Alynda Wheat, Paul Chi, and Oliver Jones
November 18, 2013 12:00 PM

Thor: The Dark World

Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston | PG-13 |

SCI-FI

From Zod to Zuul, it’s the villains, with all their dastardly flair, who often make sci-fi fantasies worth watching. So it’s significant that The Dark World, the funnier, snappier, better sequel to 2011’s Thor, gets more punch out of its sidekicks than its bad guys.

Plotting to destroy the universe this time are the Dark Elves, led by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston). What are they waiting for? A celestial event, known as the convergence, that’s also causing freaky happenings on Earth. That’s where scientist Jane Foster (Portman) comes in, as she watches the skies and waits for on/off boyfriend Thor (Hemsworth) to return. Their romance is still weak, but there’s barely time to notice, what with Elves laying waste to Thor’s home, Asgard, and taking aim at our own planet. It would all be heavier than a magic hammer if not for those divine second bananas.

Start with Thor’s notorious brother Loki (Hiddleston), sidelined from real villainy while in an Asgardian clink. Hiddleston owns his scenes, spreading devilry and delight with every line. Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgård add laughs as Jane’s off-kilter cohorts, and even Bridesmaids’ Chris O’Dowd shows up in a hilarious throwaway role. All that merriment leaves Thor with precious little time to break new ground, but so be it. The film is still a heck of a lot of fun.

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