Review | Thor: Love and Thunder | 2022
|(L-R): Natalie Portman as Mighty Thor and Chris Hemsworth as Thor in Marvel Studios' THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER. Photo by Jasin Boland. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.|
It's a curious phenomenon with the Marvel movies - the more things change the more things stay the same. Much has been made about the MCU's penchant for bringing in critically acclaimed filmmakers to bolster their credentials, only to neuter the final product to make sure it fits with their house style and overarching storyline.
It doesn't help matters that even Waititi himself feels somewhat bored by the material. Even more bizarre is that despite being the shortest MCU film in recent memory in seems rushed, as if they're trying to cram more story in here than the film can handle. The story picks up with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) where we left him at the end of Avengers: Endgame - running around the galaxy with the Guardians of the Galaxy and getting into a whole host of intergalactic adventures. But soon Thor gets restless and returns to New Asgard on Earth, which is being targeted by Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), a former follower of a god who turned out to no be the benevolent deity his followers thought, and swore to annihilate all gods.
Upon his return to earth, however, he discovers that his former girlfriend, Jane (Natalie Portman), has inherited the mantle of Thor and now wields his beloved hammer. So they must team up in order to defeat Gorr while working out their own differences along the way. It's a classic romantic comedy setup, but Waititi latches on to about three jokes and repeats them ad nauseam throughout the course of the film to the point that they quickly wear out their welcome. While I tend to prefer the MCU films that don't seem like just another setup for the next film, Love and Thunder doesn't really seem to know what it is or what it wants to be, coasting on its wacky sense of humor but neither delivering a satisfying self-contained narrative or a puzzle piece that really fits into Marvel's current overarching narrative.
|Christian Bale as Gorr in Marvel Studios' THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved|
On the other hand, Bale's Gorr is probably one of the strongest villains the MCU has given us to date. Bale is a terrifying presence and Waititi handles him well, giving him a sympathetic motivation that act's as the film's emotional core. The problem is it's actually more interesting than Jane's storyline, and Portman is often stuck wandering around trying to come up with a catchphrase while wearing a poorly rendered CGI helmet. Russell Crowe's Zeus is also a hoot, serving much the same purpose as Jeff Goldblum in Ragnarok. But these highlights can't cover up a weak script and a general sense of lethargy that plagues much of the film.
There's no real wonder or sense of surprise here (despite the usual admonishments from Marvel not to reveal too much about the plot). There are a lot of flashy effects and big moments, but ultimately it just feels like another cog in the machine, lacking the directorial flourishes that saved Multiverse of Madness or the sense of humanity that lifted up Eternals. We are left with simply another Marvel movie, with all that has come to represent - all empty calories with no real meat on its bones.