Movie Review: Thor Love and Thunder
Rating 2 and 1/2 Stars
As the credits came to a close and Thor: Love and Thunder finished with a final post-credits scene, there was a perturbed atmosphere of indifference among my fellow movie-goers.
The fourth installment of the Thor series wasn’t lacking in dazzling special effects or beautifully conceptualized environments. In other words, director and writer Taika Waititi isn’t lacking in artistic vision and is certainly given the necessary funds and resources to express that vision. At least one would assume so from the product shown on screen.
Maybe I and the Marvel Cinematic Universe have finally reached an impasse. Marvel has been relentless in their effort not only to flood the entertainment market with their stories but they’ve made it a labor of love and aren’t without innovation. The MCU is kind of like the Apple iPhone or the Call of Duty franchise. While the base of what they provide remains the same, they continuously update their material incrementally to coerce the populace into shelling out our income so that they can eventually drop a big new update every few years that’s (possibly) worth the hype and wait.
Thor: Love and Thunder isn’t meant to be the big new update, nor does it inspire to be much more than your standard fare of quippy dialogue and wink-wink fan service easter egg moments.
It’s the script that unfortunately lets Love and Thunder down. The writing that propelled Thor: Ragnarok and revived Thor as a fan favorite in the MCU didn’t deliver on lightning striking twice. I could see some of the gags such as a pair of large screaming goats getting laughs out of a younger audience, but there are wasted laugh lines that receive only blank stares from any group. Love and Thunder isn’t bereft of comedic lines and moments, but while it evokes a similar energy to Ragnarok, Love and Thunder comes off as a film that was overwritten.
There’s an insistence on gags and prop humor that is sometimes warranted and other times unnecessary. When Waititi has to shift his script tonally to adjust for more sentimental purposes, the connection between characters is lacking.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) ends up reuniting with his love interest Jane (Natalie Portman) after they broke up due to good old-fashioned growing apart. Thor grew distant as he traveled the universe fighting evil ferbies and Jane got cancer. Jane feels a calling towards Thor’s old hammer Moljnir which transforms her into a godlike being. This blessing comes at a cost though when Jane doesn’t wield Moljnir. Thor and Jane reconnect as a new foe captures the children of New Asgard.
Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale, in a delightfully menacing but underutilized performance) needs to get the attention of Thor and jack his magic axe which I’m sure also has a cool name. Gorr is primed to travel to the center of the universe and will be granted one wish for his troubles. Gorr has a beef with the Gods as he lost his daughter and nothing could be done to save her. I feel a bit out of the loop as to if Gorr had a more nuanced beef with the Gods. It’s yet another Marvel film in which a compelling villain is drastically underdeveloped.
Thor is also joined by King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) who manages the day-to-day operations of Asgard and the impossible-to-dislike rock being Korg (voiced by Waititi). Russell Crowe makes an appearance as Zeus.
Love and Thunder is more than competently designed and not incompetently written, but the result is a mostly uninspiring experience. In that context, my rating may not be harsh enough. I find it hard to discredit the painstaking work done to make Waititi’s vision come to life on screen. There’s a black and white scene in the film that is visually spectacular. The entire film is visually gorgeous as a wide color palette splashes the screen scene to scene. Waititi postures Gorr with some fun horror elements. His sword composes freakish monsters that perhaps could’ve used some more polish and definition.
Hemsworth still has a solid grasp on Thor’s characterization as a dummy jock with repressed emotional trauma that he has to overcome. Guns N’ Roses also received some sizable royalties.
While Thor: Love and Thunder is watchable and inoffensive, it lacks the needed flair in what is ultimately a bland and dull story arc.