‘Dark World’ light on plot but Thor fans won’t mind

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Let’s face it: Thor isn’t a very com­plex guy. He’s an an­cient Norse de­ity, but he’s not quite a full-fledged god. His peo­ple, a brood of cos­tumed brawlers who spend their days tromp­ing around the myth­i­cal city of As­gard, live thou­sands of years, but not for­ever. Thor is the son of As­gard’s king Odin (An­thony Hop­kins), a craggy old man with a per­ma­nently af­fixed eye-patch and a Santa Claus beard. When the young prince isn’t clob­ber­ing rock gi­ants from other realms with his fancy mag­i­cal mal­let, Mjol­nir, he oc­ca­sion­ally shows up on Earth to play comic-book su­per­hero and punch bad guys, but only dur­ing sum­mers when there’s a new Avengers film out.

Ba­si­cally, Thor is a big guy with a cape and a ham­mer. To him, ev­ery­thing looks like a nail.

As played by Chris Hemsworth in “Thor: The Dark World,” the lat­est in­car­na­tion of the Mar­vel comics hero is rak­ish, con­fi­dent and ca­pa­bly ath­letic. Mr. Hemsworth has rip­pled abs and moun­tain­ous bi­ceps that the movie makes sure to lux­u­ri­ate over in an early and en­tirely point­less scene of show-offy shirt­less­ness. Com­bined with his long, golden locks and his air of ca­sual frat-boy swag­ger, Mr. Hemsworth’s Thor of­ten looks as if he just ar­rived from a par­tic­u­larly epic game of beach vol­ley­ball.

It’s a fun life Thor has, zap­ping mag­i­cally be­tween As­gard and the rest of the realms his peo­ple claim to rule, win­ning wars and chug­ging cel­e­bra­tory ales. Fun, that is, un­til an an­cient vil­lain stirs. There’s a far-flung back­story in­volv­ing Thor’s grand­fa­ther and an age-old war be­tween gods, but the ar­cane par­tic­u­lars don’t mat­ter. You can tell how evil the re­vived bad­die is by his suit of black ar­mor, his boom­ing sub­ter­ranean growl of a voice, his dead-eyed stare, and his un­ques­tion­ably evil-sound­ing name: Malekith the Ac­cursed.

Malekith (Christo­pher Ec­cle­ston) has a suit­ably vil­lain­ous plan in­volv­ing death, de­struc­tion and a pair of pow­er­ful mys­ti­cal con­cepts: the Aether and the Con­ver­gence. The movie leaves the de­tails of both fairly vague, but it does re­veal the fol­low­ing about the Con­ver­gence: “Few can sense it. Even fewer can see it.” Fewer still, I sus­pect, can ex­plain it.

But why would any­one want to? This isn’t a movie for those who crave finely tuned plot­ting. Like its tit­u­lar hero, this su­per­hero se­quel is big and broad and self-sat­is­fied but not ter­ri­bly con­cerned with the de­tails. For those who like spe­cial-ef­fect­srid­den hero films, which, judg­ing by re­cent box­of­fice num­bers, ap­pears to be just about ev­ery­one, it’s also rea­son­ably en­ter­tain­ing as well.

This movie of­fers less of a show­case for Natalie Portman, who reprises her role as Thor’s earthly love in­ter­est, the sci­en­tist Jane Fos­ter, than its 2011 pre­de­ces­sor. And it prob­a­bly could have used more of the great Tom Hid­dle­ston’s As­gar­dian trick­ster Loki as well. But it of­fers an ap­peal­ing mix of screw­ball com­edy, big-bud­get ac­tion scenes and lik­able ren­di­tions of comic book char­ac­ters.

What it doesn’t of­fer is much of an in­di­vid­ual cin­e­matic per­son­al­ity. The movie was di­rected by Alan Tay­lor, a reg­u­lar be­hind the cam­era on HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” but it comes across as a by-com­mit­tee prod­uct of the well-oiled Mar­vel Comics movie ma­chine. There’s a sort of for­mu­laic com­pe­tence to the way the movie pounds through its beats. Given the for­mula’s suc­cess, you can hardly blame them for us­ing it again. At this point, pre­dictable but en­joy­able su­per­hero movies are some­thing that Mar­vel Stu­dios has pretty well nailed down. TI­TLE: CRED­ITS: RAT­ING: RUN­NING TIME:

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