July 7, 2022

CINEMA | Silly and Grim – 'Thor: Love and Thunder' Strikes Out

"If it's colour we need, let's bring the rainbow!"
Chris Hemsworth Taika Waititi | Thor: Love and Thunder | Marvel Studios
Marvel Studios
Charming New Zealander Taika Waititi returns to the world of Asgard alongside Thor star Chris Hemsworth in Marvel Studios' first fourth solo superhero outing, Thor: Love and Thunder. Featuring tons of both very silly goofball humour and seriously grim gothic horror imagery of "god butchering," the colourful fantasy adventure struggles to merge these opposing tones.

Former Batman actor Christian Bale co-stars as the slithering Gorr the God Butcher, a disillusioned and skeletal disciple turned possessed god killer out for vengeance. There's some ripe commentary about devote religious faith that feels very severely undercooked. Still, his committed vampiric performance feels like it's from a different film in contrast to Waititi's almost sketch show-like jokes and comedic bits with Hemsworth hamming up the scattered screwball romantic comedy elements

Natalie Portman returns as Jane who now wields Mjolnir the hammer as "the Mighty Thor" while Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie returns with not much to do besides being very cool—which she accomplishes easily. There are a host of other fun appearances including Russell Crowe's strange interpretation as an unhinged Zeus and the team from Guardians of the Galaxy showing up at the beginning for an extended fight montage.

Chris Hemsworth Taika Waititi | Thor: Love and Thunder | Marvel Studios

Hemsworth continues to be a compelling and fun Thor able to quip and run off on random intergalactic adventures. Bale and Portman do their best but just do not fit in with their more serious performances in the bright and shiny Love and Thunder. Then there are the awkward romantic comedy elements as Thor and Jane have a meet-cute to possibly rekindle their mismatched reunited romance with a shoehorned ticking clock on their reunion.

Scripted by Waititi and Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, much of the film feels rushed with Portman's reintroduction, the visual jokes about New Asgard, and catching up with Thor getting absolutely shredded again. Despite Bale's powerhouse performance hamming it up as a particularly tortured supervillain, his motivations and backstory have little breadth to hold our attention before he strikes out against all the gods.

The ramshackle, Guns N' Roses-filled Thor: Love and Thunder mostly coasts on the quirky charms and vibrant energy of its predecessor, Ragnarok. There's a lot of fun and wild blockbuster gags, but its often opulent aims feel somehow rather small and oddly intimate at times in its crisscrossed focus to pack so much into a tight two hours.

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