“Thor: Love and Thunder” is more of a victory lap for everything that director Taika Waititi accomplished with his previous Marvel film, “Ragnarok,” which was frequently hilarious, rousing, and plainly rejuvenating. While it has too many similar touches and gags, this fun sequel stands on its own as a force for good with enough visual ambition and emotion behind and in front of the camera to stand on its own.On a journey of healing, we meet our space viking hero and thunderous Norse god Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in this awe-inspiring family adventure. Thor has gone from “daddy bod” to “god bod” (as noted by Waititi’s voiceover recap, given by his still-charming rock-bodied softy character Korg), and Thor: Ragnarok saw the destruction of Asgard and its people settling into a seaside town called New Asgard. Their leader, the dynamic King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), has aided them in adjusting to life on Earth, which includes becoming a tourist attraction. But it’s all for naught, because the end comes in quick succession – and without even the Guardians of the Galaxy to assist. Thor spends a good amount of time dealing with various problems on Earth before returning to Asgard, where he meets up with his father (Colm Feore) again after several years and has an emotional reunion. In a brief appearance, he gets back into shape for world-saving duties, and in a Guns N’ Roses-accompanied moment at the start, he unleashes stylized high-flying slaughter like many scenes in “Thor: Ragnarok,” wielding his axe Stormbreaker. He has no one to share the victory with him though, and for all of Thor’s hundreds of years on this world, he has resigned.
Thor’s current love interest, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), is introduced once again. Thor’s prior human lover from the previous films, as well as his more serious days, reappears during this section. She has become the Mighty Thor, with helmet and cape, but with a cost. Every time she uses the power, it depletes her natural human capabilities, which is all the more tragic given that we learn she has Stage Four cancer. “Thor: Love and Thunder” reintroduces Jane into the movie while also providing further insight into her connection with Thor. Portman’s portrayal of both her human and superhero selves demonstrates why it’s wonderful to have Jane back.
This time around, it’s Gorr the God Butcher, a tortured character filled with rage who provides the darkness to the film’s tremendous light moments. Gorr is transformed into a non-believer when his daughter dies, and he is chosen by a sword called the Necrosword. To kill all gods, starting with the one who ignored his cries for help, Gorr creates an army of shapeshifting black monsters. With his smoky baritone, Christian Bale is compelling in the part, alternating between loud and soft voices and enjoying the chance to display his sharp teeth. It’s the closest we’ll get to seeing Christian Bale play Pennywise the Clown, with a pinch of Voldemort, but it’s tethered to his usual humility. Even though “Thor: Love and Thunder” undersells his god butchering in favor of a more sentimental message, and to put him next to frightened kids, he’s amusing to watch.
“Thor: Love and Thunder,” which was written and directed by Taika Waititi and Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, doesn’t reach its full potential. When Gorr the God Butcher attacks New Asgard at night in a frantic impromptu fight sequence that has Waititi’s usually stable vision for Thor action losing control, part of its messiness starts to show. In the dark, the purportedly frightening scene unfolds, with shadow monsters battling the Asgardians and taking their children. The sequence is so disconnected that a visual joke involving a collapsing burning structure in the background, set to when Thor meets-cute again with Jane as a hammer-wielding, ass-kicking, Mighty Thor—just doesn’t click.
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Jane, Thor, King Valkyrie, and Korg travel to the god of lightning Zeus and the other gods who lounge about in a golden forum and talk about the next orgy, unconcerned with what Gorr is planning. With a grab-bag of odd creatures similar to those seen in “Star Wars,” it resembles a golden and white version of the Galactic Senate : The New York set piece is one of the more stunning scenes in the film, if not the most spectacular. It’s a Korg relative, after all. It’s also one of the film’s most eye-catching moments. However, it’s also an instance when future “Thor” tales take precedence over this one (including a shrugging cameo seen in the post-credits), as well as a passage among many where Tessa Thompson’s character of King Valkyrie, though essential with the goings-on of New Asgard, has strangely been pushed to the side despite her established importance and swagger in “Thor: Ragnarok.”
This movie flirts with that line, but it doesn’t really go there. “Thor: Love and Thunder” plays the hits, the same way that there are a million Guns N’ Roses references and needle drops in this film simply because you’re supposed to head-bang each time. It’s a film that, despite some excellent comedic moments and decent action sequences, has almost nothing to say about its hero. It doesn’t tell us much about Thor or his people, limiting the emotional connection we have with them; it doesn’t even seem interested in exploring their culture. The movie’s attempt at social humor—ending on an ill-advised tangent about what happens when you hire your pals for a bobsledding team—underscores this lack of insight into its protagonist.
Lacking the overall freshness that characterized the preceding film, “Thor: Love and Thunder” is improved by its more dramatic sequences, which are like little films about how love comes with the burden of suffering. Gorr is introduced in a tense bubble gum segment from Ingmar Bergman, who cradles his dead kid and abandons his god before murdering him. Later on, Waititi delivers us the Jane and Thor relationship—its intimacy and eventually its solitude—as if it were a spin-off of his own unique quirky indie “Eagle vs. Shark.” It’s lighthearted at times, but it’s also quite honest, especially when the two of them try to figure out whether love is salvageable in this rapidly evaporating timeline. Even if everything is later treated in too quaint or overly eager crowd-pleasing fashion to hit as hard as they’re clearly intended to, these emotional episodes reveal the real passions behind “Thor: Love and Thunder,” even if everything is later dealt with in a far more conventional way.
The most important take-away from “Thor: Love and Thunder,” beside how Waititi really need to get that “Star Wars” trilogy he’s been hinting at, is his audacious use of color both visually and thematically. It’s not just the bright colors, which include soldiers for Zeus who vomit golden blood, or a spectacular black-and-white fight sequence on a tiny color-draining planet that makes excellent use of selected flashes of blue light. Waititi tugs the audience’s heartstrings with his assured voice, which holds that a film can mix god-slaying and kid-friendly crowd-pleasers with a gloppy message about love. This sequel isn’t without its concerns, but Waititi continues to demonstrate how unusual blockbusters may still be if their storytellers keep embracing some of their most weighty and amusing concepts.
Writers:Taika Waititi(story by)Jennifer Kaytin RobinsonStan Lee(based on the Marvel comics by)
Stars:Chris HemsworthNatalie PortmanChristian Bale