Released: 8th July 2022
Director: Taika Waititi
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Jaimie Alexander, Russell Crowe
A rock and roll superhero movie that even screaming goats can’t save, Thor’s latest outing has plenty of love but mainly a blunder.
With Thor: Ragnarok being regarded as one of the best MCU movies and one of my personal favourites it was only natural to feel optimistic about the Asgardian Avenger’s fourth solo movie. More importantly, Taika Waititi, who gave the character of Thor a new lease of life, was at the helm once again which suggested that Love and Thunder would catch the same vibes as its predecessor.
However, there’s a clear dissatisfaction with Marvel’s latest flick which makes me wonder if things are slowly going downhill for the MCU, as it feels like there is no direction on what’s to come next.
Things weren’t all too lousy though, Chris Hemsworth again shows why he’s one of the most entertaining actors alive today with another exhilarating performance as the god of thunder. We see Thor for the first time following the events of Avengers: Endgame, he seems lost but at having sort of purpose with his new teammates the Guardians of the Galaxy. As the trailer showed, the fan favourites return in what can only be described as an introductory cameo. Waititi wants this to be Thor’s movie and, unlike many MCU movies that undervalue their main hero, sends the Guardians off on their way within the first 10 minutes of the movie. Their interactions are amusing as expected and it was good to see them ahead of their next outing in Guradians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 which will be releasing in the next few years.
Thor’s “ragtag motley crew” as he describes them aren’t the only ones making a return however as back on Earth Jane Foster is fighting her own battle to survive cancer. Natalie Portman portrays Jane like we’ve never seen her before, her journey is heartbreaking and the only thing keeping her alive is what reunites her with former love Thor: Mjolnir. Jane and Thor’s relationship develops quite significantly over the course of the story, it’s not your normal encounter with an ex. There’s a sense of competitiveness between them as they both act out as who is the better ‘Mighty’ Thor but more importantly what spawns from them coming together again is the feeling that they cannot lose one another.
Jane’s path merging with Thor’s means they need to both stop Gorr the God Butcherer, who vows to destroy every living god after the loss of his daughter. Christian Bale does an immense job at creating such a chilling and revengeful character although he’s massively underused. Part of his plan is to kidnap all the children living on New Asgard and hold them in the Shadow Realm in attempt to lure Thor into a trap so he can add him to his hit list. There’s one scene in particular with Gorr and the Asgard kids that stood out for me that was so terrifyingly brilliant. I’m just disappointed that the movie didn’t expand on him further, the concept was there but a few interactions with Thor and some fist fights is all we really get to see.
Speaking of the young Asgardian’s we are introduced to Heimdall’s son Axl who serves as the link between the children and Thor for the duration of the movie. You may be asking the following question; Heimdall had a son? That was my immediate thought, I can’t recall it ever being mentioned anywhere but here we are the movie just introduces him for the sake of introducing him I guess. The children play a large role in the movie in general, helping Thor in the final battle after he temporarily gifts them all with his powers and they all team up like the Power Rangers. I’m not going to lie this part was ridiculous and the scenes of tiny children going toe to toe with giant monsters was quite amusing.
A big part of Ragnarok‘s praise was the pleasantly refreshing and rather funny character Korg who pretty much would just say it as it is. Following the release of Ragnarok Korg immediately became a fan favourite, people wanted more and more of him. In Love and Thunder however, I felt that most of his stuff was forced and with exception of a few one liners wasn’t really that funny. The jokes get old after awhile and at certain points it felt like I was watching a bad sketch show full of unnecessary humour particularly with Zeus, played by Russell Crowe, who seemed to be a poor replacement for the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) in Thor: Ragnarok.
There’s the small theme of fatherhood that the movie builds on at points too, Gorr being a father and obviously remorseful over losing his daughter being the main one. There’s also hints that Thor considered building a family with Jane when they were together. Korg even suggests how great a dad Thor would be and the movie gives us that in a sense when a dying Gorr brings his daughter back to life, asking Thor to protect her. Acting as a father figure to Love, he finally has a new meaning and a purpose that he had spent so long trying to find. This is probably their way to slowly wind up the character as let’s be honest, Chris Hemsworth won’t be around forever therefore giving Marvel the option to write him out when needed.
Story and characters aside let’s talk about how the film looked. I couldn’t help but think how awful some of the VFX work was, like at some points it was as if I was watching a low budget sci-fi movie that’s made for television. Marvel have recently came under criticism by VFX workers who have said they are the worst clients to work for and that they have unmanageable deadlines. It showed here as a lot of the work looked unfinished and really amateurish. Take Thor’s helmet for example in one scene looks completely fake like a bad photoshop. These movies used to be praised for their effects and how ravishing they looked but now it’s as if it’s an afterthought.
I also praised Michael Giacchino in my review for Lightyear a few weeks back and he returns again with composing Thor, making it his fifth MCU movie. As I said I gave him so much plaudits for Lightyear and he normally excels at whatever he does however his score for Love and Thunder is mediocre and fails to have any great impact on the movie.
Like I said I’m starting to wonder where the MCU goes next with the number of discouraging movies as of late. I’ll repeat myself again and say ‘Phase 4 ‘ of the franchise would be a complete critical failure had it not been for the success of Spider-Man: No Way Home. It appears however that the momentum is shifting more so towards Disney+ content nowadays which I’d be totally fine with if it means we would get attractive shows with intriguing plots but even they’re falling short of any expectations and I’m struggling to get passed two episodes without losing all interest.
Thor: Love and Thunder is like a lousy Saturday morning cartoon that only has a few worthy moments. With a villain that’s criminally underused and a script full of flaws it appears Taika Waititi is just a one trick pony (or screaming goat) when it comes to the Marvel Universe. When it seemed like the direction of Thor had been cured in Ragnarok, it’s now been hindered with just under 2 hours of appalling gags that neither love or thunder can fix.
Thor: Love and Thunder
Released: 8th July 2022