Thor reunites with Jane and faces off against Gorr in a tonally uneven and ultimately inconsequential adventure
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Christian Bale, Tessa Thompson, Taika Waititi, Russell Crowe, and Natalie Portman
Directed by: Taika Waititi
Tagline: Not every god has a plan.
hor: Love and Thunder is like a jigsaw puzzle that someone emptied onto a table and then didn’t bother to assemble. All the pieces are there, but they’re just haphazardly sitting in an unkempt pile, waiting for someone to put them together and bring some order to the mess. Ok, most of the pieces are there. Some of these pieces don’t even belong to this puzzle. Why exactly are they here?
The dissectologist in this case is one Taika Waititi, an inventive, imaginative, irreverent filmmaker who also helmed the previous Thor instalment and who can, when he is in his element, make things that are both fun and funny. Here though, he struggles with the balance between drama and wit, unable to land on a cohesive tone that complements the story. Most of the humour falls flat, often decimating the dramatic tension in the process.
The protagonist (portrayed by Chris Hemsworth), meanwhile, doesn’t seem to have anything interesting left to bring to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), at least based on this redundant adventure which doesn’t add much to the series or gives us any real sense of what Marvel plans to do with the franchise.
One of the few OG Avengers still left standing, Thor appears to be stuck with what seems to be a contractual obligation to rediscover himself every time he’s onscreen, his overall journey more unengaging that exciting, despite a reunion with a lost love that should theoretically have injected some heart into the franchise.
That lost love, of course, is Jane (Natalie Portman), a character, we presume, was missed by someone somewhere. Maybe. But despite copious attempts at emotional weight – she wields Mjolnir and becomes the Mighty Thor while battling cancer and rekindles her romance with the titular hero – her return fails to make the impact it should.
Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Korg (Waititi) are also there, although it’s hard to tell why.
Then there is Gorr (a terrific Christian Bale, the highlight of the film despite being underutilized), the antagonist who is hell bent on killing all gods. An intriguing character who deserves to be shown in a much better, much darker film, Gorr simply doesn’t have enough screen time; his transformation from heartbroken to ruthless should’ve been given a closer look, the outcome of his wrath not relegated to off-screen.
Also, there’s a lot of music by and references to Guns N’ Roses in the movie, which … why? Really though: why?
All in all, Thor: Love and Thunder is lacking in both love and thunder, and could have used more dramatic tension and more palpable, affecting stakes. Given how bland much of Phase 4 has been so far, it looks like Marvel still doesn’t quite have a handle on their post-Endgame trajectory, an issue they need to sort out sooner rather than later for the health and longevity of this mammoth franchise.
Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection