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"Thor: The Dark World": When Drow meet hammer

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Thor: The Dark World

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So at this point, comic book movie fans are watching every Marvel movie to keep "The Avengers" flame alive. It's certainly why I keep watching "S.H.I.E.L.D." despite its mediocre plotlines and acting, and it's what lured me to "Iron Man 3" (even though Iron Man didn't need any help). So watching "Thor: The Dark World" has become a necessity just to get all the inside jokes from the Marvel marketing juggernaut. Despite the world-shattering implications, not a whole lot happens.

"The Dark World" begins with the dark elves, an evil race hell bent on reclaiming the universe with dark matter using a magical weapon of mass destruction called the Aether. These elves are led by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), and he uses dark matter to create killing machines known as the Kursed. Defeated by Odin's (Anthony Hopkins) predecessor Bor (Tony Curran), the dark elves have since gone into hibernation, waiting for the right moment to return and wield the Aether once more. In case you're wondering, these dark elves do not wear a hooded cloak and wield two swords -- and until later, their skin is pale white, not dark black.

Stumbling into this mess is poor Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), our super-smart damsel in distress who just happens to pass between worlds and absorb the Aether. It seems the Aether likes to live inside people, making Jane a Distress Ball -- a character to be batted back and forth between Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Odin, and Malekith. Girl meets god, bad guy steals girl, god saves her and the nine worlds. You get the idea.

Where "The Dark World" rises above its mediocre plot is when Thor teams up with Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Loki chews the scenery with glee, and the half-brothers' shared pain makes them a snarky combination that's a pleasure to watch. It doesn't last nearly long enough, and in no time Loki's back to being sneaky and Thor's back to hitting things with Meow-Meow -- Dary Lewis' (Kat Dennings) name for Thor's hammer, Mjolnir.

The special effects are excellent, including Hemsworth with his shirt off, but that's simply obscuring the fact that despite a planar conjunction and a battle for the universe, "The Dark World" feels trite. It's not that "The Dark World" is bad, it's just that it's not up to the quality of the other Marvel movies.

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