The Prince of Asgard makes a welcome return to the big screen in his latest solo adventure.
The reviews are in for Marvel's Thor: The Dark World and by most accounts, the Alan Taylor-directed sequel does a credible job recapturing the magic of 2011's Thor as our hammer-wielding hero (played by Chris Hemsworth) sets out to save the Nine Realms from an ancient race of Dark Elves led by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston).
The Dark World earns a few knocks from critics for the overabundance of CGI that often plague most comic book movies these days and, for some, being outright boring.
But the majority of critics overall were generally pleased, noting the follow up's mix of action, laughs and romance as Thor carries on a very long-distance relationship with his astrophysicist ladylove Jane Foster, once again played by Natalie Portman. Many also lavished praise on the campy performance by Tom Hiddleston, who chews scenery as the Norse God's adopted brother and rival Loki as the two join forces to defeat the approaching evil.
Here's a sampling of some of the most notable reviews:
• "Thor: The Dark World may not be thunder from the movie gods, but it is—shock!—an entertaining journey into mystery, action and fun," praises the New York Daily News' Joe Neumaier. "It cruises where the earlier film lumbered…It has its faults, but this is solidly in the upper sphere of superhero sequels."
He adds, "The secret weapon is Hiddleston. The best thing the film's army of five screenwriters did is set the odd couple of Thor and Loki on a sort-of celestial road trip… Hiddleston's villainous asides steal the show, and he brightens The Dark World when it needs it most."
• "Disposable as it may feel at the end of the day, Thor: The Dark World is not without a certain pleasing deftness, from its goofily offhand way of finding scientific explanations for blatantly supernatural phenomena, to the blithe ease with which it sends its characters hopscotching from one dimension to the next," offers Justin Chang of Variety.
• "Thor: The Dark World" delivers the goods—action, otherworldly grandiosity, romance, humor—above and beyond its predecessor," observes The Wrap's Alonzo Duralde. "That doesn't necessarily launch it into the pantheon of greatness, but it's at least a reassuring sign that the Marvel juggernaut is remaining firmly on the rails. Or the Rainbow Bridge. Whatever."
• "It's fairly entertaining. Same old threats of galaxy annihilation, spiced with fish-out-of-water jokes," opines Michael Phillips of The Chicago Tribune. "Plenty of fine actors do what they can here amid the digital mayhem and smashed columns. At times the film appears to have been directed by The Hulk, in a snit."
• On the other hand, the New York Post's Kyle Smith hammers the film for lacking drama: "Dark World is as narratively gripping as if the pages of the IKEA catalog attacked one another," he railed. "I think even the filmmakers…would be surprised if you ever became emotionally engaged."
• In a two-star review, David Fear of TimeOut New York pretty much agrees: "This is a superhero movie that feels like it might have been made by anyone and no one at the same time, simply space-filler before the next big team-up movie."
• "Thor: The Dark World, a watchable but technologically overscaled slab of Marvel boilerplate, is far from a great superhero movie—it's more like the diagram for one," lamented Entertainment Weekly's Owen Glieberman, giving the flick a B minus. "The battles have a videogame medieval dazzle that temporarily heightens the senses, then leaves you numb…Only when Tom Hiddleston is on screen, as Thor's dark-souled stepbrother, Loki, does any real drama take hold."