Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)

Thor: Love and Thunder2022.

Written and directed by Taika Waititi.
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Jaimie Alexander, Taika Waititi, Russell Crowe, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel and Sean Gunn.

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SUMMARY:

Thor enlists the help of Valkyrie, Korg, and his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster to fight Gorr the God Butcher, who intends to wipe out the gods.

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Writer/director Taika Waititi (alongside Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, who receives story credit) isn’t joking about it Thor: Love and Thunder (the fourth in the series and the second to be directed by Waititi, having previously helmed one of the most sumptuous treats the MCU has ever produced, Thor: Ragnarok) starts. This is in stark contrast to the engaged joking tone of ragnarok, which played to many of his strengths as a filmmaker.

The scene in question shows Christian Bales Gorr (born on a planet with no name) wandering through a desert with his daughter. Tragedy strikes, the Elder Gods mock Gorr, and before you know it he has a deadly blade powerful enough to cut down any god. It’s an emotionally played segment that, despite some quips from the selfish gods, resonates due to Christian Bale’s relatively strong performance. Unfortunately, revenge comes at a price, as this sword corrupts him and robs him of his morale.

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After that, Taika Waititi switches to Thor (Chris Hemsworth; a charismatic match made for the director in Asgard) and dials in comedy. It’s to be expected. It worked last time, and I’m in no way denying that Thor: Love and Thunder should have strayed from jokes and Thor stopped being a bumbling buffoon kept at bay by the many charming supporting characters around him. but Thor: Love and Thunder introduces a compelling emotional core in Gorr the God Butcher, only to largely marginalize the character, and by extension a slithering, spooky twist from Christian Bale 100% enjoying the opportunity to portray this sinister yet contradictory villain to play (one scene calls for him to scare a bunch of caged kids, and there’s no doubt he’s having a blast).

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Instead, about the first hour of Thor: Love and Thunder is a mishmash of different Thor montages and adventures (the former is reminiscent of a more family-friendly version of the first Dead Pool, with the god of thunder slicing his way through a failing relationship with a mortal woman). There’s an early side quest that sees Thor teaming up with the Guardians of the Galaxy and wasting the entire ensemble while trying to amusingly suggest that Thor is too overwhelmed to team up with anyone (or at least the Guardians of the Galaxy). to merge). This also paves the way for Thor to realize that he’s been let down by renowned astrophysicist Jane Foster (a returning Natalie Portman who hasn’t appeared since the MCU bottomed) since his departure Thor: The Dark World) that there is a hole in his lonely heart and that he wants to pursue love again even if it leaves him broken and feeling shitty again because having loved is better than not having.

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Meanwhile, Jane Foster is duly reintroduced and suffers from Stage IV cancer. Of course, she remains dedicated to improving the world through science, but time is running out on her, which eventually leads her to New Asgard (a fishing village/tourist attraction on the Earth) when she learns that something (I won’t reveal what) might be able to heal her. It’s not long before Jane becomes a Thor herself (dubbed the Mighty Thor and in a hilarious voyage fails to provide a solid one-liner before taking down Gorr’s shadow monster henchman) and embarks on a quest to save the unknowing gods gets involved. and more importantly, children that Gorr has brought to his playground (a visually dazzling monochrome space resembling the moon) to set a trap and lure Thor and company there.

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In addition to the winning playful banter between the two Thors, minor players also return, including hilarious rock creature Korg (voiced again by Taika Waititi), Tessa Thompson’s powerful Valkyrie (who can also riff back and forth with Natalie Portman). which makes for some funny lines) and others popping up for a scene or two. There’s also another stage play based on the history of Asgard, packed with cameos but less fun this time, and one of many short tracks that feel like it’s trying to reclaim the magic of Ragnarok while staying in a familiar wheelhouse.

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The problem is that much of this is carried out through an onslaught of endless jokes that, while funny at times, don’t expand on any of those character dynamics. Once again, it also comes down to a chaotic movie that doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do for two-thirds of its running time. The result is not just a feeling of being crushed by jokes, but a beating so severe that the narrative loses all shape and form and everyone begs and prays to the gods that Gorr the Godslayer will grace the screen again. Unfortunately (apart from two oversized goats making the silliest noises) he’s lucky enough to have 30 minutes of screen time.

Luckily, Taika Waititi eventually fixes the ship, but it’s not through comedy. The last part drastically switches to a touching story about love and loss and how we choose to deal with it. Marvel always struggles with memorable villains, which is far from an issue here, aside from the fact that Christian Bale is underutilized. Yes, his performance falls somewhere between hammy and downright scary, but alongside some jaw-dropping battles against Thor and his friends, there’s also a dark conflict with the character. Also, everyone who loved the Led Zeppelin needle stops by Ragnarok will shine and smile from ear to ear at Taika Waititi’s lightning-fast use of some Guns N’ Roses classics (especially the closing use of Sweet Child O’ Mine, resulting in an adrenaline-pumping spectacle with sharpness). Taika Waititi also knows how to balance licensed music with a remarkable orchestral score by Michael Giacchino so that one doesn’t overwhelm the other.

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On the downside, some action beats didn’t survive Marvel’s budget cuts, outfitted with CGI that could use some touch-ups (there’s a character reveal during one of the final credit scenes that just looks unfinished) and overly glossy stage sets. Most of the time this goes unnoticed as Taika Waititi is adept at portraying these characters fighting with exciting maneuvers and weapons. However, his greatest weapon for Thor: Love and Thunder, the actual thunder would have been a finely tuned balancing act between comedy and drama, so to speak. The final 45 minutes puts in a lot of power and involves serious stakes and consequences, but it’s nowhere near enough to make this love. It’s certainly entertaining and flies by (Hallelujah, a sub-two-hour Marvel movie), but another so-so MCU entry that suggests these films, regardless of how much money they make, are creatively running on steam could.

Flickering Myth Rating – Movie: ★★★ / Movie: ★★★

Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the editor of Flickering Myth Reviews. Check here for new reviews, follow mine Twitter or letterboxd or email me at [email protected]

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