He Said, She Said at the Movies: Thor: The Dark World - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

He Said, She Said at the Movies: Thor: The Dark World

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HE SAID: "Thor: The Dark World" is the next movie in Phase Two of Marvel Studios' superhero movie universe, and it continues the level of excellence established by the films that have come before it, even if it's probably the weakest Marvel entry since "Iron Man 2." I won't get too detailed with the plot. It revolves around a powerful enemy that Asgard can't withstand, a villainous race so menacing, Thor is forced to call on his untrustworthy brother Loki (played perfectly once again by Tom Hiddleston). Chris Hemsworth returns in the title role, and Natalie Portman is back as Dr. Jane Foster, Thor's love interest.

The major critique I have of the movie is that it relies more on action than it does plot. The humor and comedic timing are excellent, and that's certainly been one element that sets this universe apart from the overly serious and self-important efforts from DC Comics (Green Lantern, Superman Returns, etc.). The movie's runtime isn't too bad at 1 hour, 51 minutes. However, it does feel a bit tired in the middle third of the story. The last 30 minutes are breathtaking, and definitely make up for some of the slow sections of the movie. The director, Alan Taylor, takes the helm from Kenneth Branagh, and you can see his strengths in this genre (he previously worked on "Game of Thrones" for HBO). But the filmmakers have way too much confidence in their villain, Malekith. He looks cool, but has the emotional/intellectual depth of a bag of rocks.

Having said all of that, Taylor crafts a movie that's entertaining, confident, funny and gorgeous to look at. Hemsworth is a terrific leading man, Portman and Hopkins bring Academy-Award winning acting chops to the table and Kat Dennings and Chris O'Dowd (Bridesmaids, This is 40) bring a lot of eccentric and unexpected laughs to the table. The writing is smart and Marvel has engineered another key cog in its franchise that pieces together a bigger story you can feel brewing the entire time. Yes, I'm referring to The Avengers: Age of Ultron. It's a testament to Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel, that the solo movies can stay so entertaining even after you've been spoiled by seeing everyone together on screen at the same time (Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, and finally Hawkeye).

All in all, I give it my full recommendation. It's a nice detour from serious and dramatic Oscar contenders, providing a chance to sit back and simply be entertained. And be sure to stick around for the usual Easter eggs at the end of the movie (there are two post-credits scenes).   

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