Thor: Love and Thunder review – Lesser Ragnarok

After Taika Waititi actually made people care about MCU Thor in Ragnarok in 2017, the world was interested to see if he could make lightning strike twice with Love and Thunder now in 2022.

To spoil the end of our own review, Waititi has managed to pull it off again but either by the law of diminishing returns, poorer execution or the disjointed parts of this project, things just didn’t come together as well this time around.

But let’s reverse back to the premise of the movie. After taking off with the Guardians of the Galaxy at the conclusion of Avengers: Endgame (2019), Thor has been on sundry space Viking adventures until outside forces bring him back into the fray and back to Earth.

Those forces are Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Gorr (Christian Bale). Foster now wields the once-destroyed Mjölnir and holds the title of “Mighty Thor” as a new hero, and newcomer Gorr has acquired a powerful weapon called the Necrosword which he is using to kill Gods across the universe, something that’s obviously worrying to the two Thors.

Also returning, as revealed in the trailers, are Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Korg (Waititi), two fan favourites from Ragnarok.

As interesting as this premise is, it’s the start of Love and Thunder’s problems. Like Ragnarok, the plot here pulls from several seminal comic arcs that are, on their own, long and complex tails. Trying to force them into a single movie that’s around two hours in length was always going to be a challenge and it’s a real kneecapper here.

The plot and pacing of this movie are absolutely bonkers. Its events could take place over a few days, or weeks, or even months. This weird elastic, fictional time is jarring and, while the movie isn’t difficult to keep track of story-wise, it’s all jumbled and messy.

The writing is equally disconnected which combines with a another big problem: the dissonance in the tone of the movie.

As you may imagine from an antagonist called “Gorr the God Butcher”, armed with a weapon made to kill Gods, the stakes should be high and things should be rather grim.

This contrasts with the light, fun nature of OG Thor and company and the humorous writing we got to know in Ragnarok.

There’s another elements of the story and its writing we can’t reveal that is also rather dour and this too feels rather out of place and poorly handled.

The cast, overall, did a good job with the writing that is hit and miss like most comedy. The two Thors in Chris Hemsworth and Portman are the standouts and seem to be having a grand old time with the script.

Hemsworth’s fun-loving take on the character has been honed after all these years of playing the character and Portman is similarly putting in a good performance.

The same, unfortunately, can’t be said for Bale which is a real shock given that he’s arguably the biggest acting talent in the cast.

The entire mystique of the Gorr character and his crusade to kill all gods just comes across as your too serious uncle who majored in drama in university and now puts way too much effort into making spooky characters for Halloween.

The rest of the cast is just fine with no real standouts except for Russell Crowe as Zeus, who we also see in the trailers. His spin of the character is funny (which we can’t reveal) though we can see how some moviegoers will find his act grating.

Visuals and audio are, again, a mixed bag. Overall Marvel CGI has been seemingly shocking of late with both movies and TV shows delivering unconvincing effects that are expected from productions with a fraction of the money that Disney has.

Love and Thunder is also guilty of this. We’re not sure what is happening at Disney or Marvel Studios that is making these effects so bad. A particular offender is a very long scene involving children that are all CGI and end up looking like animated dolls à la Chucky and just as terrifying to look at.

But this is balanced out by some great uses of effects such as a fight scene in a realm devoid of colour.

Many will likely love the music that relies heavily on rock from the 80s but, while all these tracks are solid on their own, they seem utterly mismatched to what we’re actually seeing on screen.

It seems that the song choices were simply made because they’re familiar and beloved and not because they suit the movie.

It’s rather funny because we’ve seen this idea used to much better effect in other MCU movies, like the aforementioned Guardians of the Galaxy. The music in that movie was central to the character of Peter Quil as the last connection he has to Earth and his dead mother. Quil was an alien character to the space setting and his music was a pillar of his character as a human lost in the universe.

One of the central themes of Love and Thunder is being lost and not being sure of who you are or what your true place is. While some may say it’s amazing meta commentary that the movie itself is equally lost and unsure of itself, we say it’s more likely subpar filmmaking.

After having sat on this movie for a few hours we’ve come to the conclusion that, what Love and Thunder wanted to be is an 80s morning cartoon with a hammy villain, period-appropriate music and a life lesson at the end of it… but one of those special multi-partner cartoons where the status quo is changed and there’s some serious stakes involved.

This would certainly explain much of the problems including Bale’s ridiculous villain, but this isn’t an 80s morning cartoon, it’s a huge blockbuster movie where those elements don’t work as well as they should.

All of these disparate pieces could have come together to make something great, but they were fumbled and we have another passable Marvel movie for the pile. Hey, it’s still better than the original Thor movie and The Dark World, so it has that going for it.


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