Thor: Love and Thunder substitutes humour for plot and the result is a mess.
2 out of 5
I enjoyed Taika Waititi's 2017 Thor: Ragnarok. It was fun, innovative and used humour. This sequel has a weak story and instead leans into the humour - too much. Screaming goats were funny on the internet ten years ago. The film is an aesthetic and storytelling mess from beginning to end, never knowing exactly what it wants to achieve while hindering most of its emotionally investing moments in favour of unfunny and irritating jokes.
Credit where credit is due: the opening scene is terrific. It brilliantly introduces the film’s main antagonist, Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), whose possession by the Necrosword corrupts his mind as he vows to kill all gods. Gorr gets the ultimate tragic backstory fueling his rage, and the audience totally sees where he’s coming from in that regard. His heart is broken to pieces and may never be stitched back together, as the Necrosword makes sure his actions will never be redeemed.
Every time Bale appears on screen, it’s always unclear what he’ll do next, or how he’ll trap the film’s protagonists for his own advantage. But since his screen time is so limited, and sparsely appears throughout the main story, the main threat feels completely weightless. Instead, Waititi prefers to spend most of the time cracking neverending jokes with Thor (Chris Hemsworth), as he reunites with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), for the first time in eight years. After being called upon by Mjolnir, Foster holds the mantle of The Mighty Thor and helps Thor out in tracking Gorr with Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Korg (Taika Waititi).
Because of this overreliance on jokes, Love and Thunder is never able to properly develop its characters, or make us care about anyone (or anything). We should be devastated for Jane and her cancer diagnosis or Gorr for that matter, but Waititi turns these tragic arcs into ridicule, and, as a result, renders the action devoid of any weight.
It also doesn’t help that the movie looks terrible, especially coming off of aesthetically dazzling productions like Eternals, Moon Knight, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and, most recently, Ms. Marvel. The action scenes have no energy to them, the visual effects feel unfinished, and Baz Idoine’s cinematography is completely devoid of any geography and style that made Marvel’s previous titles so cool.
There are few redeeming qualities in Thor: Love and Thunder. Christian Bale is great, but he’s barely in the film. So is Russell Crowe as Zeus, a mix of Tommy Wiseau meets Jeff Bridges’ The Dude. Hemsworth is always excellent, but the material he’s given turns his (and Portman’s) character into a complete farce as they both spew one unfunny joke after another. No one at Marvel seemed to have given any limits to the number of jokes, instead of giving Portman’s Jane Foster and Bale’s Gorr their time to shine in the most emotionally satisfying way for their characters, and for the fans.
I hope Christian Bale got a decent paycheck.