In theaters Friday, Nov. 8
2 1/2 stars (out of 4 stars)
Sleep well, Iron Man.
Thor may be a noble hunk with a hammer, but he's no threat to your throne atop the Marvel galaxy. And in this sequel, the golden-locked norse god of thunder (Chris Hemsworth) is even upstaged by his own foster brother!
It's the compelling, deliciously wicked Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who comes to Thor's aid in a quest to defeat the evil dark elves. Can he be trusted? Eh, when the safety of the Nine Realms is at stake, a little sibling rivalry ranks low on the priority list. Seems these baddies, who date back to ancient times, have a secret weapon of mass destruction called the Aether and are determined to unleash it. In a sequence that only an astrophysicist — or comic book aficionado — would comprehend, Thor’s long-lost scientist love, Jane (Natalie Portman), discovers it via a magical portal in London. Her body soon becomes an unwitting host to the deadly poison.
Let's just say this central plot is so convoluted, our old brainiac friend Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) attempts to make sense of it and is promptly placed in a mental institution. Indeed, with such a heavy plot, the film tries hard to diffuse the weightiness with blasts of humor. Some of it works (notably, a clever Avengers sight gag); most of it merits a smirk, at best. Fine, to be fair, Portman didn't win an Best Actress Oscar for her zippy comic banter. But her incredulously delivered zinger to Thor — "You told your parents about me?!" — is about as good as it gets.
Still, even the ambitious Game of Thrones–esque mythology can't mask the fact that this superhero entry is just another piece of mildly satisfying, disposable entertainment. And if there’s any doubt, that endless CGI-filled climax of Stuff Blowing Up hammers it all home.