Directed by: Taika Waititi
Premise: Following the events of Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Endgame, the children of Asgard are abducted by Gor (Christian Bale) who intends to kill all god-like beings. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) reteams with ex-girlfriend Jane (Natalie Portman) to rescue the children.
What Works: Thor: Love and Thunder returns Jane Foster to the Thor series. The two of them met in the original film but Thor and Jane haven’t been seen together since 2013’s The Dark World. Actors Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman have a likable romantic chemistry and they easily resume their relationship. The new film opens with Thor looking for a purpose. He’s surrendered his leadership of Asgard and his travels with the Guardians of the Galaxy have come to an end. Thor’s reunion with Jane gives Love and Thunder some personal stakes and exposes its superheroes to human vulnerabilities which makes the characters accessible and the movie engaging. The villain of Love and Thunder is Gor, a man who lost his child and his taking his grief out on the god-like creatures of the universe. Gor, played by Christian Bale, is one of the best villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He’s a tragic figure. Gor’s anger is justified but his grief has made him malevolent and Bale’s performance is frightening. Like Thor: Ragnarok, the new Thor film was directed by Taika Waititi, a filmmaker with a distinct visual style and a singular sense of humor. Love and Thunder occasionally turns Waititi’s style up to eleven. Viewers who get Waititi’s humor will enjoy the film quite a bit but those who don’t will probably find Love and Thunder obnoxious.
What Doesn’t: The quality of the special effects is all over the place. Some parts of this movie look great, especially a black and white sequence in which the heroes first confront Gor, but Love and Thunder consistently features junky visuals that look like digital effects from the early 2000s. This is especially true of the digitally assisted costumes (the Thor masks look like they are hovering in the frame) and some dialogue scenes in which actors were obviously composited into the conversation in post-production. The story suffers from a glut of characters that the filmmakers don’t know what to do with. The crux of the story is Thor’s relationship with Jane and they go on an adventure with Korg and Valkyrie (Taika Waititi and Tessa Thompson). Unlike Thor: Ragnarok, which gave the supporting cast their own character arcs, Love and Thunder relegates Korg and Valkyrie to the sidelines. They help in battle scenes but these characters don’t serve any purpose in the story. They could be eliminated from the story without changing the outcome.
Bottom Line: Like its predecessor, Thor: Love and Thunder is among the funniest and most visually interesting entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film is also strained by excess and occasionally slapdash in execution.
Episode: #910 (July 17, 2022)