In ‘Thor,’ the swinging hammer misses

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Thor: The Dark World

The latest attempt by Marvel Comics and parent company Disney to colonize all of popular culture, “Thor: The Dark World” is a holding maneuver -- a superhero tap-dance while the “Avengers” sequel ramps up.

Aside from a few moments of visual invention and self-aware humor, it’s a poorly plotted extravaganza, of no use to anyone other than global audiences who like confusing noise and chalky digital effects when they’re yoked to a familiar franchise and Marvel camp followers who grow tumid at the idea of a Stan Lee cameo. Others may question whether this even qualifies as a movie. Chris Hemsworth returns as Thor, Natalie Portman as his love interest, and Anthony Hopkins as Odin. None of them look particularly happy to be here.

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