A Laugh Riot Takes the Franchise in a New Direction
Thor: Love and Thunder returns the Norse god to his bulging biceps in a hilarious sequel that borders on slapstick. Director/co-writer Taika Waititi continues to put his stamp on the Marvel Cinematic Universe with another deliciously offbeat take on superhero adventures. Christian Bale and Natalie Portman bring slivers of dramatic heft in a Guns N’ Roses fueled narrative with consequential developments. Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) quest to find his true purpose veers into unexpected philosophical territory. The film questions the fundamental tenets of faith and religion. Not all of it works, but I chuckled consistently through a breezy runtime.
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Korg (Waititi), the rock-like Kronan and Thor’s dry wit bestie, narrates what happened to the God of Thunder after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Thor gets his mojo back while working out and going on missions with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Thor’s overbearing presence proves to be a blessing and curse during battles. The powerful warrior pummels enemies but causes more chaos in the aftermath. Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) assuages his Guardians shipmates as they become annoyed by Thor’s antics. Let’s just say that Nebula (Karen Gillan) is not a fan.
An aggrieved survivor of a barren wasteland acquires a deadly weapon. Gorr (Christian Bale) uses the Necrosword to kill deities. The God Butcher needs a specific Asgardian artifact to complete his master plan. His terrifying threat to New Asgard forces Thor back to Earth. Thor is stunned when Jane Foster (Portman) joins the fight wielding Mjolnir. The legendary hammer, shattered to pieces by Hela in Thor: Ragnarok, reformed to give Jane the powers of Thor. Mjolnir keeps her cancer at bay. Thor’s true love hides her illness as they team up with Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg, and a pair of screaming goats to stop Gorr.
Fueled by Spiritual Crisis
Waititi slickly inserts heavy themes to the gags barrage. Gorr’s prayers for salvation were not answered. His desperate cries for help were mocked by the gods. They basked in adoration while his family suffered. Gorr transforms into a militant atheist as belief turned to visceral hatred. Conversely, Jane Foster, a scientist dedicated to reason, finds a mystical reprieve from her diagnosis. Mjolnir staves off the cancer at a price. Both characters have a spiritual crisis that dictates their destiny. The religious arcs are thoughtful and serve as the film’s backbone.
The humor doesn’t hit every target. Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Zeus falls flat. The orgy-loving King of the Olympians has a shoddy Greek accent and persona that misfires. He sounds like a huckster shilling gyros and baklava from a food cart. Hemsworth, as jacked as we’ve ever seen him, vacillates between goofy and serious. Thor has suffered monumental tragedy in the franchise. His casual arrogance gets deflated as he comes to terms with Jane’s condition. These scenes are poignant but lack gravitas when the joke spigot never stops flowing.
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Look and Sound in Thor: Love and Thunder
Thor: Love and Thunder has an eighties inspired look and sound. The hard rocking Guns N’ Roses soundtrack is accompanied by colorful cinematography. The notable exception takes place in Gorr’s black and white shadow realm. The CGI action blurs together in big set pieces. The direct fighting with Gorr thankfully has a stronger bite. Christian Bale is quite good in a layered performance. Audiences will empathize with his bitter outlook and need for vengeance.
Thor: Love and Thunder brings major changes to the character. I was pleasantly surprised by the ending. Waititi puts Thor on a different track with interesting possibilities. Some fans might not like the new direction, but they’ll definitely be laughing. Stick around during the credits.
Thor: Love and Thunder is a production of Marvel Studios. It will be released theatrically on July 8th from Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.