‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ Spoiler Review – ScreenHub Entertainment

Spoilers

After having some strong mixed opinions on Thor: Ragnarok, I was understandably a little apprehensive about its sequel, Love and Thunder. The trailers looked interesting, but just how bizarre Taika Watiti was there to be? I like many of his works, from The Hunt for the Wilderpeople to Jojo Rabbit and his episode of The Mandalorian. But with Thor, I often found he was being weird and quirky for the sake of it. As such, Love and Thunder is a conflicting movie. It has some fun moments, an awesome soundtrack and a good overall story, but its humour once more compromises the drama. Not only that, but the humour this time isn’t even as good or memorable. Let’s dive in.

Thor: Love and Thunder once again stars Chris Hemsworth as the God of Thunder. He’s been having something of an identity crisis of late, trying to find his place in the galaxy. He found some kinship and camaraderie with the Guardians of the Galaxy, but they didn’t fill the vacant hole in his heart. As a note, yes, the Guardians are barely in this movie. When a distress call comes out about Gods being killed by one Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), Thor embarks on a quest to stop him. While this is going on, we learn that Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) has stage 4 cancer. She believes Mjolnir, Thor’s former weapon, could bestow her renewed health and the hammer answers that call, bestowing her the powers of the Mighty Thor, thanks in part to a spell of sorts that Thor put on the hammer unintentionally in their past. Now, the two Thors team up to stop Gorr while also seeing if they can rekindle their love.

[Credit: Marvel Studios]

This is an odd and difficult movie to critique. There’s quite a bit I did like about Love and Thunder, which looking at the reviews, was something of a surprise for me. Maybe I went in with lower expectations and ended up liking it more than I did. But there’s also a good deal of stuff that didn’t work for me. Chief among that is the humour. The jokes in Love and Thunder feel significantly less improvised than they did in Ragnarok overall, but the jokes also didn’t land nearly as well overall. Not much stands out as vividly as “get help” or as “friend from work/I need to get off this planet”. In fact, much of the jokes seemingly compromised the drama, which was something I was very critical of with Ragnarok, specifically Korg’s quip about “the foundations”. That sort of joke is far more prevalent in Love and Thunder. Did I get a small chuckle in the moment? Sometimes, sure I admit it. But then I’d immediately think about the scene and think “now is not the time for that joke”. That’s a sentiment I thought more than once during the two-hour runtime; that and a sense of the jokes were trying too hard to be funny. There were some genuinely funny moments peppered here and there though, don’t get me wrong, some of the jokes worked. Just overall, I felt one in four did. And sure, humour is subjective, so maybe you’ll enjoy it more than I did.

Likewise, I felt the stakes were a bit all over the place. Jane’s cancer is treated very well, but Thor seemingly murders Zeus in front of countless other deities and no one bats an eye. In fact, the scene is once again played for laughs but Thor basically lashed out in anger and killed the big daddy god with zero consequences. It felt weird and hollow. There’s also a lot of death fake-outs, from Valkeryie to Korg, both seemingly get killed off and it would have added some emotional depth to the movie, but nope everyone’s fine. Even Zeus is fine in the end, as revealed in the post-credit scene where he issues Hercules to go after Thor.

[Credit: Marvel Studios]

I got that impression in the very first scene of the film, which establishes Gorr. Christian Bale shines as the villain in the movie, but is severely underutilized. In fact, we never actually see him butcher any gods, just the aftermath of his actions. It does create a disconnect between him and his actions and makes him less threatening. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Bale channeled Heath Ledger’s Joker for some of the scenes as Gorr. Which brings me to the inevitable clash of tones that will linger throughout the runtime. In the opener, Gorr is a man of the cloth and after the death of his child in the middle of an arid desert, stumbles upon an oasis inhabited by the god he worships, Rapu. On paper, the scene should have been quite dramatic, and overall it was, but Rapu and Gorr felt like they were in two different movies during their back and forth, one the serious drama, one the quirky indie comedy. The tone clashed for a bit there and was a sign of how Love and Thunder would largely be handling humour. Thankfully, director and co-writer this time around Taika Watiti (yes, Watiti didn’t write Ragnarok), keeps Gorr as a serious and menacing figure whenever he’s on screen and never goes for the gag with him. In fact, he never goes for the gag in relation to Jane’s condition either, which was a huge sigh of relief, considering the gravitas and the pain associated with cancer.

