‘Thor’ returns, but he’s not much fun this time

Comic book movies are increasingly, like Sandra Bullock in “Gravity,” lost in space.

Following the summer’s glumly bombastic “Man of Steel,” which added a heavy dose of Krypton politics to Superman’s once pleasantly silly story, comes “Thor: The Dark World.”

Thor’s Asgard, a celestial home of gods floating somewhere in the universe, is the primary setting. Earth is an afterthought, just one of the “nine realms,” albeit the one with Natalie Portman.

Gone are the earthbound pleasures of a superhero amid us mortals. Such was the joy of the “Spider-Man” movies and the first “Thor,” when Chris Hemsworth’s lofty, hammer-wielding Norse warrior, exiled to Earth, so happily encountered a cup of coffee for the first time.

Thor has spent the last two years restoring order to the nine realms of the cosmos, but just as peace settles, a previously locked-away dark energy called the Aether seeps out.

It leaks into Portman’s astrophysicist, Jane Foster, awakening a previously vanquished species of Dark Elves, led by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston). They would like to see the universe returned to complete darkness.

To save Life As We Know It, Thor seeks help from his duplicitous adoptive brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who has been imprisoned for killing thousands of humans at “New York.”

When “The Dark World” touches down on Earth, away from the “Clash of the Titans”-style realms of gods, it’s considerably better.

Returning along with Portman are sarcasm sidekick Kat Dennings (as Jane’s intern) and Stellan Skarsgard (as discredited scientist Erik Selvig). Chris O’Dowd makes a welcome cameo as a blind date for a very reluctant Jane.

The tone is far more amiable on Earth (London, to be specific, the site of the final showdown) than in Asgard, where Anthony Hopkins, Renee Russo and Idris Elba remain locked in golden-hued majesty.

Hemsworth, a seemingly perfectly rendered movie star equipped with brawn and baritone, also suffers from the stiffness. He had much more fun in “Rush” earlier this year.

“Thor: The Dark World” (2 stars)

The brawny Thor (Chris Hemsworth) takes on the Aether, a new dark energy that threatens the nine realms (including earth, home of Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). He must ask his villainous adoptive brother Loki (Tom Hiddleton) for help.

Rated: PG-13 for violence and content.

Showing: Alderwood Mall, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Stanwood, Meridian, Sundance, Thornton Place, Woodinville, Blue Fox, Cascade Mall, Oak Harbor.

More in Life

For Texas BBQ, look for the school bus at the reptile museum

This husband-and-wife team has been serving up brisket and more for a decade in Monroe.

This new Pacific Northwest history textbook is a page turner

Opportunity, growth, conflict. It all happened here, historian David Jepsen says. “Snohomish… Continue reading

The ‘Whimsical Woman’ shares what she learns on the trail

Jennifer Mabus came here from Nevada and Hawaii. She leads hikes and blogs about them.

Restored historic bungalow is featured Everett Home Tour stop

The new owners received high praise from previous inhabitants for preserving its character.

Oh, the horrors! ‘mother’ an exhausting carnival of chaos

What is “mother!”? The coy publicity for this non-capitalized movie hasn’t revealed… Continue reading

Urban trails: 10 hiking destinations close to home

You don’t have to go into the backcountry to hike through Snohomish… Continue reading

Glamping: This mom’s new fav way to do family vacations

After spending the summer searching for the perfect tent trailer, I finally… Continue reading

This father’s reflections on the joys and fears of parenthood

I loved having children. It’s been one of the high points of… Continue reading

Most Read