THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER (2022)
Fourth solo adventure for the God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) begins with our hero trying to find himself while traveling with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Meanwhile his old flame Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is battling terminal cancer and seeks a more mythical cure in New Asgard. On another world, the death of his daughter and the acquiring of a god killing sword, The Necrosword, transforms the humble Gorr (Christian Bale) into the vengeful God Butcher. Of course, all three storylines collide as Thor is on Gorr’s hitlist and Jane has achieved a startling transformation.
Sequel is directed again by Taika Waititi from his messy script with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson. A messy script translates into a mess of a movie, which sadly takes Thor two steps back from the noble hero of Avengers: Infinity War and turns him into a pontificating goofball. The film is disjointed and jumps from one set piece to another, giving the impression that at just slightly over two hours, there is a lot left on the cutting room floor…which might be a good thing. The whole middle section of the film is a waste of time with a silly visit to the realm of Zeus (Russell Crowe) and accomplishes basically nothing as it leaves us with Thor, a transformed Jane’s Mighty Thor, Korg (voice again by Waititi) and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) to battle Gorr on their own…which is where it started out. The good news is, Gorr is one of the better Marvel villains with Bale creating a truly frightening god-killing boogie man. He needs Thor’s Stormbreaker to open a gateway to an eternal where he can get one wish granted, and he’s not above kidnapping Asgardian children to get it. The scenes on Gorr’s Shadow Realm are some of the scariest scenes conjured in a Marvel film. Take THAT Doctor Strange! The digital FX are quite spectacular, but some of the sets, especially New Asgard, look cheap and make the film look cheap. A Marvel rarity. The battles with Gorr and his demonic minions move well, but the film does drag in spots and overall seems to have no purpose as it leads to an oddly unsatisfying climax. A disappointing follow-up to the well-balanced fun and action of Thor: Ragnarök.
The cast is good. Hemsworth could play Thor in his sleep at this point, and as Waititi’s script requires him to do little but make bold statements between moments of buffoonery and battle, he might as well have. Thor is played for laughs even more than in Ragnarök and it’s a shame, as Infinity War proved he’s capable of much more. Portman makes a welcome return to the series but as her storyline is tragic, it is a bittersweet return and her chemistry with Hemsworth feels forced this time. Thompson is fun as Queen Valkyrie and deserves her own series or film. Christian Bale makes a strong villain with far less screen time and development then he deserves. He is sympathetic as a father losing a child and very disturbing and scary as a villain with no qualms about kidnapping the children of others. Strong work by the former Batman. Waititi makes Korg endearing and fun as he was in past films and has some of the funnier lines. There are a lot of fun cameos, including Crowe’s pompous Zeus, The Guardians and a returning Kat Dennings’ Darcy, along with some fun surprises too.
Love and Thunder is one of Marvel’s few stumbles, including the boring Eternals, the lackluster Captain Marvel and the equally messy Iron Man 3. It makes a buffoon of a lead character who had far more depth in previous films and squanders a great performance by Bale with too little screentime and character development for his very scary villain. It drags in spots and has an entire midsection which seems only to serve as comic relief and a set-up for Thor 5. The sets look cheap at times and the film as a whole seems to serve no purpose only coming to life when Bale’s disturbing Gorr is on screen. If you do see it, stay through the credits for two of the least interesting mid and post credits scenes in some time. A resounding disappointment.
Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) Mjölnirs!