July 8th, 2022
MOVIE: THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER
STARRING: CHRIS HEMSWORTH, NATALIE PORTMAN, CHRISTIAN BALE, TESSA THOMPSON
DIRECTED BY: TAIKA WAITITI
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
It’s nothing new that Marvel movies like to play the hits. That’s their entire motivation, a universe where the heroes we love deliver the goods, the “Avengers Assemble” and “Hulk Smash” moments that make the audience stand up and cheer. That’s not a terrible thing, as Kevin Feige and his team know what the fans want, and they willingly oblige them. On the other side of that is fan service and the fact that the Marvel brand has increasingly become repetitive. Thor: Love and Thunder continues the saga of the hammer wielding Asgardian, after his dive into depression in Avengers: Infinity War and his comeback to greatness in Avengers: Endgame, as he now sprints back into his next adventure. However you may see it, Love and Thunder repeats the concoction that director Taika Waititi made in Thor: Ragnarok, adding a few new characters, a God killing villain, and a lot of Guns N Roses to make a moderately enjoyable ride. It’s much too similar to what came before but there is just enough spark in Thor: Love and Thunder to recreate the electricity.
The setup of Love and Thunder is focused on our new villain Gorr (a gaunt and dejected Christian Bale, delivering a performance that is one of the best villains since Killmonger in Black Panther) wandering the desert with his only daughter, praying to his God of the sun to respond in his time of need. It’s when he comes face to face with his golden savior when he decides to take his loss of faith out on him, gaining the power to destroy all Gods. This soon becomes Thor’s problem, as the people of New Asgard find themselves caught in the midst of Gorr’s rage. It’s in this moment where Thor decides to come back from his brief stint with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and joins his rock buddy Korg (voiced by Waititi), King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and the return of Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), only this time Jane is wielding the power of Mjolnir as a new Mighty Thor.
When we catch up with Thor’s past lover, things are not as rosy as we would hope, as she’s been struggling with cancer and when she’s lost all hope, it is here when she reaches for her connection with the God of Thunder. The power of Thor sadly only helps prolong her issues, but it does help put together a mighty team, as they venture to a new island of God’s, where they meet the all mighty Zeus (played by a delightfully fun Russell Crowe), seeking help to defeat Gorr and his sinister plans. That ultimately becomes the major focus, with the action building to Thor facing off against Gorr in a universal battle of good versus pure evil, with the often Taika Waititi style quips from characters along the way. There’s plenty of moments to evoke light hearted fun, but it’s that easy going approach that often pushes against the themes and villains that Thor typically finds himself up against.
If one takes a step back from Love and Thunder it’s not hard to notice that it’s much too similar to everything Waititi did in Ragnarok. The screenplay is written by Waititi and Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, mixing in the goofball brand of New Zealand humor, which includes a pair of screaming goats, Thor always confident in himself no matter how embarrassed he can get, and a hilarious love spat between his axe stormbreaker and his old hammer Mjolnir. The plot points, however, are just new-style Ragnarok. It starts with a boost of confidence, Thor finding himself in a strange new place, and builds to the big battle with the bad guy. It’s one thing for Waititi to go back to the well, but it is another thing for him to simply repeat himself, creating few discernable differences between the two Thor installments.
The biggest highlight is the return of Portman and the arrival of Bale and Crowe. All three Oscar winners and all three characters short-changed. The biggest disappointment is what they do with Portman, whose entire presence feels like a tease, as she’s able to wield the power of Thor only for it to be taken away. Bale’s character is absolutely terrifying, a dejected man with the anger to destroy great beings, and it’s on display with Bale’s typically deeper method style of performance. Sadly, he’s still given the Marvel villain treatment, as his villainy is only the tip of his sword, making his presence more of an inconvenience than a threat. Crowe is the one with the best time spent, as his Zeus is both hilarious and memorable, which will leave audiences with enough to hope we see him in the future. Collectively, they all make an impact and still feel like cogs in the Marvel machine.
It’s genuinely not all bad and that’s because Thor: Love and Thunder has a strong energy. For the Marvel cinematic universe that’s still below the bar. Hemsworth is always charismatic and Waititi is interested in digging into themes about what it means to believe in a God, something that’s much deeper than just multiverses. Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness had enough Sam Raimi style to get by, but we expect more out of our Thor at this point. Ragnarok was a big success and to just repeat that is a missed opportunity to swing a new hammer. There’s a good amount of stuff to Love but there’s not enough Thunder. This Thor installment is more of a drizzle.
THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER IS IN THEATERS THIS FRIDAY JULY 8TH, 2022
2 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady