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Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) – Review

July 5, 2022

Quick Thoughts – Grade – C+ – There’s a lot to like in Thor: Love & Thunder, but the constant riffing and jokes destroy the momentum and create a disjointed and flat experience. 

Taika Waititi placed himself in a tough situation when he decided to come back to direct another Thor movie. In 2017, Thor: Ragnarok felt like a breath of fresh air that allowed Chris Hemsworth to finally have some fun (He’s a friend from work!) and introduced audiences to Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, and Waititi’s Korg (Both are favorites of mine). What made Ragnarok work so well is that it was able to infuse comedy into the Thor universe while still telling a relatively tight narrative about family and accepting one’s fate. The film went on to collect a 93% Tomatometer score, 7.9 IMDB User score, and it grossed $854 million worldwide. In other words, Thor: Ragnarok was a bonafide blockbuster that proved that Waitit was ready for the big leagues. It was neat seeing that the guy who directed Eagle vs. Shark, Boy, What We Do in the Shadows and The Hunt for the Wilderpeople, could step up and make a funky big budget blockbuster. Several years later, Waitti is now an Oscar-winning (2020 – Best Adapted Screenplay win for Jojo Rabbit) A-lister who also has produced excellent TV shows like What We Do in the Shadows, Reservation Dogs, Wellington Paranormal and Our Flag Means Death

Waititi’s tough situation is that anything he makes now will have insane amounts of expectations, and with Thor: Love & Thunder, he has to deliver another excellent Marvel film that has to somehow live up to the expectations that Thor: Ragnarok created. In the end, Thor: Love & Thunder is fun, but it lacks momentum and cohesion because the constant riffing grinds everything to a halt. Also, Christian Bale’s Gorr The God Butcher character looks great, and has a compelling backstory, but he’s largely ignored as the movie progresses and the majority of his abilities revolve around him sending shadow monsters into battle while he hangs out and waits for them to accomplish their mission. The narrative becomes a little overwhelmed as well as the movie focuses on Thor, Valkyrie, Korg, two screaming goats, and The Mighty Thor (Natalie Portman – getting much needed retribution as being wasted in Thor: The Dark World) attempting to stop Gorr before he’s able to locate *spoiler* so he can finish off all the gods. It sounds simple enough, but throw in Gorr’s backstory, training montages, fun cameos, the Guardians of the Galaxy, space battles, health scares, shadow planets, god planets, tourist destinations, hospitals, dry planets, child abduction, relationship montages, and final battles and you have a lot going on. What’s nice about Thor: Ragnarok is that it tells a simple narrative about Thor returning to Asgard so he can battle his sister Hela (Cate Blanchett – so good). It’s simple, easy to follow, and not overloaded with momentum killing gags. 

As always, reviewing MCU movies is tough because there are so many spoilers and twists that are best left unspoiled. I’d love to write more about Natalie Portman’s return, but a lot of her storyline was a surprise to me and I don’t want to wreck anything for you. It is nice seeing her back in the MCU after Thor: The Dark World left her pining for Thor and being a plot Macguffin. This time around Portman gets to wreck villains and have fun alongside Hemsworth, Thompson, Waititi, Bale and Russell Crowe (with a unique accent). Also, since the MCU is now dealing with gods and space travel, the CGI-heavy finales are becoming predictable (Truth be told I have no idea how to fix this because their formula works and CGI is necessary) as wildly powerful people battle other powerful people in fancy locations that need to be out of the public’s eye to avoid spoiler-tastic photos. Waititi and co-writer Jennifer Kaytin Robinson include a fun finale surprise, but the ending still doesn’t hold much weight because you know that good will prevail (and a famous rock song will be played). All in all, Thor: Love & Thunder is a good time, but it has zero momentum because of the constant riffing and gags that pump the narrative breaks. For instance, when Thor goes off on a quest he flies through the roof of a building and Valkyrie says “He’s paying for that.” Sure, it’s a funny bit, but it’s not necessary and does nothing for the narrative. Now, imagine dozens of these cheeky moments that will probably make you laugh, but will also slow down the narrative. Somewhere along the way the narrative took a backseat and Thor: Love & Thunder became more about having a good time and that’s why I gave it a C. It’s fun, but it comes nowhere near movies like Iron Man, Black Panther, and Thor: Ragnarok. I did love the Event Horizon and Interstellar references, which open up a fun can of cameo worms. Also, I’m pretty sure Chris Hemsworth used this movie to audition for a Big Trouble in Little China remake. 

Since it’s an MCU film with a gigantic budget, the production is top notch and special props should go to costume designer Mayes C. Rubeo (Apocalypto, Jojo Rabbit, World War Z) and production designer Nigel Phelps (World War Z, The Island), who do some excellent work as there are some interesting design choices and I really like the updated costumes for Valkyrie, Korg and The Mighty Thor.

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