After the brilliant Thor: Ragnarok (which received a 5-star rating from me!), the prospect of Taika Waititi returning to not only direct but also write Love and Thunder was certainly an exciting one. Sure enough, the trailer looked as though we were about to get another winner – great soundtrack, incredible visuals, and a good dose of silly humour. Not to mention more from the Guardians of the Galaxy, a creepy-looking Christian Bale as the main villain, and the return of Jane Foster, who is now wielding Mjolnir! Unfortunately though, while not a complete disappointment, Love and Thunder does fall way short of the high bar that was set by Ragnarok, struggling to balance comedy with drama and spreading itself far too thin.
It all starts out promisingly enough with an emotional introduction to Christian Bale, shortly before his transformation into Gorr the God Butcher. After losing his daughter to the harsh desert terrain, Gorr comes across a god who couldn’t really care less about him, his daughter or any other mere mortal. So, when Gorr acquires a powerful weapon known as the Necrosword, he decides to use it to slaughter every single god in the universe. It’s a nicely paced, atmospheric introduction to this important character and gives Christian Bale a real chance to shine. You can fully appreciate and feel the sadness followed by the rage that he experiences. Cue the Marvel Studios logo, and then a sharp shift in tone and pace.
A narration from Korg brings us up to speed on the life of Thor so far, a lot of which you’ll be familiar with from the trailer – his rise from a young boy to a powerful god, the loss of family members and loved ones (including multiple Loki deaths!), and then the hard work he’s put recently in order to get himself back into shape and fighting fit. He’s still tagging along with the Guardians of the Galaxy but feels unfulfilled, only of any real purpose when called in to help them out when the going gets tough, as demonstrated during a fierce gun battle that the Guardians are struggling to win. Thor swoops in and saves the day before deciding that it’s time to part ways with the Guardians and move on. It feels like the Guardians were there simply for the purposes of a throwaway joke and sadly they just end up looking a bit useless, quickly sidelined and removed so that we can crack on with the rest of the movie. They seem wasted, something which turns out to be a common theme for the rest of the movie.
Korg continues his narration as we follow the relationship between Thor and Jane, showing how it all ended and the poor health that Jane has since tried to find a cure for. So when Thor arrives back in New Asgard to fight alongside Valkyrie against an attack by Gorr and his shadow monsters, it’s a surprise to all when Jane appears, looking much, much healthier and making very good use of the newly re-formed Mjolnir. After squaring up against Thor, Jane and Valkyrie for a while, Gorr retreats but he’s taken all of the Asgardian children with him and the heroes realise they’re going to need extra help in tracking him down and preventing him from fulfilling his ultimate goal (maybe give the Guardians of the Galaxy another call?). In the meantime though, there’s a new running gag involving Stormbreaker being jealous of the return of Mjolnir in Thor’s life, and two large noisy goats to keep us entertained.
There’s a real lack of focus in Thor: Love and Thunder that never really resolves until the final act. It feels like it’s trying too hard to be funny and silly ALL the time and while there are certainly plenty of laughs to be had along the way, the script just isn’t strong enough to sustain them. The whole thing ends up as an awkwardly paced, badly edited at times, clash of tones – a parody of Thor almost, with too many gags that don’t always work. After his powerful and interesting introduction, Gorr never really feels like much of a major threat to the heroes, despite Christian Bale doing his absolute best. And Jane’s story never feels as though it’s given the emotional focus it’s needed. Again, all are overshadowed by the need for as many gags and as much silliness as possible.
It probably seems as though I’m hating on this movie a fair bit, but I certainly didn’t dislike it. I definitely laughed a lot and did enjoy a lot of the action, I also really liked the final act and how it concluded. I just didn’t find any of it to be particularly memorable in any way. It’s full of shiny set pieces with no substance, not making the best use of its cast and the storylines their characters introduce us to or fully living up to the comic book stories that inspired it. Another fun but passable entry in the MCU.
Web developer by day, with a movie and TV watchlist that continues to grow as much as my spare time reduces! My favourite movie is Inception and, despite what everyone says, I do not have a man-crush on Tom Cruise.