Thor: Love And Thunder (2022)
Directed by Taika Waititi
Written by Taika Waititi & Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
Story by Taika Waititi
Produced by Kevin Feige and Brad Winderbaum
PG-13, 1h 59m
“I was entertained. Probably won’t remember much after that.” Such was Mrs. Boss’ reaction to Thor: Love and Thunder, and it’s somewhat more charitable than I’m willing to give it.
Basically, Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth) has been off “finding himself” in the midst of adventures with the Guardians of the Galaxy — who are completely wasted in this film and don’t even really need to be there — and it’s during these adventures they get a slew of distress calls from across the galaxy. Turns out there’s this guy named Gorr (Christian Bale), a true believer whose daughter dies in his arms, destroying his belief in his gods. When the legendary weapon known as the Necrosword connects with Gorr, he goes on a rampage to kill all the gods everywhere. A signal from Sif (Jaimie Alexander) gets Thor out of his contemplative navel-gazing and back in the fight with a purpose. Learning from Sif that New Asgard is the next target, he runs back to Earth, where he finds that Mjölnir has a new best friend in Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).
That’s the setup. And it really feels like they shot two films and mashed them together. Bale’s chewing the scenery with the best of them, and he delivers an acceptable level of menace, but the contrast with the slapstick humor is enough to give you whiplash, and a lot of the humor feels forced.
It gets interesting when they get to the Shadow Realm (the black & white footage we’ve seen in the trailers), but there’s just as much of a plot hole mess in and around these scenes. If you stare too long at any one element of this film, it all starts to fall apart pretty quickly. As a visual contrast, the rest of the film has over-saturated color, especially in the moments off Earth when Thor goes before Zeus to request aid in fighting Gorr. The bright colors are very much in keeping with the idea that this is a comic book movie, but there are moments when it feels over-baked. And given that we’re now hearing about the issues visual effects artists have had with Marvel, one starts to wonder if some pieces were overdone just because there might not have been a 100% solid plan.
All that aside, however, and despite the logic bombs with how she gets the hammer, Jane’s cancer arc is handled fairly well. And if Natalie Portman never comes back to the MCU, at least Jane has a bit of closure in her arc, something we weren’t likely to get after her appearance in Avengers: Endgame was accomplished by using previously existing footage. Having said that, it’s pretty lame that we don’t actually see the moment where Jane gets the hammer. That seems like it would be a pretty important piece, but if we were to get that scene, it would ruin the Comedy Gold™ moment when Thor realizes she’s wielding Mjölnir (“Jane?!”). Personally, I’d rather get the dramatic character moment than the comedy bit, because it’s so overdone.
And really… Jealous Stormbreaker is just stupid.
The occasional narration bits from Korg (Waititi) are the jarring needle scratch across the record to make this film every bit as annoying as it can be. They’re badly timed and interrupt the flow of the story, killing the pace so we can get a dose of “wink wink silly” moments before diving back into the story. I can see having them as bookends, or even just the first one at the beginning of the film, but the rest of them were wholly unnecessary.
Coming out of the theater, I felt like I had just watched Green Lantern again. The film tries too hard, injecting over-the-top humor into the story at random points in the story, and at some times it feels forced. It’s like Waititi and Marvel looked at the success of Thor: Ragnarok and decided this one needed to be a comedy, too. Only it’s just a comedy in certain moments, and those come into glaring conflict with the menace presented by Gorr. It’s almost as if there were two filmmakers, Waititi and maybe Feige? Who knows…
I told the PR people at the screening, that it felt like The Three Stooges got dropped into a Greek tragedy. The more I think on it, the more convinced I am that all three Stooges in this picture — Thor, Jane, and Valkyrie — are all just Larry Fine (with all due respect to Larry). Larry was never the one in charge, but also never the goofus who caused all the trouble. Larry was the one caught in the middle going along with whatever happened. And our Three Stooges here feel like that. They’re reacting and bouncing from one scene to the next because the plot needs them to be at a certain place to do a certain thing so we can get to the next scene.
Honestly, I felt a bit angry after coming out of the theater. There were some parts that were OK, but the majority of the film hangs together on slapstick at the expense of some really good work by Bale.
And the ending… Oof.
Swing and a miss for me, Marvel.