Director: Taika Waititi
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Christian Bale, Tessa Thompson, Jaimie Alexander, Taika Waititi, Russell Crowe, Natalie Portman
Run Time: 119 mins
Thor: Love and Thunder is the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the fourth solo outing for the Norse God. The first two films were generally regarded as lesser entries in the Marvel canon, although I found aspects to like in both of them. Director Taika Waititi made the transition from smaller budget fare to the Marvel juggernaut and helmed the third film Thor: Ragnarok, which rejuvenated the series. It went hard on the comedy, retaining his signature humour and subverted expectations of what a Thor film should be – ultimately, a refreshingly different and vibrant direction.
After the events of Avengers: Endgame, we find Thor, who has joined the Guardians of the Galaxy, part ways from the team after he learns of a distress signal from warrior Sif (Jaimie Alexander). She has come into contact with Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who is on a quest to kill all gods after the loss of his daughter and his sights are set on New Asgard.
The impending threat of Gorr’s destruction is complicated by Waititi bringing Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) back into the fray (her character was absent in Thor: Ragnarok), who discovers she has stage four terminal cancer and her path crosses with Thor.
Thor: Love and Thunder has attracted some very sniffy reviews and while it’s far from the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s best, it’s perfectly watchable and there’s enough going on in it for it to be worthwhile. Some have commented it is a redux of Thor: Ragnarok and I would disagree – arguably the reason why the reviews have been lukewarm is because Waititi once again subverts expectations, but with some mis-steps.
In many ways, Thor: Love and Thunder feels more akin to Thor and Thor: The Dark World in exploring the relationship between the titular character and Foster. Waititi injects a fair amount of heart and clearly revels in digging deeper into their romantic banter.
Chris Hemsworth once again proves his game as the God and successfully balances both the comedic and tragic elements Thor is exposed to. It’s a welcome return for Portman, too, and the pair share a healthy chemistry.
Christian Bale is excellent as Gorr but he’s woefully underused. Waititi’s decision to bathe the character and his surroundings in black-and-white is inspired, affording the vampiric character a Nosferatu quality.
Outside of Gorr, the film is visually a mixed bag. Some of the visual effects are surprisingly ropey for a film costing $250 million and Marvel has attracted controversy over the treatment of its VFX artists, specifically with this film. A sequence of Thor communicating with a teenager is particularly poorly realised visually and there are also instances of obvious green screen – I don’t see the film aging well in this respect. At least Barry Idoine’s cinematography is interesting, although the score by Michael Giacchino and Nami Melumad is sadly forgettable.
Thor: Love and Thunder isn’t the freshest film in Marvel’s canon but Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok follow-up is a mostly entertaining and sincere outing for the God of Thunder. Waititi doubles down on the humour and the cast are mostly game, although Bale’s villain gets shortchanged in the proceedings. Despite its flaws and ramshackle construction, Thor: Love and Thunder gets enough right to make it worthwhile.
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