Hold out for a hero

If you pick “Thor” over “Dallas Buyers Club,” you’ll miss Jared Leto as Rayon. (Focus Features)
If you pick “Thor” over “Dallas Buyers Club,” you’ll miss Jared Leto as Rayon. (Focus Features)

Right now, you can go see Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World,” which is about a quasi-god with a giant hammer, or you can go see “Dallas Buyers Club,” which is about a superhero.

There’s a lot about the new “Thor” that doesn’t work, and I say this as a fan of the first movie and “The Avengers.” The tone is all over the place, the 3-D is pointless and Chris Hemsworth only takes his shirt off once. The biggest problem, though, is that the conflict at the center of the movie is entirely unbelievable — not because it involves elves, since “The Lord of the Rings” managed to pull that off pretty well — but because there is nothing new. The universe is in danger again. Whoop-de-do.

But “Dallas Buyers Club.” Oh, “Dallas Buyers Club.” Here, the world isn’t in danger, but real lives are. Matthew McConaughey plays Ron Woodroof, who is diagnosed with HIV in 1985, a time when much of society said that if you got HIV you deserved it and the treatments were nearly as poisonous as the disease.

Not only is McConaughey’s per- formance astounding, but Jared Leto (I KNOW) is a revelation as a transgender woman who goes into a kind-of-maybe-illegal business with Woodroof supplying alternative medications to HIV patients.

Everything about “Dallas Buyers Club” is better than everything about “Thor,” except maybe for Tom Hid-dleston, who, as Loki, tries desperate- ly to make chicken salad out of what he’s been given. Well, “Thor” also probably has better merchandising potential, since I currently have two Mjolnirs of different sizes on my coffee table. (They are not mine.) (I keep mine on my nightstand.) (Not really.)

“Thor” will take in more cash this weekend, and that’s fine, I guess. But why would you go see a movie that I bet will leave you disappointed when you can see a powerful, complex, often-funny film showing the best of what actors are capable of doing? I’m not anti popcorn movie, but I am anti the opinion that “stupid” is a neces- sary hallmark of big-budget crowd- pleasers.

I think most people want good films, films that bring something new into their lives. This weekend you have the opportunity to find that — just pick the movie that sticks to Earth.

Kristen Page-Kirby covers film for The Washington Post Express.
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Holley Simmons | November 8, 2013