Review Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)
Review Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has cleaned himself up, feeling renewed purpose to help others with his weapon, Stormbreaker, and his Asgardian powers, happy to be part of the Guardians of the Galaxy with his pal, Korg (Taika Waititi). When the Guardians depart, looking to ditch Thor, the God of Thunder is left with a new threat in Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), a man who once believed in a higher power, only to learn of godly cruelties, inspiring a plan of revenge while armed with the devastating Necrosword. Gor is looking to slaughter all gods while trying to reach Eternity, kidnapping the children of New Asgard to tempt Thor into the open. However, the hero isn’t easily defeated, joined by Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), a gift of magical goats, and The Mighty Thor, with ex-girlfriend Jane (Natalie Portman) trying to prevent the spread of illness by claiming Mjonir’s power, transforming her into a formidable warrior.
Waititi does particularly well with villains, continuing his interest in dark paths with Gor, whose story is economically detailed in the prologue for “Love and Thunder.” He was a simple man who trusted in his god, but Gor was betrayed by his faith, turned into a fool and soon a killer, taking the Necrosword on a journey to remove all gods from the universe. One doesn’t hire Bale to play it cool, and the actor goes all out as Gor, with the skeletal figure of doom an unusual antagonist, living to torment others while setting out on a defined journey to Eternity, backed by creatures of the Shadow Realm. He’s taken children, including Heimdall’s son, to inspire a rescue mission, and Thor is ready for action. At least for the most part.
One of the bright spots in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was 2017’s “Thor: Ragnarok,” with director Taika Waititi endeavoring to bring a specialized tone to the comic book spectacular, pulling away from character introductions and consequential acts of planetary heroism to make something slightly daffy with the “Space Viking.” “Ragnarok” was a gamble, with the MCU previously allowing the Guardians of the Galaxy to sniff around a lighter approach, but Waititi ran with the opportunity, crafting a hilarious adventure with Thor and his comrades, cranking up the Led Zeppelin and enormous action to present the cinematic equivalent of an extravagant custom van paint job. It was a terrific movie, and Waititi has returned (with a co-writing credit) to deliver the next chapter in the “Thor” saga, restoring the atmosphere of the previous odyssey with a slightly heavier round of freewheeling fun, looking to keep the God of Thunder loose and amusing, but also hitting the big guy with some profound emotional weight this time out.
“Love and Thunder” finds Thor trying to find his place in the world again after time spent with the Guardians of the Galaxy, eager to return to power as the hero everyone looks up to, but writing disrupts such confidence with the reappearance of Jane, who’s keeping herself alive with Mjolnir, which has reformed in the human’s presence. Thor is floored by this reunion, unsure how to process seeing Jane as The Mighty Thor, wearing his outfit, and one of the best running gags in the feature is his secret interest in reconnecting with his beloved hammer, leading to some jealousy issues with Stormbreaker. “Love and Thunder” crisply arranges a plot and establishes emotional stakes, and it keeps the story on the move, sending Thor, Jane, Valkyrie, and Korg out into the world to acquire the help they need. This involves a visit to Zeus (a very silly Russell Crowe), with his powerful lightning bolt just the thing the gang needs to take on Gor.
Waititi is making a comedy with “Love and Thunder,” working to revive the “Ragnarok” mood with defined playfulness from the cast, including Hemsworth, who seems to love playing Thor as an insecure Asgardian putting on a show of hypermasculinity to keep up appearances. Laughs are sizable in the endeavor, but there’s a grim side to the screenplay that’s a little harder for the helmer to manage. Jane’s illness is addressed, and Gor’s intro includes the death of his daughter, giving him the inspiration to rage. This heaviness doesn’t always balance with goofiness, leading to a few awkward breaks in the action, but Waititi is trying to land a more sensitive “Thor,” and it works for the most part, exploring the tension between Thor and Jane as they work with their special powers and confront their personal history.