I still get a Masters of the Universe (1987) vibe when watching this movie. Thor might as well be called He-Man. Instead of a sword, he wields a magic hammer. Chris Hemsworth returns as the muscle-bound, Medieval-type in the red cape and the long, blonde hair, even longer than last time. The ice giants who were the villains in the previous Thor movie are replaced with Dark Elves who are really Romulans with better technology. Instead of Nero from Star Trek (2009), here we get Malekith, a warlord hellbent on conquering or destroying everything.
This time around, I also get, not necessarily a Star Trek vibe but a Star Wars vibe, particularly a prequel vibe, and that's mainly because of the presence of Natalie Portman who returns as unlikely astrophysicist Jane Foster. It's also because director Alan Taylor (The Sopranos and Games of Thrones) steals a shot right out of Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones that has Portman dressed almost as she was in that 2002 movie, standing exactly as she stood, looking out at a lakeside view that is almost exactly the same as in Attack of the Clones.
Jane Foster is nothing more than a damsel in distress who sleeps for a good chunk of this movie or cowers and hides. At least, Senator Amidala picked up a weapon. Here, Jane is a walking MacGuffin, a pretty prop for the men to throw around. I felt like Courteney Cox got to do more in Masters of the Universe. Jane Foster has a similar thing happen to her as Pepper Potts in Iron Man 3, but at least Pepper got to kick some butt. Jane is the epitome of a rag doll.
Tom Hiddleston reprises his role as Loki, the Heath Ledger to Hemsworth's Christian Bale. Hiddleston is by far the best part about the movie. It's always good when he's in scenes with Thor or Odin, played by Anthony Hopkins, because there's personal stakes there. The screenplay doesn't attempt to develop or give Malekith a personality. He's just generic evil dude, so Loki, even when his character is locked in prison, draws the audience's attention and makes more of an impression than Malekith.
The problem is that there are two twists when it comes to Loki, maybe even three. One of which I appreciated and possibly liked. The last one I didn't understand nor see the point. If anything, it's cheating. It's cheap, emotional manipulation that then ultimately undermines whatever they were trying to do with the character of Thor, but at least it's proof that the producers recognize the value of Loki.
The movie suggests a possible love triangle between Thor, Jane and Sif, played by Jaimie Alexander, but that never goes anywhere. The visual effects aren't particularly exciting in the wake of Marvel's The Avengers. It tries to be bigger, but it just ends up being muddled. Taylor does wield an impressive final battle that has Thor and Malekith falling perpetually through invisible portals between Earth and the home world of the Dark Elves, but, all-in-all, this is a less than worthy follow-up to Thor (2011).
Two Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 52 mins.