THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Christian Bale, Tessa Thompson, Natalie Portman, Taika Waititi, and Russell Crowe
Director: Taika Waititi
Unlike other MCU entries, my anticipation for Love and Thunder was low. That’s less a commentary on the character than it is the heavy dose of MCU fatigue stemming from the sheer volume of content and muddled franchise direction. The movie itself is fine. It has some good moments, but it’s not as funny as Ragnarok. In fact, as much as this film is being labeled a comedy, its best moments come when the story is at its most serious, thanks in large part to an enigmatic Christian Bale. It’s certainly not a bad film, but like much of Phase Four, it’s a little disappointing.
While it lacks the grandeur and cohesiveness of Ragnarok, Love and Thunder is another hilarious MCU entry that should become a rewatch staple. Some important plot points get glossed over a little too hastily, which creates a slight air of triviality (think Ant-Man and the Wasp), but the jokes are so rapid fire that you hardly notice in the moment. I suppose it does create some tonal mismatches, but ultimately, I’m just being nitpicky. With the excellent additions of Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, lots of Guns N’ Roses, and two screaming goats, Love and Thunder belongs in the upper echelon of solo MCU adventures.
Unlike Ragnarok, which uses a captivating story and engaging characters to create hilarious moments, Love and Thunder uses humor as a foundation to which the story is haphazardly attached. It makes the plot an afterthought, thereby creating my least favorite first-time MCU watch. Weirdly, the story’s bones feel like they could have worked as the MCU’s first rom-com; However, when 95% of the dialogue is, for me, forced jokes that don’t land, it’s hard to be endeared with any major plot point. As a result, by the time the better balanced final act came around, I was already too checked out to care.
I am utterly confused at the distaste so many have for Thor’s latest outing. It’s funny, sweet, and touching, all while sporting stunning visuals and a kick-ass soundtrack. Some jokes try too hard or go on for too long, but that wasn’t enough to take me out of this wondrous space epic. Christian Bale steals each scene as Gorr, but he wasn’t as present as I’d hoped. Still, Love and Thunder does a great job of exploring its characters, even if that means creating some plot-based issues. It’s great fun and even better on rewatch.
Love and Thunder is an entertaining popcorn flick that brings director Taika Waititi’s sense of humor back to the MCU. I enjoyed the film’s rom-com feel, which made me believe that love will always overcome revenge, and it’s so fast paced that it will keep you onboard through the entire runtime. However, it’s still a reduced version of Ragnarok. Overall, it’s a mediocre MCU film that further exemplifies the inconsistency and wobbliness of Phase 4. Still, if you're just looking for a fun superhero adventure, then you’ll enjoy the film as much as the cast and director seemed to have enjoyed themselves when making it.
Like Ragnarok before it, Love and Thunder is full of humor and heart. What it lacks is a compelling story and a proper sense of pacing. Christian Bale is excellent as Gorr the God Butcher (and his makeup design is great), but he doesn’t actually get to do a whole lot when he’s on screen. Add to that the reintroduction of Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and some half-baked Guardians of the Galaxy material, and the film doesn’t seem to have an identity to cling to. It’s fun when it wants to be, but it lacks the emotional depth of director Taika Waititi’s usual output.