destroys the Rock—er, a monster that resembles a walking rock collection—with a single hammer smash to the face. It’s easy. Too easy.

That’s part of why, despite Hemsworth’s perfect casting, I again have tried and failed to care about the Marvel comics superhero whose contributions to 2012’s “The Avengers” identified him as a useful team player. Largely on his own in 2011’s dull “Thor” and now in “The Dark World,” Thor, his mighty torso and his powerful-enough-to-turn-anyone-into-a-badass weapon lack vulnerability. Fans may say, “But he’d risk his life for Jane (Natalie Portman)!” These movies make me think how lovely Thor and Jane’s kids would be but not how majestically dreamy their bond is.

Following his previous battle with the underwhelming Frost Giants, Thor now copes with Dark Elves who return in pursuit of aether, an evil power that looks like possessed, flying red wine. Seriously, this is the main villain and the world-destroying force at work. The film also grows complicated rather than engrossing as multiple worlds move toward the convergence they achieve every 5,000 years. That unlikely coincidence isn’t the only bad luck here: Thor’s throne-craving bro Loki (Tom Hiddleston) was the juiciest character in “The Avengers,” but he spends much of “The Dark World” in jail. It’s as rewarding as when Lisbeth Salander lay around in bed in “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Next.”

Better used in a small dose is one of the Avengers (no, I won’t ruin who) in a brief, self-parodying cameo; it’s the film’s most effortlessly fun moment. Otherwise, a few strong images from new director Alan Taylor notwithstanding, “The Dark World” becomes the latest expensive approximation of entertainment that equates destruction with eye-popping splendor.

Not that things get better when the dust settles. Anthony Hopkins returns as King Explains-A-Lot for some of the film’s many conversations that unfold as intense bickering elevated to big shouting and returning to serious assertions. And none of the instances when the script’s a little funny involve Kat Dennings (returning as Jane’s snarky assistant), who again clearly thinks she’s hilarious but registers only as obnoxious. How this annoying one-trick pony continues to get work I have no idea.

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U



Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.


Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Chicago sues red light camera firm for $300 million

    Chicago sues red light camera firm for $300 million

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration has sued Chicago's former red light camera operator, Redflex Traffic Systems, for more than $300 million on grounds the entire program was built on a $2 million bribery scheme at City Hall that has already led to federal corruption convictions.

  • Marrow's 'The Gold Standard' raises the Chicago rock bar

    Marrow's 'The Gold Standard' raises the Chicago rock bar

    The four musicians in Marrow know quite a bit about bringing diverse influences to the table. After all, three of them, singer-guitarist Liam Kazar, singer-keyboardist Macie Stewart and bassist Lane Beckstrom were in Kids These Days, a now-defunct septet that combined jazz, funk, rap and rock in...

  • The Kids These Days family tree

    The Kids These Days family tree

    From its 2009 beginnings to its 2013 demise, Chicago's Kids These Days seemed like one of the most promising acts the city had seen in years. While the band split up at the height of its hype, its members have since gone on to do bigger and better things—seriously impressive considering the hip-hop/rock/jazz...

  • Solid 'Gold': How ex-Kids These Days members came back stronger as Marrow

    Solid 'Gold': How ex-Kids These Days members came back stronger as Marrow

    After the dissolution of Kids These Days, the much-buzzed about Chicago fusion-jazz-rock-rap septet that split in spring 2013 just a few months after releasing its only album, “Traphouse Rock,” some of its members spent what seems like all of 20 minutes bandless. "We were driving back from the...

  • Mr Twin Sister's 'In the House of Yes' is one of last year's hidden treasures

    Mr Twin Sister's 'In the House of Yes' is one of last year's hidden treasures

    Welcome to RedEye's "Song of the Day," an ongoing feature where music reporter Josh Terry or another RedEye staff member highlights something they're listening to. Some days the track will be new, and some days it will be old. No matter what, each offering is something you should check out. Check...

  • GrubHub's weekend customer-support issues made people hangry

    GrubHub's weekend customer-support issues made people hangry

    Technical difficulties at GrubHub and Seamless over the weekend drove hordes of hangry would-be customers to air their grievances on social media. The food ordering and delivery sites, which merged in 2013 and use GrubHub’s back-end technology, errantly accepted payments on Saturday evening without...