Thor: The Dark World: Scandinavian Almond Bars,

Year Released: 2013
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins
(PG-13, 112 min.)
Action and Adventure, Science Fiction and Fantasy

His hammer is still hot, but the saga tastes a little like a warmed over Danish.  What was fresh and surprising in the first film now seems pre packaged.  Like the franchise is trying too hard to generate the next sequel.

At least it's not too close to the Christmas season, because Thor's dark enemy here is one mean elf who wants to plunge the universe back into primordial darkness.  On second thought, Malekith and his band of brothers actually remind me more of our current Congress. But that's a thought for another day.

My junior critic grandson Weston agrees with several other reviewers who actually like this film better than Thor's original 2011 outing, but I will have to issue still another minority report.  Perhaps my lackluster response to Thor: The Dark World has to do with expectations. I was not expecting very much from the 2011 film and was delightfully surprised by a Thor played with just the right amount of Fabio abandon by then Australian newcomer Chris Hemsworth.  He was also overflowing with macho charm, bulging pectorals, and  unhindered by the empathy that reigned in his better-known Alien immigrant, Superman.  At least this movie critic has found the bad boys, like Thor and fellow Avenger Tony Stark, a refreshing change from the ernest hand wringers politically correct Hollywood chooses to lead the cinematic charge.

However, like Tony in his third solo outing, where he becomes more sensitive, caring, and committed, Thor is a better god in Dark World.  Yes, he stands up the perky little scientist he fell for 2 years ago, but that is only because he has been busy saving the world, or worlds we might say, seeing as he has been battering heads in all the 9 realms of Asgard.  Personally, I miss his undaunted male chauvinism and arrogance just as I miss it in the now pinch-faced and anemic looking James Bond and the dependent and pathetic Sherlock Holmes who now confronts us weekly on CBS.

And Anthony Hopkins as Odin is so bad at times that I am frantically searching for a phrase that takes "phoning it in" to the next level of numbness.  When his "ponderous monologue" begins the film I actually thought we were still watching some B grade previews.  There is no majesty in the voice that once vied with Richard Burton's as a fine musical instrument.  Gone also is the regal presence and stature.  We see none of the battle hardened majesty of this king of the nordic gods; instead a haggard face and portly frame that look all too much the result of hard and fast Hollywood living. 

Maybe this film would have impressed me more as a summer popcorn movie, which I think was its original release date. Or perhaps I've had just a little too much of the super hero Hollywood franchises and comic book characters as source material. But the younger set will probably love all the action and the underlying humor, especially the half naked scientist who thinks better in his underwear.  

And if you serve these easy and delicious Scandinavian Almond Bars, the little Viking in everyone is sure to be pleased. 

–Kathy Borich