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Article by Teddy Durgin

Thor Brings the Thunder and the Lightning to the Dark World

I think the makers of the "Thor" movies have the biggest challenge of all the superhero franchises now running. I just don't think there are that many big dudes and little dudes who actively want to be him. He's one of those superheroes who is so powerful, so otherworldly, and so physically perfect, that it's hard to relate. I mean, when I was a young comic geek, I would often imagine myself as Spider-Man scaling the sides of buildings. I would grab the top of a trash can and pretend I was Captain America. I yearned to be Batman with the costume, the cash, the cave and the car. It seemed possible to be THOSE guys. But Thor? A thunder god from the realm of Asgard with amazing hair and biceps? I couldn't relate. Even Thor's weapon of choice was never all that appealing. Who wants to lug a heavy freakin' hammer around everywhere? Spidey's web shooters were much lighter. Batman had a whole belt for his gadgets. And Cap's shield was way cooler. So, it's a little surprising that the first two "Thor" movies have actually been good, fun, involving sci-fi adventure stories. The key, I think, has been the casting. Chris Hemsworth is just awesome as the title character. If they made these movies back in the 1990s, you know who we would have gotten in the role? Fabio! And we'd still be scraping the cheese off the movie theater floors. Heck, I can remember the first rumors of a "Thor" movie back in the 1980s. Remember which name was being bandied about back then? Hulk Hogan! Can't ya just see Odin's favorite son yelling, "What are you gonna do, Brother Loki, when the longest arms in Asgard wrap themselves around YOU?!" Hemsworth not only looks the part, he's also a pretty darn good actor. There has been a twinkle in his eye each time he has played Thor. You can tell he loves it. And whatever deficiencies he has as an actor are hidden by being part of an ensemble cast that includes Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman and Tom Hiddleston. In addition to casting, the "Thor" movies work because they make room in them for broad comedy. The audience actually enjoys watching a "Thor" movie. It's not SO heavy like "The Dark Knight" or the recent "Man of Steel." The sun actually shines in Asgard and Midgard. But that doesn't mean there's not a lot at stake. In "Thor: The Dark World," the entire universe is threatened. A fearsome Dark Elf named Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) wants to use a centuries-old substance called the Aether to plunge the cosmos into total darkness. When that happens during a celestial phenomenon known as The Convergence, he will become ruler of all. The middle portion of this film is some of the best popcorn fun of the year. Asgard has been rendered defenseless, Thor's lady love Jane (Portman) is in mortal jeopardy, and Malekith has escaped yet again. All of this combined forces Thor to go against his father and team up with his duplicitous, power-hungry brother Loki (Hiddleston). Nitpicks? I have a few. The final battle has become a bit standard in these Marvel films. You can only see so much Earthbound destruction time after time before it starts to all get a bit routine and perfunctory. It's also laughable that Jane and Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) come up with a remote-control thingamabob on the fly that can briefly open up inter-dimensional portals during The Convergence. But, hey, if I were 12, none of that would matter. I'd totally buy this flick... even the ooey-gooey love between Thor and Jane. Yeah, it diminishes the title character's God-like "bigness" when you realize he's doing it all for the nookie. But I'm sure if a third film happens and some new alien invasion threat needs to be handled, the Mighty Thor will put down the roses and chocolates and answer the call once more for Hammer Time!

"Thor: The Dark World" is rated PG-13 for intense scenes of action and violence, some language and thematic material.

 

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