Thor: The Dark World
Yes, Hollywood has fallen completely in love with its impressive capacity to present to us stunning images on the screen, using the latest and greatest computer graphic imaging technology. Yes, we want to look at beautiful people, and if they have incredible physical or mental capacities, so much the better. And yes, we all enjoy just a little romance. So if “Thor: The Dark World” has all these eye-candy ingredients, why is it such a bore?
I think because it forgot to tell us a story first, preferably one that’s not too difficult to follow, and bears some resemblance to our own reality. Alas, the plot of “Thor” is neither of these.
Let’s see, thousands of years ago there was a race of beings called the Dark Elves, and they tried to send the universe into darkness by using a weapon known as Aether (pronounced like “ether”), which looks like floating blood streams? And then there’s some kind of interplanetary alignment which produces a time/space travel anomaly, which allows Norse gods like Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to travel to Earth, which is good for Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), an earthling who just happens to be an accomplished astrophysicist, but actually seems more like a jilted adolescent pining for the adventurous man/child who left her behind because he had to take care of business in nine realms at once. Eyes glazing over yet? How about we throw in family squabbles between Odin (Anthony Hopkins), the reigning Norse god, and Loki (Tim Hiddleston), his black sheep son who has aligned himself with the evil Malekith (Christopher Eccleston?) And for comic relief, we have Stellan Skarsgard in “tighty whities”? Sigh.
Natalie Portman is wasted as a vacuous quailing bimbo. For that matter, Anthony Hopkins isn’t exactly put to great use, either, with his eye-patch-borrowed ferocity and his self-important posturing. Chris Hemsworth gamely attempts to be the superhero with a conscience; the hard-chiseled body with the heart of gold, but there’s not even a hint of ironic self-deprecation in that model’s perfect face, as there would have been on, say, Brad Pitt. Really, the only bright spot is the almost-human portrayal of Rene Russo as Frigga, Odin’s Asgardian wife, but it’s too little, too late. We’ve given up either making any sense of it, or caring about the characters, anyway.
Yes, Hollywood knows we love our superheroes, and fantasy films are all the rage right now. But there still needs to be a discernible plot, and characters we can identify with, and root for, and, occasionally, surprise us.
“Thor: The Dark World” is so weighted down by its own idiosyncratic smoke and mirrors that it neglects to make the magic.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving , Texas