Thor: The Dark World ★★½

How do you ramp up the stakes from the first film, centered around a fight for the throne of the realm of gods? Easy, when you center its sequel around the entire annihilation of every universe in existence. But keep it almost entirely about fighting for daddy’s approval, because that’s what worked the first time, right?

This film’s arc is clunky and takes a while to get off the ground, but even when it manages to, it does so with the grace of a wounded boar. Just as with the first Thor, it’s impossible to give a shit about the relationships between any of these characters, and while I don’t think that’s the fault of any of the talented actors involved, it simply doesn’t make for a compelling experience. Even the film’s prime villain is a poor sketch of a bad guy, unable to deliver any emotion through thick prosthesis and a made-up language. It’s in the relationship of Jane (Portman) and Thor (Hemsworth) that the heart of the film is supposed to lie, and it’s beyond resuscitating at this point.

This experience is saved only by some surprisingly coherent action sequences (“coherent" in this case refers to the fact that I can tell what’s going on, not to lend it too much believability as a narrative) sprinkled with some witty banter and moments of playfulness, clearly taking cues from what worked in The Avengers.

I don’t really want to spend any more time with this film, so I’ll just say this: if you liked the first Thor, you’ll probably like this one too, because it’s pretty much the same deck of cards re-shuffled.