Thor and Sif (Chris Hemsworth, Jaimie Alexander) survey an Asgardian battlefield as the dust clears in "Thor: The Dark World." The movie is about the further adventures of the Marvel Comics character and member of The Avengers as he balances his time between his home world and Earth.

Marvel Studios/courtesy

Thor and Sif (Chris Hemsworth, Jaimie Alexander) survey an Asgardian battlefield as the dust clears in "Thor: The Dark World." The movie is about the further adventures of the Marvel Comics character and member of The Avengers as he balances his time between his home world and Earth.

The Bock’s Office: ‘Thor’ follow-up still not that mighty

— Until American folk hero John Henry gets his own feature film, there will be only one movie character renowned for his hammer. So swings the blunt instrument once again in “Thor: The Dark World.”

Andy Bockelman

Andy Bockelman is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society, and his movie reviews appear in Explore Steamboat and the Craig Daily Press. Contact him at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

Find more columns by Bockelman here.

If you go

“Thor: The Dark World,” rated PG-13

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 4 stars

Running time: 112 minutes

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston and Anthony Hopkins

Now playing at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas and at Craig’s West Theatre.

All is nearly perfect in Asgard: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is maintaining peace among the Nine Realms, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has been imprisoned for his destructive habits, and Odin the All-Father (Anthony Hopkins) is preparing for his favored son to take on the duties of leadership.

Even with so much to keep him occupied, Thor can’t help but spend his time dwelling on another place, namely Earth, and the woman who holds his heart, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). The god of thunder’s longing turns to concern when he finds that Jane has come into contact with a dangerous substance that could destroy her, along with her entire world, perhaps even his if something isn’t done to prevent that from happening.

To make matters worse, an alignment between Asgard and all its surrounding lands means an enemy thought long dead is once again a threat, leaving Thor no choice but to rely on the assistance of the last person he wants to see: his treacherous brother.

Hemsworth has to be getting comfortable in that armor by now, with Thor getting more and more mature after his own solo movie and the team-up featured in “The Avengers.” With the indestructible Mjolnir in one hand and his beloved in the other, you’d think things finally would be going right for him, but heavy is the head that wears the golden tresses, especially when the fate of so many lives are at stake.

Some women may curtsy in the presence of royalty from another dimension, but Portman’s Jane just punches them in the face, making for a feistier leading lady than the last time we saw her. Good to know Thor’s got himself a real down-to-Midgard kind of girl.

Hiddleston’s Loki is trickier than ever — although as much fun as he’s been in the role, it’s disappointing that he plays the antagonist sibling as the smirking black sheep of Asgard who hasn’t been given a fair shake rather than the entity of pure malice he’s been in the Marvel Comics world for more than 50 years.

As for the rest of the Asgardians, standouts like Idris Elba as Heimdall, watchman of the Bifrost Bridge, and Jaimie Alexander as Sif, Thor’s would-be girlfriend and equivalent on the battlefield, are welcome returns, as is Rene Russo in an expanded part as maternal figure Frigga, but Hopkins seems the extent of his paycheck is pontification and scowling from behind a golden eyepatch.

But at least Odin is a moniker everybody remembers.

Yon flagon of mead goes to anyone who can recall the names of the head Dark Elf (Christopher Eccleston) and his lieutenant (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) within five minutes of leaving the theater. You’d think they’d at least show the courtesy of learning English before coming to wipe out our entire existence.

A dull, ugly exposition starts things out rough for this sequel, which falls prey to the same kind of faults as the first film, with too many supporting characters and a poor balance between action on Earth and that on Asgard. None of the movies that have shown Thor and Loki have used them quite right, though “The Avengers” came close.

The fantastic adventures from the pages of the comics are hard to create for the screen, yet it’s even harder to keep the viewers’ attention with so much going on all at once and the hero who’s struggling valiantly to keep it together. Hemsworth gets better with each attempt, but he has a long way to go before he possesses the magnetism of Robert Downey, Jr. or any of the other superhero stars of better movies.

Yet, what really counts is a big finish, and even though the lead-up is weak, the conclusion makes it all worthwhile.

“Thor: The Dark World” could be better and should be better, but as things continue to heat up in the Marvel chronology, at least it’s a respectable placeholder. Hey, if you want your hammer to help you fly as far and as fast as you can, you need a good jumping-off point, right?

Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

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