Movie Review: ‘Thor: Love And Thunder’

Thor: Love And Thunder, the latest instalment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and fourth standalone Thor movie, has finally arrived in cinemas – but is the God of Thunder’s latest adventure worthy of your time? While Taika Waititi’s silly approach to the Marvel Cinematic Universe threatens to derail the whole film, there’s no denying that Thor: Love And Thunder is a damn good time at the cinema.

The film finds Thor (Chris Hemsworth) on a journey unlike anything he’s ever faced – a quest for inner peace. But his retirement is interrupted by a galactic killer known as Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who seeks the extinction of the gods. To combat the threat, Thor enlists the help of King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Taika Waititi) and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who – to Thor’s surprise – inexplicably wields his magical hammer, Mjolnir, as the Mighty Thor. Together, they embark upon a harrowing cosmic adventure to uncover the mystery of the God Butcher’s vengeance and stop him before it’s too late.

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From the very beginning, Thor: Love And Thunder was billed as the MCU’s first romantic comedy – and this is easily the films biggest strength. Taika Waititi goes above and beyond to place the romance at the centre of the film, resulting in a genuinely fun, realistic and exciting romantic adventure. Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman have great chemistry this time around, and the relationship between Thor and Jane feels more authentic and relatable than ever before. This might be the first time watching a Marvel movie that I genuinely cared about the romantic element of the film as much as the larger storyline that is unfolding.

I said in my review of Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness that filmmakers clearly have more control over Marvel projects than we previously thought, and this is made clearer than ever with Thor: Love And Thunder. While it is still very much an MCU movie, with all of the bells and whistles that fans have come to expect, Thor: Love And Thunder is a Taika Waititi film through and through. For better or worse, the filmmaker brings his own style and personality to every inch of the film – breaking away from the tropes of the comic-book genre.

Ever since Hunt For The Wilderpeople director Taika Waititi boarded the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor has been taken in a more comedic and somewhat silly direction. Waititi’s unique comedic style opened the door for Chris Hemsworth to explore a different side to the character, while also giving filmmakers like the Russo Brothers the opportunity to have some fun with the God of Thunder. For the most part, the franchise has managed to maintain a strong balance between Thor’s comedic side and the more serious aspects of the character, but Taika Waititi all but obliterates that here.

Thor: Love And Thunder is by far the silliest MCU film to date, featuring a fast paced, joke-filled narrative that barely stops to take a breath between one-liners. Many of the films best moments were the more serious and touching scenes, which could have been infinitely more impactful if they weren’t immediately overshadowed by a dumb joke. That’s not to say that the comedy doesn’t work at all, in fact, Thor: Love And Thunder is one of the funniest Marvel films to date. When the jokes land they REALLY land, it’s just a shame that Waititi couldn’t find the perfect balance between the comedy and the more serious and emotional elements of the film. Waititi ultimately manages to piece together some remarkably touching moments, as well as a few badass action sequences, but it must be said that the filmmakers commitment to the sillier side of the narrative comes very close to derailing the entire film.

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Thor: Love And Thunder features one of the most impressive casts that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has ever pieced together, and the film puts some truly brilliant performances on display. Chris Hemsworth knows Thor inside out and out at this point, but the actor keeps finding fresh ways to reinvent the character and explore something new. This might not be Hemsworth’s best outing as the God of Thunder (I’d say that’s still Avengers: Infinity War), but the actor still delivers an outrageously fun, charming and surprisingly vulnerable performance. Thor has perhaps the most interesting arc out of any character in the franchise, and it’s a great deal of fun to watch the character evolve with each new adventure.

Natalie Portman is back and better than ever as Jane Foster, this time suiting-up as the Mighty Thor. While it would have been nice to see the film explore Jane’s origin as Mighty Thor in more depth, the character still has arguably the most interesting and compelling storyline in the entire film. Portman manages to deliver a deeply emotional and touching performance, while also playing into the silliness of the film and delivering some truly hilarious moments. Tessa Thompson’s King Valkyrie and Waititi’s Korg are also back, but they might not be better than ever. We don’t get to spend as much time with Valkyrie and Korg as we could have, and more often than not the characters are just there for the big action sequences or more comedic scenes.

While Marvel once had a bit of a villain problem, I think it’s fair to say that we can stop worrying. The franchise has given us a handful of great villains in recent years, and Christian Bale’s Gorr the God Butcher can certainly be included in that category. While Gorr feels somewhat underutilised, particularly as the focus is turned to Jane’s arrival as Mighty Thor, the character stands as one of the MCU’ most sympathetic and terrifying villains to date. It would have been easy for Christian Bale to phone-in a good performance as Gorr, but the actor feels fully committed to the role and his performance stands out as the highlight of the film.

Thor: Love And Thunder is the latest Marvel movie that would have benefitted from a slightly longer runtime and slower pacing. The film moves at 100 miles an hour and doesn’t seem even slightly interested in exploring anything in any real kind of depth. There are entire storylines and character arcs in here that feel entirely rushed over, including Jane Fosters transformation into the Mighty Thor. While the fast pace certainly helps to make Thor: Love And Thunder a fun and electrifying Marvel adventure, it’s hard not to wonder if things would have worked better if the film had more room to breath.

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There has been a lot of talk online about the look of Thor: Love And Thunder, with many criticising the films visuals based on a handful of screenshots. While there are definitely moments where the cinematography and visual effects could have been better, Thor: Love And Thunder is actually one of the most visually impressive films that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has produced. Taika Waititi plays with the visuals in a really fun way, especially when it comes to his introduction of the Shadow Realm, and the filmmaker delivers some truly stunning sequences that are unlike anything we’ve seen in the MCU before.

Thor: Love And Thunder is an exceptionally fun and funny Marvel adventure, which features great performances, a compelling romance and some surprisingly stunning visuals. It’s hard not to get swept away in the adventure of it all, but Taika Waititi’s commitment to the sillier side of the franchise, as well as the films extremely short runtime, stop Thor: Love And Thunder from reaching the heights of the franchise.

Rating: 3/5

About Thor: Love And Thunder

Director: Taika Waititi

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Christian Bale, and Taika Waititi

Synopsis: The film finds Thor (Chris Hemsworth) on a journey unlike anything he’s ever faced – a quest for inner peace. But his retirement is interrupted by a galactic killer known as Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who seeks the extinction of the gods. To combat the threat, Thor enlists the help of King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Taika Waititi) and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who – to Thor’s surprise – inexplicably wields his magical hammer, Mjolnir, as the Mighty Thor. Together, they embark upon a harrowing cosmic adventure to uncover the mystery of the God Butcher’s vengeance and stop him before it’s too late.

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