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Wednesday, January 16 , 2019, 9:37 am | Mostly Cloudy 57º


Cinema in Focus: ‘Thor: The Dark World’

The battle between darkness and light, good and evil continues in this Marvel film

2 Stars — Shallow

Thor: The Dark World is a good Saturday afternoon popcorn movie. Banking on the highly successful and profitable Marvel comic-book series captured now on film, Thor returns to once again save the Earth from evil warlords, while at the same time making young women (and some not-so-young women in the theater I was in) swoon with passion over the handsomeness and romantic behavior of the leading man, Chris Hemsworth. This is fun entertainment with little thinking required.

Thor was first brought to the screen in 2011 as the powerful but arrogant god who was cast out of Asgard to live among humans in Midgard (Earth), where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders. He also falls in love with a beautiful young lady.

If this sounds like Superman and Lois Lane, you are not far off. Thor returned in 2012 in the ensemble piece The Avengers, where he joined other superheroes in the same quest to save our planet from alien invaders.

In these earlier stories, we are introduced to Thor's adopted brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who is jealous of Thor's universal popularity as well as his exalted status with their father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Loki's longing for equal status has blinded him to the fundamental characteristic of integrity that Thor possesses, and consequently he can never seem to engender the same response with his peers, or the ladies, or even his parents.

In this latest installment, Thor's world on his home planet Asgard and his adopted world on Earth are threatened by the pure evil that was present at the foundational building of the universe.  This evil, which can manifest itself in human form, is intent on ridding the universe of its illusion of good and return to its presumed rightful place where evil prevails. This evil has its minions that form armies and can attack all known planets (which in this story is remarkably few) once every 5,000 years when their orbits align with one another.

Since this evil power is so strong, Thor has to make the decision whether to trust his half-brother Loki, to join him in this fight. What will their father do in terms of his own loyalties to his sons? Will Loki side with the evil warlords to find some new sense of power previously denied him? After 1,000 calories of popcorn, you might know some of these answers. Or, like the women sitting next to me, you might just be swooning over Thor's sexy outfit and bulging biceps.

Comic books can be, and often are, a form of morality plays. Good always triumphs over evil, and the leading character is usually portrayed as having a sense of purity about them. Sometimes they are troubled (prone to sin?) in their character, such as Batman, but in the end they seek redemption and choose to give their all for the sake of righteousness.

Thor has staying power and will probably be back soon in another attempt to save the world and the women in it. Men, too, will continue to find something to like in Thor's bravado and charm. While this story might best be described as a Friday night date movie or as Saturday afternoon entertainment for teenagers, in the end it is just good, clean fun.


» The thought that there is an evil that eternally co-exists with good is a form of Dualism. In Christian thought, only good is eternal and evil is a distortion of the good (evil — opposite of — live)? Which do you accept as the reality of good and evil, are they equal in existence and power, or is evil a distortion of the good? How does your answer affect your life?

» The creation of a handsome hero who is a projection of the best of humanity is a common theme in fiction. Why do you think we have such projections?

» The sibling rivalry and parental favoritism is core to literature including the Bible. Have you experienced such rivalry and favoritism, and if so, how have you dealt with it?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.

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