Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Thor: The Dark World is Pretty Strong

Plus, About Time is schmaltzy but charming, and 12 Years a Slave is Certified Fresh.

by | November 8, 2013 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got the God of thunder (Thor: The Dark World, starring Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman) and a time-traveling romantic (About Time, starring Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams). What do the critics have to say?

Thor: The Dark World


With a half-dozen movie franchises and a network TV series, the Avengers ecosystem has been a commercial juggernaught for Marvel, though one could be forgiven for wondering if the brand is a bit over-extended. Thankfully, critics say Thor: The Dark World is a rock-solid entry in Marvel’s cinematic canon, with enough muscular thrills and goofy humor to compensate for its occasionally confusing plot. This time out, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) must stop an ancient race called the Dark Elves from plunging the cosmos into darkness. Things get personal when one of the elves inhabits the body of Thor’s sweetheart Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), and he’s forced to team up with his untrustworthy brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in order to save the universe. The pundits say Thor: The Dark World suffers from a bit too much exposition, but its action sequences are suitably stirring and Tom Hiddleston’s puckish performance nearly steals the show. (Watch our video interviews with Hemsworth, Hiddleston, Portman, and more, and click through our gallery of Marvel movie heroes.)

About Time


Just because a romantic comedy is saccharine, schmaltzy, and predictable doesn’t mean it won’t turn audiences’ hearts to mush. Critics say that’s the case with About Time, an overly sentimental but often sweet and poignant charmer from Love Actually director Richard Curtis. Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) is a single guy who learns from his father that he has the ability to travel back in time to change his fate. However, when he utilizes his strange gift to woo Mary (Rachel McAdams), he discovers that other aspects of his life don’t quite line up the way he’d like them to. The pundits say that About Time is sometimes sappy and illogical, but Gleeson and McAdams make for an appealing onscreen couple. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down McAdams’ best-reviewed movies.)

12 Years a Slave


After winning raves in limited release, 12 Years a Slave goes wide this week, and critics say it’s arguably the most powerful cinematic depiction of slavery ever captured on film. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup, a free man who’s kidnapped and sold into slavery; he quickly learns that in order to survive, he must suppress his identity and keep his head down while periodically enduring a series of painful and dehumanizing punishments. The pundits say that the Certified Fresh 12 Years a Slave is a painful but important work, thanks to Steve McQueen‘s brilliant direction and an Oscar-worthy performance from Ejiofor.

Also opening this week in limited release:

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