Movie Review: Thor: Love and Thunder

No spoilers to speak of, but it’s hard to spoil a movie that’s already gone bad

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It pains me to say this, but I have very little love and only harsh, critical thunder for Marvel’s latest Thor movie. They’ve only gotten better from the first Thor released in theaters in 2011, making 2017 Ragnarok best of the bunch, delightfully goofy fun. But every sequence has to end, and director and co-writer Taika Waititi gets lost here.

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love and thunderThe opening of looks more like a post-credits scene from another Marvel movie, as a grumpy curmudgeon named Gorr (Christian Bale) reinvents himself as Gorr the God Butcher. He looks like a louder version of Voldemort and is armed with something called a necro-sword, which looks like a regular sword, except I’m assuming from the name that it – kills people? No wait, it kills gods! That’s what Thor is! Oh no! (Spoiler Rule 1: Anything that happens in the first 10 minutes is fair game.)

So Thor must stop Gorr, who for good measure kidnapped all the young people of New Asgard, a town in Norway where Thor’s people settled after the planetary destruction that was Ragnarok. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is aided by Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (a rock creature voiced by Waititi), and Thor.

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Yeah, love and thunder features two Thors, the second played by Natalie Portman, the Thunder God’s former love interest, who also missed the last film. It looks like her science character, Jane Foster, is suffering from stage four cancer – an oddly specific and terrible real-world disease for a Marvel movie – and only Thor’s hammer can keep her alive. But it also kills her slowly. I don’t know how or why, but it does. (Rule two: you can’t mess up what you don’t understand.)

Christian Bale plays a grumpy curmudgeon named Gorr the God Butcher.
Christian Bale plays a grumpy curmudgeon named Gorr the God Butcher. Picture from Disney

So while Thortman gets the hammer of Mjölnir, Hemsthor has to make do with Stormbreaker, a heavy battle axe. His subsequent desire for his old weapon is funny for about half of its runtime, and points to one of this movie’s main problems – the old jokes are overdone, while the new ones are undersold.

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And speaking of underselling, enjoy Guardians of the Galaxy while you can, because despite their prominence in the trailers, they’re little more than a collective cameo in the finished film. They can fight creatures that look like breeding Muppets madmax on star wars pod racers, which is indicative of another of the film’s problems – it’s like a 1980s movie was given a 2020s budget. ThorThe announced price of $250 million, we are now at the point where Waititi finally has more money than he knows what to do with.

He throws a lot of that cash into a scene in Omnipotent City, which I briefly thought was the name of that Google-run neighborhood that was nearly built on Toronto’s waterfront. It’s actually the lair of the gods, and the one part of the movie that almost takes a giddy and entertaining flight, though I’m not sure if we needed Loki’s cameo. (Rule three: it’s not a spoiler if you just made it up.)

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But the rest of the film is a little washed out. Even the climactic battle feels uninspired, as if the film is just going through the stages en route to a resolution and some post-credit footage. (Rule four: it’s not a spoiler if you know it’s coming.) welcome to the jungle in your film to inflate things? I feel like Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle It was a good time to let it rest, but it’s still in heavy rotation at the multiplex.

The film ends with a promise, once relegated to the Bond franchise, that “Thor will return.” We can also assume that Waititi, now with two Marvel movies under his belt, will also be back for more. I just hope these two comic thunder gods manage to capture lightning in a bottle again. love and thunder was not it.

Thor: Love and Thunder opens July 8 in theaters.

2 out of 5 stars

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