Despite likable hunk, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, and Taika Waititi’s humor and direction, we weren’t as enamored with this rom-com successor to Ragnarok. Sometimes all the elements are all there, but the result doesn’t quite come together to pull you in.
Director Waititi wrote this script with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson. His comedic influence is evident with silly quips and timing of the jokes. Waititi is also the voice of Korg, the character made of rocks and often losing, his rocks. Waititi gives himself some of the funniest throwaway lines.
With the stellar cast that signed on, including those comprising the Guardians of the Galaxy, we were expecting a huge epic mashup. Instead, The Guardians are vastly underused. They only appear for window dressing in the opening scene and get lost.
The film opens with a totally unrecognizable Christian Bale as a simple man who believes in the goodness of the Gods, praying and pleading for their help to save his dying daughter. Disillusionment and grief leads to his metamorphosis into Gorr, the ugly, reptilian-looking, God Butcher. Waititi is effective in creating a creepy and frightening scene showing why Gorr is on rampage to obliterate the Gods with a sword capable of slaying all holy beings. And the stage is set.
Natalie Portman returns as Jane with Mjölnir (The Hammer) which Thor assigned to protect her, and Thor got the Axe (Stormbreaker). When Thor and his ex-love first meet, Thor lets her know it’s been exactly 8 years, 7 months and 6 days since they’ve seen each other. The film becomes a mess of a rom com with some heavy attempts at serious material thrown in. Of course, you know that Thor and Jane will eventually team up for a climactic fight with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.
New Asgard is an Earth town protected by King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and new Thor (Jane) now the possessor of Thor’s Hammer (Mjölnir). One of The most entertaining scenes are the explanation of how all this came acted out in a play in the town square. Waititi surprised us by casting Loki, Thor and Odin with fun cameos of very well-known actors into this hilarious, tongue-in-cheek, presentation. This is where Waititi shines.
But for the most part, this film feels a lot like sit com come-to-life with the rekindling of Thor and Jane’s relationship. It’s complicated by Jane’s long standing battle with cancer which we think should have been more poignant and connected the audience more emotionally with her situation.
The one character that elicited a strong negative reaction is Russell Crowe’s Zeus. For some reason he speaks with a ridiculous, lispy Italian accent that wouldn’t pass muster for a gangster B-Movie, or The House of Gucci, for that matter. His affected prance down the stairs swishing his flimsy skirt is an embarrassing moment for an actor with a respected resume like Crowe’s. Plus, Zeus’ signature lightning bolt looks so cheap, like a flimsy, plastic or aluminum bright gold novelty thingamabob you might find at a costume shop.
This scene also includes the other cringeworthy moment when Hemsworth bares all. Of course, it’s de rigueur for Hemsworth to show his massive chest, butt there’s more. Waititi even includes swooning women to punctuate the scene. Waititi has running gags through the movie. The most successful are giant bleating goats that pop up out of nowhere. Glad to see he gave personalities to the heroes’ Hammer and Axe which gave Hemsworth a chance to have some fun with it. But it’s not enough. We missed the kind of relationship and humor he had with Hulk in Ragnarok and wish he had been able to show more comedic rapport with other characters in this film.
Bottom line, Jane and Thor are fighting for and with each other to beat the evil Gorr. One brighter spot is that Waititi allows kids to be more than victims in this film. Glad to see the kids empowered to join the battle, turning them into an army of glowing-eyed fighters. But the special effects don’t break any new ground in this film and the scene appeared to be there to give young viewers a reason to cheer from their seats.
The finale turns out to be a huge missed opportunity. Writers Waititi and Robinson went to great lengths to give their villain, Gorr, a backstory that explains how a good and honorable man became disillusioned with the gods. The script, in the final moments, could have his story go full circle to deliver an emotional punch while doing good for Thor and Jane. But the script whiffed.
Even the post clips, there are two of them, lay flat. This film sets Thor on a new family path. Let’s hope Marvel can move past this misstep and pump up the Love and Thunder with more than a weird Zeus, Hemsworth’s bare butt and screaming goats. Waititi manages to create moments but not the epic fun comedy adventure we were THOR-oughly hoping for.
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures 2 Hours 5 Minutes PG-13
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