Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer
Plot: Thor embarks on a journey unlike anything he’s ever faced — a quest for inner peace. However, his retirement gets interrupted by Gorr the God Butcher, a galactic killer who seeks the extinction of the gods.
Review: When it comes to the MCU, Marvel Studios has for the most part stuck to a very singular way of doing things. It’s hard to argue with the results considering how successful these films have been, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t seen their fair share of complaints when it comes to their formula.
The movies that get the most respect are the ones where they give directors a bit more freedom to express themselves and one of these was Thor: Ragnarok. Taika Waititi took Marvel’s least interesting character and made him a fan favourite by adding his own sense of style to the mix. And while the results weren’t perfect, they were highly entertaining.
Which brings us to his second foray, Love and Thunder. Here you can instantly tell Marvel gave him free reign to do things his way. But maybe instead of taking the training wheels off and letting him go, this movie could’ve benefited from a gentle hand on the shoulder.
Taking place four years after the events of Avengers: Endgame, we catch up with Thor or, more precisely, through narration by Korg (voiced by Waititi), we learn that Thor has gotten back into shape and keeps busy by battling bad guys, or bad aliens if you will, with the help of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Still, Thor has never recovered from losing his first real love Jane Foster. Hiding his pain behind his adventures and frat boy humour works for a time until a message from Sif (Jamie Alexander) brings him back to New Asgard where he encounters not only a new foe in the form of Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale) but also his ex-weapon Mjolnir in the hands of a new Mighty Thor, who turns out to be none other than his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster.
So there’s a lot that works well here and at the top of the list is the cinematography. This movie looks amazing and Waititi’s world building is on full display here as for the first time ever we TRULY get a sense of how vast the galaxy is. Ragnarok touched on this a bit but got stuck on one planet for way too long. The Guardians travelled to a few new places but it all felt a bit similar. And most recently Doctor Strange and his Multiverse hopped, skipped and jumped around via montage, which looked kind of cool but never truly explored these places on a large scale. Here I felt like we got a lot to not only admire from afar but also time to truly enjoy these locations.
The Shadow Realm with its monochromatic scheme, New Asgard with its modern and Norse designs and Omnipotence City where the gods go to play were just a few of the beautifully rendered places we got to explore, and it all went a long way in expanding Thor’s world.
The acting is exactly what you would expect from this caliber of talent. Chris Hemsworth is Thor the way Hugh Jackman will always be Wolverine. Christian Bale (so many Chrises in the MCU!) is a man who never goes the lazy route and so his depiction of Gorr gives us another memorable villain to add to the list of top tier Marvel villains. And Natalie Portman finally got a version of Jane Foster she could put her heart into. Even Russell Crowe seem to be having a time and a half as the god of gods Zeus (crazy Italian accent notwithstanding). And all the other actors did their parts well even if they didn’t have as much screen time.
Where the wheels comes off this coaster is with the humorous bits as well as the lack of gravitas, the latter being a continuing problem for Waititi. Now don’t get me wrong, Love and Thunder does a lot right when it comes to the emotional bits, with us finally getting a properly fleshed out backstory of Jane and Thor’s relationship as well as a heartbreaking opening scene that introduces Gorr. The chemistry between Portman and Hemsworth is still going strong and, like Deadpool, when you strip away all the superhero stuff you’ll quickly realize this tale is at its core, a love story. But once again too much time is invested in getting laughs instead of allowing the more dramatic bits to build and breathe.
You have Christian freakin’ Bale as your villain and he’s barely onscreen?! Why?! We needed at the very least, one montage of Gorr slaying his way across the universe to make him come across as a true threat to Thor. Instead we got a couple of cool moments (I love the scene with him scaring the Asgardian kids) and an ending that felt like it ran out of ideas and out of steam.
As for the comedic stuff, well I love goats as much as the next guy but there’s only so many times one can scream before it stops being funny. It’s almost as if Taika is afraid to go the darker routes, lest he upsets his fans who know him to be “the funny guy”. I’m a HUGE fan of his work but I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss seeing the more serious side of Thor. There’s a balance to be found in this character, one where he’s funny, charming and deep. But this isn’t the movie that delivers that.
As for the shorter runtime, while I think the pacing is good so the story could’ve benefited from an added fifteen minutes or so.
So as Marvel movies go Thor: Love and Thunder is a win. As Thor movies go it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other. I think Ragnarok was the funnier movie while Love and Thunder is the better developed story with the better villain and emotional beats.
There’s a lot to love here but it could’ve been even better with a few tweaks and a lot of overused jokes left on the cutting room floor. Here’s hoping they find that perfect balance the next go around.
Score: 7 out of 10
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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