Friday, July 22, 2022

Green Phoenix - Thor: Love and Thunder Review

Thor Love and Thunder poster.jpeg

It's time once again to return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It seems like it was only a few weeks ago that I was taking a look at Marvel's action pseudo-horror action film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, to only moderately good reviews. Truthfully, I've been struggling with Marvel properties as of late as I desperately wish to see the direction that the universe wants to take as we enter what is now I think the sixth film in Phase Four and I still don't have a clue how everything connects beyond minor narrative references and overall theming (just as a point of comparison, Phase One was composed of six films in its entirety).

And now with all that baggage, I have to take a look at the next entry in the Thor franchise, which has been rather hit or miss in the past. Under the direction of Taika Waititi, who did a phenomenal job at re-contextualizing Thor for Thor: Ragnarok, I decided that I needed to see Thor: Love and Thunder, and I couldn't see it alone.

With TrotCon having occurred last weekend as I write this article, I went with my girlfriend and a company of close friends were at the convention with me. Their perspective gave me plenty to think about and its left me with a clearer idea of what I think about this fourth entry in the Thor franchise.

Is it a game-changer like Thor:Ragnarok that will completely re-imagine the series going forward. Or is it a average treader of similar grounds?

  • Directed by Taika Waititi
  • Produced by Marvel Studios
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • Runtime: Minutes


Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Thor Odinson, the Asgardian God of Thunder, is struggling to figure out his place in a post-Thanos world. Having joined the Guardians of the Galaxy and begun a quest of self-discovery, Thor is drawn back into the fold when New Asgard is attacked by a mysterious new enemy known as Gorr the God-Butcher. Armed with a dangerous weapon known as the Necrosword, capable of killing a god permanently, Gorr has made it his personal mission to wipe out all gods' in the universe and kidnaps the children of New Asgard in hopes of drawing Thor into his schemes.
Desperate to save the children, Thor teams up with Valkyrie, the Queen of New Asgard, and Jane Foster, Thor's ex-girlfriend who has claimed the shattered pieces of Mjolnir in a gamble to halt her terminal cancer and become the Mighty Thor, the three heroes will have to travel to the very center of the universe in an effort to save not only the children of Asgard, but all god's in the universe.



Thank goodness! Thor: Love and Thunder is a fun, funny, and well made superhero film that seems very much in the vein of Thor: Ragnarok while managing to stay its own story and not become bogged down in constant references to other or upcoming projects (beyond Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 3). That is not to say that it is without flaws or issues, but none were so terrible that it distracted me from my overall enjoyment.
As is to be expected from a Taika Waititi film, Thor: Love and Thunder has a visual and auditory aesthetic that I just absolutely adore. The film is bright and colorful, popping off the screen like something out of a comic book; though I would actually have to say that everything in the Shadow Realm is my favorite part from a purely visual standpoint. It felt like watching something out of Sin City and it really helped to build exactly the kind of pathos that Gorr the God Butcher needed to be effective.

This alongside a killer soundtrack, filled with all kinds of 80s classics that just make me so happy to hear, makes Thor: Love and Thunderan absolute blast even if the rest of the film were complete dogshit. Which thankfully, it isn't due in no small part to a wonderful cast that just seems to love what they are doing.
It seems like Chris Hemsworth has just decided to fully manifest himbo energy in his portrayal of Thor because holy shit! How did any of us ever take this character seriously, because Hemsworth is just made for comedy. Damn near every scene he is in is just rib-crackingly hilarious, as Thor just hams his way through the universe while always still maintaining an attitude of an absolute badass. No matter how silly or stupid he acts, you still also buy that he genuinely cares and is serious when the going gets tough, especially when it comes to helping out the kidnapped children.
Returning to the cast, we also have Natalie Portman as Thor's ex-girlfriend and love interest Dr. Jane Foster. She left following the disaster that was Thor: The Dark World so seeing Portman enter into the new Thor paradigm was always going to be something of a hit or miss proposition. Could someone largely known for dramatic roles, even within the MCU, be able to stand alongside the comedic chops of Hemsworth? The answer...sort of.
Don't get me wrong. When it comes to the dramatic or romantic moments, Portman is fantastic and really in her element. But they really try to give her funny moments or playful banter with the other cast members, and with the exception of a few moments with Valkyrie, it mostly feels really forced. Like uncomfortably so. It's really a shame but it just stands out when you then have Hemsworth and Waititi (as Korg) just completely killing it with the jokes. It's just a little awkward.
Thankfully the villain is quite good, at least where Marvel villains are concerned. Marvel has never really been known for its amazing villains, with most being middling or middle of the road; necessary for conflict but never ground-breaking. Gorr certainly isn't a Loki, Thanos, or Killmonger, but he isn't god-awful either. His motivation is incredibly sympathetic and the design is wonderful. I'm especially happy with the performance, as Christian Bale does a great job in making him tragic and terrifying. One of my friends that I watched the film with actually made a great point that I agree with.
Christian Bale did a better Joker impression than Jared Leto did. And its true, especially in the scene where Gorr terrifies the Asgardian children to make a point about gods and heroes. Its deeply unnerving and a poignant discussion to have, all while the Omnipotent City scene plays to almost backup Gorr's point. He doesn't have any funny moments, but that just makes his presence all the more weighted.
Which is a good thing because from a narrative perspective, Gorr isn't really that much of a presence except for a few very select scenes. The film is actually incredibly simple and I felt like it was really short when I first viewed it. Essentially the quest is to rescue the Asgardian children and Thor and his friends attempt to recruit more gods' to assist in stopping Gorr. When this fails they fight Gorr once, lose, and discover that the children were actually a trap to assist Gorr in getting to his true objective; killing all gods.
The film keeps to these two points pretty consistently, focusing a lot more of its time on the relationship between Jane and Thor. Which also seems to resolve rather quickly in time for the battle sequence, though I will award points for a film that has a couple that actually manages to talk out their issues rather than just angst and whinge over it for the whole film. The final twist of the film wasn't completely unexpected but it did seem rather refreshing, if slightly underserved. Gorr wins, but so does Thor. The film just kind of ends with one character dead (essentially to keep that actor from having to return in later installments and clean up the last vestiges of the old Thor movies) and Thor going off to have further vague adventures with no actual direction as to how this will reflect on the rest of the MCU.
Add in a mid-credit scene that essentially steals all the same story beats from the Guardians of the Galaxy 2 credit scene (which still hasn't resolved itself) and Thor: Love and Thunder ends up being a simple adventure comedy that ways far more on the comedy, almost to a detriment at some points. Thankfully a killer visual and auditory aesthetic paired with a cast that, with a few exceptions, is just killing it with their performance, leaves us with a enjoyable, if ultimately popcorn-flicky, experience.
  • 8/10
  • 9/10
  • 8/10
  • 7/10


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