PG Score: 7/10
Thor: Love and Thunder was released in theaters on 7/8/22
Coming off the roaring success of Ragnarok, Co-Writer/Director Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Jojo Rabbit) is back at the helm for more Thor. He goes all in on humor, hammers home some hard-hitting action, and introduces a deeper level of romance to the MCU. While Love and Thunder does not rumble as loud as its predecessor, it still provides ample reason to visit the theater.
The latest entry in Marvel’s Phase 4 finds Thor (Chris Hemsworth) squaring off against one of his deadliest enemies yet. The son of Odin recruits Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), and Korg (Waititi) to help vanquish Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who vows to eradicate all gods.
Comedic Pros and Cons
As with all the electric filmmaker’s previous work, comedy is the primary focus. The fourth Thor installment packs an outrageous number of gags into the two-hour runtime. Hemsworth has mastered the protagonist’s portrayal by this point, so he is now adding layers to the character as he broadens his range. Love and Thunder offers plenty of laughs, but they occasionally come at a cost. The grave stakes do not always feel legitimate because of the shamelessly silly tone. There are several unnecessarily awkward scenes thanks to the insertion of ill-advised jokes instead of a more serious approach. Given that Gorr is such a sinister adversary, the constant levity is out of place at times.
The action sequences are equal parts colorful and satisfying. Vivid cinematography accompanies the intricate choreography during large-scale encounters and more condensed conflicts. Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir, demonstrates devastating new powers and the results make for supreme spectacles. The God of Thunder once again puts the intimidating axe known as Stormbreaker to good use as he carves through Gorr’s macabre minions. Legendary weapons would be nothing without those that wield them, and the heroes do not disappoint. Each character is granted their moment to shine in combat both literally and figuratively (the various sets of armor tend to glisten), and their unique fighting styles blend beautifully on the big screen.
In many superhero movies, matters of the heart are addressed in a one-size-fits-all approach. The trite treatment of countless love interests feels like a box to be checked, rather than a moving component tailored to each project. Thor: Love and Thunder bucks that trend. As the title suggests, romance is a recurring theme and the driving force behind the action. It often appears in subtle ways and registers as a genuine love story during those moments. However, there are other times when the romantic elements fall under a cheesy spell and seem contrived. Fortunately, the film contains more of the former than the latter.
Chris Hemsworth showcases his most nuanced version of Thor yet. In addition to expanding his ability to amuse, the Spiderhead actor displays flickers of profound dramatic depth. Christian Bale’s Gorr is an intriguing villain who suffers from a rushed backstory and a lack of screen time. Despite being underutilized, the Oscar winner still manages to deliver a menacing, multifaceted performance. On top of his writing and directing duties, Waititi hits the trifecta as he reprises his role as Korg, Thor’s trusty teammate and deadpan humor extraordinaire. Natalie Portman returns as Jane Foster and brings gravitas to a character who is committed to forging a new path. She is out of tune during a few of the comedic bits though. Tessa Thompson suits up as Valkyrie and shines as the battle-hardened warrior. She engages in frequent banter with Thor and reels off her one-liners with flawless delivery.
A Thunderous Romp
Taika Waititi is among the funniest contributors in Hollywood, and his trademark comedic excellence is evident throughout the entirety of Thor: Love and Thunder. While the emphasis on comedy sometimes verges on detrimental, the lighter tone is a nice palate cleanser after the dark Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The zany mash-up may not be one of Marvel’s strongest cinematic outings, but it is certainly a fun ride.
PG Score: 7/10