Thor Love and Thunder

Thor: Love and Thunder Review – God, It’s Goofy

Taika Waititi’s second foray into the Marvel Cinematic Universe gamely attempts to re-create the magic of his first–but where Ragnarok soared, Thor: Love and Thunder falters. This latest chapter of the MCU, although sufficiently entertaining, lacks the spontaneity and charm that made its predecessor such a breath of fresh air.

The story picks up not long after we last saw Asgard’s mightiest superhero (Chris Hemsworth). He now spends his days journeying through space alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy, righting wrongs and putting down the big baddies of the universe. Most days, he’s more focused on finding true inner peace than any kind of galactic power balance, but that all comes to a screeching halt when Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale) sets out to exterminate all the gods in the universe. Thor’s meditative journey takes a backseat as he gathers a small but mighty army–King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Taika Waititi), and his ex-turned-Mighty-Thor Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman)–to defeat this latest threat to his world. The quartet, with a little cosmic assistance from Thor’s trusted weapons Mjolnir and Stormbreaker, then set out to uncover Gorr’s plan and stop him before it’s too late.


“Let me tell you the story of the Space Viking”

Plot-wise, Love and Thunder is solid Marvel material. You’ve got an interesting and layered villain, courtesy of an excellent Christian Bale who, despite resembling Voldemort on a very bad day, gives the role his all. Gorr’s vengeance is born of terrible pain and trauma and it’s hard not to feel some empathy for a being who turned to destruction only because he had nothing left to lose. Then we have a hero in need of motivation, an ex in need of meaning, and soldiers in need of a battle. Put them all together and it’s a good recipe for adventure, a love story, and the occasional quippy one-liner. 

But Waititi squanders the stronger points of the film for the sake of repeated silliness and indulgent quirk. That worked wonders in Ragnarok–a film whose humour felt like a natural and much-needed shift for Marvel. But here it feels forced instead of natural, taking from the moment when it should be adding to it. The most glaring casualty of this is Thor himself. Love and Thunder makes the god the butt of almost every joke and amps up his goofiness to an extreme degree–and the less said about the lingering fat jokes at the start of the film, the better. It’s asking a lot for audiences to become emotionally invested in a story or a character (and their relationships) when the film itself struggles to take them all seriously. 


That’s not to say that all the humour fails to land. There are two particularly silly recurring jokes–one involving goats and the other involving a jealous Stormbreaker–that have no business working, but do every single time.


Rainbow Connections

That Marvel casts talented thesps who can handily play all colours of the emotional rainbow from slapstick to seriousness helps the film stay buoyant even at its weakest points. Portman in particular finally gets to shine as Foster, both in her scientific guise and as Mighty Thor. Where previous the Thor films have done her a great disservice, largely using her for exposition and faux-science jargon, Love and Thunder gives her a chance to both have some fun and play some of the film’s heaviest moments. Hemsworth continues to nail all sides of the god at the centre of it all, and Thompson and Waititi kill it once again as Valkyrie and Korg, respectively. And though he gets only the briefest of mentions, here’s hoping we will see more of Korg’s new life partner, Dwayne.

The Guardians gang appear mercifully briefly at the start of the film and then are sent off on their own galactic adventures. ‘Mercifully’ only because the characters are given so little to do that we wonder at them being included at all. Then there’s Russell Crowe, who shows up halfway through as Zeus, the biggest god of them all. We don’t know exactly what direction Crowe was given for his larger-than-life character (or his accent), but it’s clear he’s one-hundred-percent committed and was having a ball every second he was on set. It’s wild and must be seen to be believed and yet, somehow, it seems to work better than many other of the film’s more out-there ideas. The film’s other cameos are less successful and feel slightly played out but you can’t help giving them an “A” for effort.

Love and Thunder manages to find its happy place in its third act, delivering audiences a rousing, worthy final battle, a fitting but emotionally-charged end for some characters, and a beginning for a few new and potentially significant others. The final scenes really allows the film to show its emotional underbelly and its all the better for it. 



Happily Ever After

Where Waititi also excels in Love and Thunder is with its visuals. Whether in the streets of New Asgard, in the golden celestial realm of Omnipotence City, or in the sombre, colourless frames of Eternity, the film is a feast for the eyes. The shadowy fight sequences don’t disappoint either–with the film’s final battle bringing to mind the rousing series climax of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And though the music cues at the beginning of the film try too hard to replicate the success of the Guardians tracks and even Ragnarok’s use of Zeppelin, come the finale, the Guns ‘N’ Roses tunes are totally on point.

This latest chapter of the MCU found itself up against some hefty expectations, thanks to the incredible success of its predecessor, and it would’ve taken something truly incredible to meet each and every one of them. Love and Thunder is not that film. But what it manages is a solidly entertaining and fun, if too goofy, Marvel adventure that won’t count among the studios best but is still satisfying enough for cinematic summer escapism.

Thor: Love and Thunder is in theatres now.