My Marvel “Avengers” scorecard is tilting firmly into the negative, and unless the upcoming “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” succeeds in partially righting it—it’s going to sink. I haven’t enjoyed either “Thor” film in the franchise, and both “Iron Man” sequels were pretty lousy too. And don’t get me started on 2008’s tepid “The Incredible Hulk” with Edward Norton. For all the hatred fired at the 2003 “Hulk” movie, at least Ang Lee was trying to do something beyond smashing things. The reboot couldn’t be bothered. I was cool with the original “Iron Man” film, and Robert Downey Jr.’s snarky, charismatic performance as Tony Stark. And I really dug 2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger”, with Chris Evans nailing all the right notes as the “aw shucks” super patriot. And 2012’s “Marvel’s The Avengers” brought all the characters together beautifully and played like the true summer blockbuster popcorn movie that it was. But prospects have dimmed with a tandem of clunkers(“Iron Man 3”, and this)being released to begin the “second wave”. I don’t like Thor’s world(Asgard looks like a video game), I despise Anthony Hopkins scenery chewing, Natalie Portman is not convincing as a scientist for a moment, and the slapsticky tone of both “Thor” movies really stinks. About the only thing I do appreciate about “Thor” and “Thor: The Dark World” is Chris Hemsworth’s sly performances as the title character. He’s spot-on, and the only thing keeping this section of the franchise afloat.
Covering the bulk of the plot would be tedious. Let’s just say bad guy Dark Elf Malekith(Christopher Eccleston…good enough)wants to destroy the universe with some out-there weapon called the Aether. Natalie Portman is astrophysicist(I’m shaking my head and laughing writing that)Dr. Jane Foster, who pretty much simply pines for the missing Thor(after falling for him two years prior)and feigns major intellect when the script calls for it. Kat Dennings is back as the wisecracking(read: annoying)intern of Doc Foster, and poor Stellan Skarsgard gets to run around in his underwear. The newly-respected Idris Elba(with his portrayal of the title character in “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”)returns as gatekeeper Heimdall, and must be thinking “what am I doing here?”. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki character is getting tired, and you should know you’re in trouble when Benecio del Toro pops up in the post credits scene—and sparks some too late life into it. Then there’s another after-the-credits bit later, that seems completely unnecessary. Really, it was extremely difficult to work up much enthusiasm at all during this thing, and television director Alan Taylor seems uncertain of how to mount it. Both “Thor” films made a bundle, but I can’t fathom why. A couple more like these, and I may be pining for Ben Affleck’s Batman. Hey, maybe DC is the way to go comics fans. Grade: C
next review up: “Rush”
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