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Thor: Love and Thunder (A Movie Review)

Thor: Love and Thunder


Starring Chris Hemsworth, Christian Bale, Tessa Thompson, Jaimie Alexander, Taika Waititi, Russell Crowe, Natalie Portman, India Hemsworth, Matt Damon, Sam Neill, Luke Hemsworth, Melissa McCarthy, Ben Falcone, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgard, Simon Russell Beale, Idris Elba, Chris Pratt, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Sean Gunn and the voices of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper.

Screenplay by Taika Waititi & Jennifer Kaytin Robinson.

Directed by Taika Waititi.

Distributed by Focus Features. 119 minutes. Rated PG-13.

As the tendrils of the Marvel Cinematic Extended Universe continue to extend out over the entirety of pop culture you end up with things like Thor: Love and Thunder – imperfect but somewhat entertaining chapters that move the entire hulking storyline up incrementally but are only somewhat enjoyable as a stand-alone.

The Thor thread took a sharp left turn in the last film Thor: Ragnarok – going from the impossibly grave theatrics of Thor: The Lost World into a wilder, goofier, more humble direction. With the return of Ragnarok writer/director Taika Waititi, the new film continues to straddle both worlds of Thor’s existence. Honestly, to a certain extent the goofy asides – while almost always welcome – seem to be struggling against the more traditional heroic moves of the characters in this film in a way which was less noticeable in Ragnarok.

It’s kind of a beautiful mess. Even the subtitle shows off the film’s slightly awkward, schizophrenic structure. Love and Thunder? What is that supposed to mean? (In fairness, the explanation of the term is eventually made, but it’s not really an overly satisfying one.)

In the long run, Love and Thunder is middling MCEU fare – mostly rather enjoyable, with another terrific performance by Chris Hemsworth in the title role and a welcome return of Natalie Portman – but also somewhat forgettable. It’s certainly better than The Lost World, but it’s arguably less enjoyable than the other two Thor movies. It’s mostly great fun, but it’s rarely much else.

Which is kind of a shame, because Thor: Love and Thunder has all the aspects needed for a good Marvel blockbuster – a charismatic hero, a sweet tale of unrequited love, a (mostly) fascinating and scary villain, intriguing sidekicks, nightmare dreamscapes, even a guest appearance by Zeus, the king of gods. Not to mention it also has some screaming goats guiding their ship.

Thor is in the middle of a life crisis (which leads to a totally unnecessary cameo by the Guardians of the Galaxy) when he learns of a new supervillain known as Gorr. Gorr has taken it upon himself to kill all the Gods, out of anger and vengeance. Christian Bale (formerly known as Batman in the DC universe) makes for a complex and intriguing villain, at least until the end. (More about that later.)

While trying to capture Gorr, Thor finds out that there is a new superhero, using his costume, his name, and even his old hammer which Thor had believed was destroyed. It turns out that the new female Thor is Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) – the one who got away in Thor’s life. (Extra credit to the filmmakers for accompanying the flashback montage of Thor’s relationship with Jane dying out to ABBA’s “Our Last Summer.”)

Much of Thor: Love and Thunder takes place in New Asgard, which is quite different from the old Asgard of the first two Thor movies. No longer a world of Ancient Greece opulence, New Asgard is more like a tiny Scottish fishing village. Gorr comes to their world and kidnaps all the children of New Asgard and imprisons them in the Shadow Realm as a way to trap Thor.

Thor leads a ragtag troupe of himself, Jane, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and rock monster Korg (director Waititi) to track down and stop Gorr.

One pet peeve which I will not specify due to spoilers, but in the end, the evil villain Gorr has something very specific in common with the last Marvel film villain – Wanda in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Not only does it seem rather out of character for Gorr, but it’s also kind of patronizing to the audience.

Still, even if it is far from a perfect Marvel film, Thor: Love and Thunder does have enough going for it that I’m looking forward to finding out what is next for Thor.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2022 All rights reserved. Posted: July 8, 2022.

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