Desperate to be funny and emotional, Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder could be so much more effective if it wasn’t trying so hard. The result is a lower-tier Marvel entry that will eventually get lost in the shuffle.
Chris Hemsworth reprises the role of Thor for the eighth time (not counting post-credits). Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Thor travels with the Guardians of the Galaxy on various adventures. When he learns that Gorr (Christian Bale) has the necro-sword, allowing him to kill gods, Thor attempts to stop him.
Meanwhile, the cancer-stricken Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) travels to New Asgard to search for a cure to her cancer. While there, she is granted power and Thor’s broken hammer Mjolnir. When Gorr attacks New Asgard, Thor and Jane are reunited alongside New Asgard king Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and rock-creature Korg (Waititi). Gorr kidnaps the New Asgard children and absconds, hoping to destroy all the gods in the universe.
The playful tone Waititi established in Thor: Ragnarok is ever-present here, but with added sentimentality. Unfortunately, all the jokes and rhythms that worked so well in Ragnarok is forced down your throat in Love and Thunder. Korg’s attitude in Ragnarok was fun and fresh in small doses. In this film, he is the fourth lead and wears out his welcome very quickly. Hemsworth falls into similar traps. He so rarely is serious in this film, his change of pace from Infinity War and Endgame feel like a personality switch.
Portman, on the other hand, has finally fit into the role she played in the original Thor and The Dark World. Whereas she practically sleepwalked through those two films, her physical and emotional investment into the material shines through. It’s a fine redemption for the actress and the character. Thompson similarly regains a lot of her fun from Ragnarok after being sidelined in the previous MCU films.
Bale turns Gorr into a top-tier Marvel villain with clear motivations. He isn’t evil for the sake of evil, and his plight is one of desperation and opportunity. He seems to be having an absolute blast while doing it, despite being covered in pale makeup and scars. Also new to the festivities is Russell Crowe as a depraved, slovenly Zeus. Crowe is also having a ball, and I imagine this won’t be the last time we see him in a gold breast plate and flowing locks.
While it’s unfair to compare this film to Ragnarok, that energy is what the film is so desperately looking to replicate. While it all came together organically and hilariously in 2017, here it feels forced. Waititi and Marvel tried to replicate a rare type of success and deviation from the formula, and it just didn’t work. It’s not embarrassing, it’s just not what it was trying to be.
Thor: Love and Thunder is now showing in theaters
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