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Originally published November 7, 2013 at 12:15 AM | Page modified November 8, 2013 at 9:39 AM

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‘Thor: The Dark World’: Special effects rule

A three-star movie review of “Thor: The Dark World,” in which sword-wielding warriors battle meanies from outer space. It’s a mess, thanks to its scattershot plotting, but it’s kind of a fun mess. Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Tom Hiddleston star.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie Review 3 stars

‘Thor: The Dark World,’ with Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins. Directed by Alan Taylor, from a screenplay by Christopher L. Yost, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. 112 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence and some suggestive content. Several theaters.

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End credits. They’re a plague and a pox on big-budget Hollywood movies. When everyone from “stereoscopic depth artist” to “digital compositor” gets listed, it often seems like those concluding crawls run nearly as long as the feature itself. But in the case of “Thor: The Dark World,” the faceless hundreds who created the special effects deserve top billing.

I’ll bet you thought the “Avengers,” with its flying aircraft carrier and city-busting climax, was party-out-of-bounds, effects-wise. Psh! Small beer compared with the demolished architecture, invisible spaceship and whooshy wormhole-enabled leaps through time and space that dominate this follow-on to Marvel’s “Avengers” and 2011’s “Thor.” Not to mention the countless eye-popping, ear-shattering battle sequences where sword-wielding warriors mix it up with enemy armies from outer space equipped with ray guns and bazookas.

It’s like “Star Trek” crash-landed in the middle of “The Lord of the Rings.”

So the picture is a mess. But it’s kind of a fun mess.

When you have Tom Hiddleston’s smirking trickster Loki mocking his muscley not-quite brother (Loki’s adopted) Thor (Chris Hemsworth); when you have Kat Dennings’ squeaky-voiced, wide-eyed gal pal of Thor’s beloved Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) admiring the demigod’s muscles; and when you’ve got Stellan Skarsgård running around Stonehenge buck-naked — Yeah, what’s up with that? — there are pleasures to be had from many of the performances.

Hemsworth again uses geniality to offset Thor’s natural stolidness as he hefts his mighty hammer to save the kingdom of Asgard and the endangered Jane. However, it’s Hiddleston’s devious, dangerous Loki — who may be the key to Asgard’s salvation, or its destruction — who holds the scattershot plot together.

But the picture really belongs to the keyboard warriors in their computer work stations whose efforts propel the wild ride through the dark world of this “Thor.”

Soren Andersen:

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