The nine realms are about to converge in Thor: The Dark World—but don't expect to keep them all straight. The jumping from world to world in director Alan Taylor's film, starring Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman, appears to have left critics scattered. (It's got a 69% rating from them at Rotten Tomatoes, though audiences are at 86%.)
- For Joe Morgenstern at the Wall Street Journal, watching it was painful. "Most of the action is generic, though sufficiently straightforward to provide relief from the incoherent storytelling," he writes. But "this action-adventure sequel from Marvel soon turns so dumb and 3D-murky that it hurts."
- Ian Buckwalter at NPR is in the opposite camp. "Taylor allows the film to hurtle with the force of Thor's hammer into pure popcorn-spectacle territory," he writes. Plus, it "contains some of the most gorgeously rendered images in the Avengers films."
- While praising Tom Hiddleston, who plays Thor's adopted brother Loki, Chris Knight at the National Post writes that you need a "Field Guide to Superheroes" to keep it all straight. Still, Taylor "manages to keep the action light on its feet despite numerous locations and a host of minor characters."
- Michael O'Sullivan at the Washington Post likes the "gorgeous" cinematography and says Hiddleston "steals the show." But "I'm left with way more questions than I can answer," he writes. Like "Is Thor getting dumber, or am I?" It's slow to start "and features too many undeveloped threads."