MARVEL stumbles badly in this sequel to THOR/’11. Not that the initial film was bursting with kinetic wit & originality, but it did have something of a plot you could follow between the outbursts of CGI imagery. In fact, two plots: an Earthly exile tale with mortal romance (think Superman/Lois Lane) balanced against a quasi-Shakespearean sibling rivalry story of Thor & his warrior brother Loki for the King’s favor (think Henry IV; Prince Hal; Hotspur). The new film still hops back-and-forth, faster than ever once a gateway flue is discovered, but the latest threat, a sort of evil red ectoplasm, proves impossible to dramatize . . . and about as exciting to fight as the flu. As musclebound Thor, Chris Hemsworth has apparently completed his inexpressivity training; as his underused mom, Rene Russo finally gets something to do . . . play intergalactic corpse at a Viking Funeral; and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is banished to a fashionably furnished cell that might fetch 4 thou/month on the NYC rental market. Everyone else either phones it in or tries to make something fresh out of lame comic tag lines that might have been written for Roger Moore’s 007.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: For the nonce, these MARVEL pics seem commercially all but impervious to issues of quality. Make them and fanboys will come; especially if you give it the GAME OF THRONES vibe seen here. But with two more Thor outings in the pipeline (AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON/’15; THOR: RAGNAROK/’17) there’s got to be a point of diminishing gross returns. Yes? (Ha! Just skip a release cycle before recasting the inevitable reboot with the next generation.)