Thor: The Dark World is a formulaic superhero story with a bland villain, but its charming cast, inventive fight scenes, and expansive world building deliver entertaining escapism.

In the aftermath of Marvel’s “Thor” and “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos…but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all. (c) Disney

The sequel’s smash and brawl leaves Earth for other realms, which finally gives it the intergalactic action that’s missed in the original. Asgard looks more like a viking world rather than a CGI post card. The final battle does a playful yet action packed take on portals.

Natalie Portman is a fine damsel in distress. Rene Russo finally gets something to do. Jane Foster’s cohorts injects humor when the cooked up science gets in the way. The chemistry between Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth saves the film from a plot that feels largely inconsequential and therefore bears no impact.

Thor’s already on a set compass, albeit troubled by the longing for his mortal love Jane, which makes for a rather dull superhero that doesn’t justify another sequel with this scale. Fortunately his duplicitous yet amusing brother Loki (arguably the best thing in the film) stirs up some inner turmoils to give Hemsworth something to work with.

The story on the other hand, doesn’t have much to go on. It’s the usual narrative that has become more popular post 911 – bad guy is going to use a weapon of mass destruction against humanity and all will be lost until the hero comes along.

The main problem is the underdeveloped villain, whose spotty logic and evil for evil’s sake motivation is tied to a tedious plan. The science behind it is a complex-but-really-simple story trope that does end up being convoluted at crunch time.

If you set aside the blandly brooding villain and derivative story, there’s still plenty to enjoy from the film. It doesn’t have that emotional Shakespearean undertow of the original but its still an entertaining “had a long week”, “family day” or “safe group choice” superhero flick with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor.

My Rating: 7/10

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