Having overcome exile and battled his treacherous brother in 2011’s Thor, before teaming up with a band of dysfunctional superheroes to protect the earth from the same power-mad sibling in last year’s The Avengers, our hammer-hurling demi-god returns to vanquish a new enemy in Thor: The Dark World.

Fresh off his charming portrayal of cocky racecar driver James Hunt in Rush, Chris Hemsworth slips back into his Asgardian armor as he prepares to take on The Dark Elves in this ridiculously complicated story. Turns out this ancient race of evil aliens, led by the vengeful Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) is seeking a powerful energy source that has somehow found its way into the body of Thor’s astrophysicist girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Left with no choice but to reunite with his unreliable brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), currently locked away in a prison cell in Asgard, Thor must not only protect his ladylove, but also foil Malekith’s plan to plunge the entire cosmos into darkness and despair.
 
 
 
Everything moves at a frenetic pace in this film, giving you barely any chance to enjoy the action, to soak in a clever one-liner, or to mourn the death of a loved character. The special effects are pretty impressive, but Asgard still looks like a gaudy Vegas attraction. What’s surprising about the film is how spectacularly uninvolving it is. The previous film had a nice fish-out-of-water charm, but this one’s trying too hard to achieve an epic feel.
 
The best moments are the humorous bits, including Loki’s stinging putdowns, and stray clap-traps provided by the likes of Jane’s bumbling intern (Kat Dennings), her would-be-suitor (Chris O’Dowd), and her daft mentor (Stellan Skarsgard). Hemsworth himself gets a few light moments, including a scene in which Thor travels on the London tube with cape and all. These little treats are scattered sparingly during the film, which expectedly focuses on Thor’s mission to save the Nine Realms from imminent disaster.
 
Unfortunately that’s as formulaic and predictable as the recipe for an omelette, and there’s never any real sense of fear or dread when Thor faces off against the supposedly indestructible villains. As superhero movies go, this is underwhelming stuff.
I’m going with two out of five for Thor: The Dark World. Only enjoyable in spurts.
 
 

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