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Chris Hemsworth in Thor: The Dark World.

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★★✩✩✩

Thor: The Dark World

Directed by Alan Taylor

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, and Tom Hiddleston

Rated PG-13

Now playing

The key to enjoying Thor: The Dark World is low expectations. If you’re looking for a dim-witted but exciting movie (or hero), this one is another fun addition to the Marvel universe.

The prologue tells the story of Malekith, leader of the Dark Elves, who sought to turn the world evil using a force called “Aether.” Thor’s grandfather battled Malekith’s Kursed warriors and successfully trapped and hid the Aether before Malekith was able to complete the ritual. Of course, he forgot to double check that he really killed the villain, and Malekith and his elves escaped into suspended animation.

In the present day, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) has spent two years waiting for Thor and is just starting to move on with her life, but on an unexpected visit to a mysterious factory, she is sucked into a vortex, where the Aether enters her.

At this point, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) flies to Earth to search for and reunite with Jane in a predictably boring scene, before taking her back to his home in Asgard to have the Aether removed. All the exposition serves to help non-Avengers fans catch up on the plot, but the first hour of the movie really drags along. There isn’t enough action to be interesting.

Luckily for us, Malekith sends a decoy Kursed warrior into Asgard’s jail for an ambush, during which they kill many Asgardians and torch Asgard’s shields in an amazing scene full of exciting special effects. In a revenge fight, Jane loses the Aether to Malekith at a huge cost, and Thor and the others must return to Earth for a final showdown.

Though Thor’s adoptive brother Loki is portrayed as a morally ambiguous character throughout the story, he’s the real star of the movie — Hiddleston steals scenes with his witty quips. With so many Marvel Universe characters getting their own movies, is it too much to hope that Loki gets his own tale too?

As for the other characters, they’re mostly forgettable. Thor’s posse of sidekicks gets enough screen time to help him escape from Asgard, but I couldn’t be bothered to learn their names. They’re nowhere to be found when Thor fights Malekith. Neither Thor nor Jane seems particularly invested in their romance, though it’s supposedly integral to the plot.

The choppy 3D animations weren’t much fun either. Scenes rendered completely by visual effects were enhanced by 3D, but many live-action scenes were blurry — even when characters were walking, let alone fighting. Adding subtitles in 3D meant that my eyes were constantly refocusing to try to visualize the depth. The use of 3D certainly isn’t justified in this movie.

However, the constant action throughout the latter half of the movie was exhilarating. If you plan to watch Thor, I’d also recommend sticking around until the end of the credits. There’s a scene mid-credits, as well as one post-credits that helps set the scene for future Marvel movies. Unsurprisingly, Thor will be back soon, whether we like it or not.