‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ Review: Taika Waititi’s Marvel Return Is a Disappointing Encore
Thor Love and Thunder was a surefire slam to the floor. Director Taika Waititi has returned to the helm following 2017’s enthralling Thor: Ragnarok, with Chris Hemsworth’s Asgardian Avenger firmly in his charmingly comedic style, and Natalie Portman made her epic return to live-action Marvel Cinematic Universe after a nine-year absence.
Surprisingly enough, the 29th MCU film, which debuted at theaters on July 7, will be available on Disney Plus and digital platforms on September 4. 8 is different from what you would expect. In attempting to balance the drama with comedy and blending several classic comic stories into a single story, Thor’s fourth solo adventure has little to offer. It is left looking slightly shallow (even down to the two scenes that follow after the credits).
The film will be released on 4K Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K in September. 27. It will also include behind-the-scenes footage, deleted scenes, and director’s commentary by Waititi for a more home-based watching experience.
It begins promisingly and has a brutal opening that sets up Christian Bale’s evil Gorr, The God Butcher. After his desert-like home world takes the life of his daughter and his son, his encounter with a cruel god, a vengeful god, forces him to lead an army to slaughter all gods that exist.
This intense and slow scene allows Bale’s performance to breathe and allows the audience to sense his increasing anger, despair, and confusion. Then, the Marvel Studios logo rolls in, and the rollercoaster begins. Resonance with emotion? That’s not what you’re receiving in this film.
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Last time we were introduced to Thor in the 2019 film Avengers: Endgame, Thor had joined the Guardians of the Galaxy for various space-based adventures following Thanos’s defeat. However, Thor, the God of Thunder, surpasses all of his new comrades, making him appear like a video game character when they take down their foes and making the Guardians appear a little stale.
We’re treated to a vivid visual action sequence and plenty of collateral damage from superheroes out of it. However, Thor and his rocky allies (he’s made out of stones) and Korg (Waititi) soon decide to go their separate ways, abandoning the Guardians storyline and mostly wasting Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan, and their pals before the plot gets any chance to grow. The movie is just waiting to break away from the tangled continuity and return to the Asgardian storyline that Thor has developed in his solo films.
On Earth, Thor encounters his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Portman) in a fight when Gorr fights Thor’s colleagues, Asgardians. She is wielding the hammer of her old Mjolnir, has been judged worthy in her darkest hours, and has gained powers similar to Thor’s.
Because of the very real human health issues Jane has to face, and this narrative is about Love and Thunder’s heartfelt emotion. The film doesn’t have the time necessary for the difficulty she’s facing to take in, and it’s like it’s scared to be too real and eager to send us off to an adventure to come (the two post-credits scenes diminish some dramatic moments).
The need for speed extends to the action scenes -The action scenes are awe-inspiring – Jane is the most notable character, using her new abilities in incredible ways. Yet, editing and cinematography must allow us to take in the spectacle. There’s a good chance that many scenes from the film will embed into your mind as other MCU movies do. Still, nothing can match the awe-inspiring levels of the Captain America elevator fight, three Spider-Men flying into combat, and Scarlet Witch’s encounter with Illuminati.
The awkwardness of Jane and Thor is fun at first, thanks to Portman and his charisma, as well as their chemistry, but it needs to be developed more engagingly. A single-minded humorous quip concerning Thor and his latest weapon Stormbreaker is more memorable, and even then, it gets a bit stale.
To complete the hero group includes King Valkyrie ( Tessa Thompson). The character is bored with her job as the head of the magical tourist attraction which New Asgard has become (this place also has an amazing deep-cut appearance). Although the film doesn’t examine her frustration enough, Thompson infuses the character with enough fun that she’s enjoyable to watch. Her clothes also suggest a fascinating inside life. Thompson’s Phantom of the Opera shirt is more fascinating than any superhero outfit.
One of the best scenes is a peaceful conversation between Jane and Valkyrie, as it’s not often that you see the film slowing down and giving its writers and actors a chance to communicate emotionally. With Hemsworth’s captivating presence on the screen and his impeccable comic timing, you can’t imagine this movie would’ve been as good without Thor.
After his memorable debut, his threat to the world is diminished. The God Butcher comic book counterpart (introduced by Jason Aaron in his famous 2013 Thor: God of Thunder series) appears to be an enormous threat because Thor pursues a trail of religious slaughter through the universe.
Love and Thunder merely allude to this and reduce Gorr’s crime to abducting Asgardian children in the context of a larger plot. He’s not a direct threat to heroes, which makes him appear less similar to Gorr the God Bothererer.
But Bale’s performance and aesthetic choices give the character lots of spectral boogeymen creepy spectral impressions ( apparently inspired by Aphex Twin’s eerie “Come to Daddy music video). A midpoint battle with the heroes ranks among the MCU’s visually amazing sequences, featuring clever use of shadows and colors.
The film isn’t as awash with cameos as its MCU counterpart, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. However, it does include an action-packed scene featuring Russell Crowe as a selfish God. The problem is that his role is mostly the appearance of a scene that is largely boring as the story moves along.
Love and Thunder don’t live up to the epic stories that have inspired it. It doesn’t delve into its director’s style or maximize its actors’ dramatic potential. It’s more of an unsatisfying and uninteresting mix-up. It’s still an enjoyable and silly entry into the MCU collection. Still, it’s not the original Thor adventure that its handsome character seems to believe he will be in.