[Credit: Marvel Studios]

In her previous two appearances as Jane Foster, Natalie Portman has been both damsel in distress and infatuated love interested with little to her character beyond being “super in love with Thor”. But most people didn’t buy into their love as it felt so forced and unearned. Watiti had a lot of heavy lifting to do then, filling in the blanks of her and Thor’s relationship off-screen and giving us ample motivation to care for their story this time. He thankfully, succeeds in this endeavour. Not only that, but Jane is a far more interesting character with her own agency and motivations. She’s cringy as hell sometimes, but that’s also intentional per the fundamentals of her being the new Thor.

[Credit: Marvel Studios]

Hemsworth’s Thor on the other hand is a complete idiot. In many ways, he’s regressed to the Thor he was in the beginning of the first Thor movie, having little to no care about others. I get that he’s going through an identity crisis, but there’s no reason to make him a bumbling selfish idiot again. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the best iterations of Thor have been from the first movie and from Infinity War, as they juggled the drama and the humour flawlessly. Thor is one of my favourite superheroes and Hemsworth is spot-on casting for the character, but the dumb-dumb act for the sake of a laugh is getting old.

[Credit: Marvel Studios]

Love and Thunder also feels like it’s missing a lot of scenes. Whether it be information or a sense of “wait how did X happen”, it feels like there are chunks of this movie absent. Watiti has even admitted as such, citing that there was a four-hour cut of the movie made at one point on the assembly, but it was too batshit to finish (not to mention too long). But with all that extra footage, a lot feels missing narratively. We also know that the Grandmaster was cut from the film, as well as Lena Headley, who is currently being sued by her agency for unpaid royalties for her cut part. One has to wonder how Love and Thunder would have played out with just an additional thirty minutes of screentime.

On the upside, the film oozes style. Whether it’s the rockin’ soundtrack (complete with four Guns N’ Roses classics), the beautiful visuals (shot largely on the volume, same as The Mandalorian) and a unique sequence in which the colour gets drained from the scene, only for small bursts of light to bring it back. The colour in this movie is great, with very bright designs yet again that feel ripped straight from a 70s comic panel.

[Credit: Marvel Studios]

Thor Love and Thunder is part of the fourth phase in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and many fans and critics, such as myself, are starting to feel some of the magic of the MCU slip away. The MCU kind of put themselves in a corner by making the Infinity Saga conclusion so epic and memorable that everything after it kind of feels lackluster in comparison. Not only that, but we have no goal or objective to this phase, which included lots of talk of the Multiverse but nothing feels carried over or important. Didn’t the timelines split in Loki? How come Dr. Strange’s spell in No Way Home hasn’t had any sort of ramification? Likewise, Doctor Strange’s own journey into the multiverse feels consequence free as well, as most of the action was set in a different reality. So why tout the multiverse if there’s no impact? Who’s the big bad of this whole operation? It kind of feels like the MCU is just going through the motions right now and as such, the fourth phase (barring No Way Home), feels both irrelevant to the overall narrative and also feels the most uninspired.

There’s a bunch more I haven’t talked about, but I feel bringing them up would be either redundant or wouldn’t contribute much to the critique. Tessa Thompson returns as Valkyrie, but doesn’t get too much to do. Russel Crowe shows up as Zeus doing a Greek…ish…accent in one of the zanier scenes of the movie that went on for a little too long. In the end, there was a lot of Love and Thunder I liked and some stuff I didn’t like. I liked it about as much as I did Ragnarok, but for different reasons. I don’t usually give grades, but for the sake of context, both of Taiki’s Thor films would land 7.5 on 10 from me. I think one is funnier, but one has a better overall story, one has better pacing, one feels like it’s missing a lot of content (and so on). Each has its own pros and cons, but if you liked Ragnarok, you’ll probably enjoy Love and Thunder as well.

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