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Thor: Love and Thunder Review

July 8, 2022 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Thor Love and Thunder - Still 1 Image Credit: Walt Disney Company, Marvel Studios
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Thor: Love and Thunder Review  

Directed By: Taika Waititi
Written By: Taika Waititi and Jennifer Kaytin Robinson; Based on the Marvel comics and characters created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby, and Jason Aaron
Runtime: 120 minutes
MPA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language, some suggestive material, and partial nudity

Chris Hemsworth – Thor
Natalie Portman – Jane Foster
Christian Bale – Gorr the Godbutcher
Tessa Thompson – Valkyrie
Taika Waititi – Korg
Russell Crowe – Zeus
Jamie Alexander – Sif
Chris Pratt – Peter Quill/Star-Lord
Dave Bautista – Drax the Destroyer
Karren Gillan – Nebula
Pom Klementieff – Mantis
Bradley Cooper – Rocket
Vin Diesel – Groot
Sean Gunn – Kraglin

Chris Hemsworth is back once again as Marvel’s God of Thunder, Thor, in the new sequel, Thor: Love and Thunder. Hemsworth re-teams with Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi for another intergalactic adventure as Thor is confronted by a lost love from his past, Jane Forster (Portman), along with a deep-seated fear that’s been eating away at him for years.

Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Thor has shed his despair-eating weight and gotten back into tiptop shape to assist the Guardians of the Galaxy with their interstellar derring-dos. After some mysterious distress calls, Thor and Korg part ways with the Guardians, who seem all-too-happy to finally be rid of their meathead cohort. Thor discovers that an individual armed with a legendary, deadly weapon called the Necro Blade, Gorr the Godbutcher (Bale), is waging a campaign of genocide across the universe, and New Asgard is his next target.

Thor’s return to his people also brings shock as he’s brought back into contact with one Jane Foster. She visits New Asgard on an utter whim that there might be a possible answer to her terminal illness. The shattered remains of Thor’s long-lost hammer, Mjolnir, called to Jane and granted her the powers of Thor, making her New Asgard’s newest defender. Along with Valkyrie and Korg, the new duo of Thors now has to team up to rescue New Asgard’s kidnapped children and stop Gorr before he reaches his ultimate goal.

There is a lot to like about Thor: Love and Thunder. Taika Waititi displays a dynamic visual style. He imbues the film with a sense of comedic energy and a comic book, rock ‘n roll style as well. Some of Waititi’s shots in the film look like dynamic superhero art ripped out of a comic panel. When Thor or other heroes are sailing through the air about to slam down into their enemy, it looks awe-inspiring and majestic.

Another impressive and stunning narrative locale is depicted when the heroes enter Gorr’s ominous Shadowrealm. It’s a domain devoid of life and color, where Gorr’s shadows hold complete sway. The only flashes of color are seen when the heroes use their powers. It’s a place that externalizes Gorr’s state of mind. Waititi excels in visually realizing these unique locations. There is another unexpected appearance from a deep cut in the Marvel Universe that appears as an interesting surprise later in the film. This is one thing that trailers and TV spots have yet to spoil.

Secondly, it’s great to see the story finally revisit the Thor and Jane relationship. Their romance always felt wildly unresolved in the previous films after Portman was quietly written out of the story. Waititi and co-writer Jennifer Kaytin Robinson figured out a brilliant way to reintegrate Jane Foster back into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and back onscreen with Thor, along with Jane having her own superhero arc.

Jane’s role and arc with Thor is undoubtedly the main draw of Love and Thunder. The audience is allowed a chance to see why these two people, despite a whirlwind romance, sadly grew apart. Rather than being told what happened, the film features an entertaining sequence that depicts the highs and lows of Thor and Jane’s relationship. It could have been its own movie or standalone Disney+ series, The Superhero Break-Up.

Natalie Portman is delightful now that she’s back in the picture. She is clearly having fun, both as Jane and as newly empowered “Mighty Thor.” Not to mention, she and Hemsworth have great chemistry and play well off of one another.

Waititi and Hemsworth’s pairing focuses a lot more on the goofier, comedic side of Thor. However, Hemsworth makes sure to display a genuine heart to the character, both in his love for Jane and his palpable fear that is brought front and center.

Christian Bale’s Gorr is undercooked. It’s nice to see Bale take a villainous turn in a film such as this. That said, while it looks like the building blocks of a decent character and villain are there, the characterization never comes together. Gorr’s descent into despair and villainy starts off quite promising. He is a serious, no-nonsense, and tragic character who suffers a devastating loss. His turn into a “Godbutcher” is understandable from his perspective.

The drawback is that Bale’s performance is inconsistent at times. There are times when Gorr looks foreboding, but at other times he lacks menace. Elsewhere, it seems that Bale has not fully formed his character’s voice and personality. Additional sequences showcasing Gorr’s mayhem across the Marvel Universe could have underscored Gorr’s terror. Also, the look the production opted for Gorr is dull and uninspired compared to his comics counterpart.

While Thor: Love and Thunder handles the Thor and Jane relationship very well, other areas lack gravitas and progress too flippantly. Taika Waititi often plays very fast and loose with his own rules. Too much time is wasted on what turns out to be little more than glorified, elaborate plot devices.

For example, there is the sequence where Thor and his comrades journey to Omnipotence City and meet Zeus. Omnipotence City is depicted onscreen as a visually exciting location. It is amusing to see Russell having fun as Zeus, but the entire sequence is perfunctory in its overall role for the rest of the plot. It’s little more than elaborate sequel bait, which the MCU and other prospective franchise pictures have fallen prey to beforehand. The problem with sequel baiting is that while it can set up some exciting events for the future, it can also detract from what’s actually unfolding onscreen. The trip to see Zeus serves little purpose other than setting up future installments.

While it’s nice to see Jamie Alexander back in the fold again as Sif, she is given far too little to do. There is no mention about whether she is even aware of the destruction of Asgard, what happened to all her friends in Thor: Ragnarok and Infinity War, and where she has been for the last ten years or so. Her appearance is so inconsequential that it could have easily been cut from the film.

Waititi provides the film with a couple of fun callbacks to Ragnarok and even some Marvel YouTube shorts. While the film mainly plays as an action-adventure superhero comedy, Waititi can get serious when it counts. Thor’s deep fear makes him a much more well-rounded character and brings his emotional vulnerability to the forefront. That, coupled with bringing his relationship with Jane full circle, is where Love and Thunder finds its stride.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Thor: Love and Thunder brings the relationship of Thor and Jane Foster back into central focus, as Thor confronts his fears and the love that got away. It is a joy to watch Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth's characters get back together under Taika Waititi's direction. The main plot involving Gorr is a bit too flippant. Too much time is spent on elaborate plot devices and sequel-baiting than Gorr's mission of malice against deities and omnipotent beings. However, when the narrative focuses on Thor and Jane's relationship and Jane taking on her own mantle as the Mighty Thor, that is when Love and Thunder is at its most enjoyable.