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This new Thor film delivers a hammer-blow of boredom to the back of the head. It is another franchise product from the Marvel pipeline, conceived without much inspiration in a CGI-green screen world, and without the sprightliness and novelty of the previous Thor outing, directed by Kenneth Branagh. Chris Hemsworth returns as the great god, still carrying a torch, as well as that hammer, for his Earthling love: astrophysicist hottie Jane Foster, gamely played by Natalie Portman. But now he faces a new enemy, the apocalyptically boring Malekith, leader of the Dark Elves, played by Christopher Eccleston and hell-bent on unleashing a fog of dullness on the universe. Malekith stands around glowering with pale-faced, pointy-eared resentment, like a mature student who has been thrown out of a Goth pub for smoking.
The tough lot of being a fan of Marvel's god of thunder, Thor, has become somewhat easier over the last several years. With soon to be two solo movies under his belt, and an important role in the biggest superhero movie of all time, ol' Goldilocks seems to have finally broken out of being that stiff, weird, Shakespearean-speaking guy with the big hammer and a stupid hat. Now, he's that stiff, weird, Shakespearean-speaking guy with the big hammer and no hat. Let's hear it for progress! In all seriousness, if you had told me as a kid that someday I'd get to see Volstagg, Heimdall, Fandrall, Sif, and Thor duking it out with frost giants in Asgard in a live action movie, I'd have thought you were nuts. And if you had told me Thor would star in an awesome video game, I'd have called you insane. Well, Kid Shaun was half-right, at least.
Catastrophically, this development downgrades the status of this franchise's star performer: Thor's wicked brother Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston. Loki is (once again) languishing in Lecteresque imprisonment and Hiddleston brings to it all the usual silky-voiced malice, wit and fun, like James Mason's wicked great-nephew. He's given a bit to do when Thor realises he must make common cause with this duplicitous sibling to defeat Malekith. But his sidelining is a big disappointment. Even Hiddleston can't rescue this Norse epic of tedium.