After the events of Avengers: Endgame, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has joined forces with the Guardians of the Galaxy, flying around space and helping those in need. Still struggling to figure out who he is and what drives him, Thor rushes to the aid of a friend where he learns that Gorr the God-Butcher (Christian Bale) is tracking down and killing all of the gods of the universe. Vowing to stop Gorr, Thor returns to Earth to find his ex-girlfriend, Jane (Natalie Portman) is now the Mighty Thor, complete with the ability to wield a re-formed Mjolnir. Together with Korg (Taika Waititi) and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Thor must track down Gorr and stop him before he destroys all of the gods.
Note: This is a spoiler-free review.
Let me say this up front – I am not a huge fan of jokey-Thor. While I thought Thor: Ragnarok was a breath of fresh air and a pretty enjoyable film, I miss the weighty, dramatic, Shakespearean Thor from the first two Thor and Avengers films. The character has done a complete 180, and while Hemsworth proves time and again that he is more than capable of balancing humorous scenes with dramatic scenes, funny Thor is just not my cup of tea.
That being said, I enjoyed Love and Thunder, for the most part. It suffers from sequel-itis, meaning that it tries to top everything that Ragnarok did, and while several of the big swings hit the mark, several more miss it and end up distracting from the shockingly sad and somber story that is being told. I can’t help but wonder what this movie would have been like in the hands of a more dramatic director.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Waititi is great both on screen and off, but every time a more dramatic moment hits, there is always a joke or a gag that serves to undercut the tension of the scene. If you’ll excuse this clunky metaphor, this made the whole movie feel like an interrupted sneeze. Every time you are about to get that wonderful dramatic release, a screaming goat comes in to remind you just how WaCkY this movie is.
And can we talk about the length real quick? At one hour and 59 minutes, including credits, this is one of the shortest MCU films, which I was excited about going into the movie. Not every movie needs to be near three hours long. After seeing it, I actually wish it was a little longer. The first half especially moved at break-neck speed, not giving us enough time to get reaquanted with these characters and understand what was going on (something that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness suffered from as well). A little more time to flesh out some of these stories and characters would have been welcome.
Returning cast members do a fine job – Valkyire is woefully underserved and the Guardians are in peak Guardian, albeit brief, form. The standout has to be Natalie Portman, who returns to her role from the first to Thor films and is this time around given much more to do. I was never a huge fan of Jane Foster in the first two movies; she was only ever there to act as the straight man to all of the space-fairing Viking action. She absolutely rules in Love and Thunder, and is given a story that is wholly her own and not tied into what Thor is doing. It is a welcome change of pace for the character and makes the fact that she is the object of a literal god’s affection that much more believable. Their chemistry is off the charts in a way that it never was before, and I loved every single scene featuring both of them. They even managed to keep some of the quirky, nerdiness of her character from the first two films with her need to come up with her own superhero catchphrase, making a nice connection to her previous appearances.
There was a lot of hype around the casting of Christian Bale as the villain, Gorr, and I have to say he is pretty much just there throughout the movie. Bale is a phenomenal actor, and Gorr is a compelling, relatable villain, but Bale vacillates from vaudevillian smarm to menacing dread, sometimes within the same scene. Its almost as if he were playing two completely different characters. While certainly better than Laufey and Malekith, he is lacking the charm and charisma of Hela and Loki.
Russell Crowe as Zeus, on the other hand, I absolutely loved. Yes, much of the character was played for jokes, but I think it makes sense for where gods are in this story. Far removed from the gods of Greek mythology (or Egyptian, or Chinese, or… dumpling), these gods are lazy, full of themselves, and have forgotten their purpose in the universe. I’m very interested in what Marvel is doing with gods, with Moonknight and Black Panther and Shang Chi exploring different myths and legends, and seeing all of the various gods together was an easter-egg-filled delight.
Final Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Thor: Love and Thunder is being billed as the MCU’s first romantic comedy, which I suppose is accurate, but I think it is much more a story about what drives a person. Each major character has to look inside their heart to figure out what drives them, with some characters going in interesting directions. Though some of the gags and jokes distract from the more poignant parts of the movie, it is an enjoyable ride with a character we have watched for over ten years in eight different films.
Without getting into spoiler territory, the best part of the movie is the end, and how this furthers the legacy and story of many of these characters – post credits scenes included. I love that director Taika Waititi was able to hide a movie of self journey and finding your self worth within the trappings of a goofy rom-com. And though I wish he would keep his inner six-year-old boy in check sometimes, I (mostly) love what he has done to these characters by the time the credits roll.
While not a perfect film, and not even the best Thor film (that honor goes to the very first one, don’t @ me), Thor: Love and Thunder (a title which takes on a whole new and absolutely beautiful meaning by the end of the movie) did exactly what a Marvel movie is supposed to do: it entertained me and left me excited for where to see these characters next.
Mark Pereira is a senior writer for Boss Rush Network. He loves all video games, but his top three favorites are Skyward Sword, Super Mario 3D World and Batman: Arkham Asylum. You can find him on Twitter where he’s usually talking about Nintendo, video games, movies, and TV shows.
Featured Image Source: GameRanx