Thor enlists the support of Valkyrie, Korg, and his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster to combat Gorr the God Butcher, who wants to extinguish the gods. This is Thor Movie Review 2022: Love and Thunder.
“Thor: Love and Thunder” is essentially a victory lap for what filmmaker Taika Waititi accomplished with his previous Marvel film, the frequently humorous, rousing, and invigorating “Thor: Ragnarok.” And, despite having too many familiar flourishes and quips, this enjoyable sequel is still a force for good, with enough visual ambition and emotion in front of and behind the camera to stand on its own.
On a path of recovery, we meet our space Viking hero and thunderous Norse god Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Thor has gone “from dad bod to god bod” (to quote Waititi’s voiceover summary, delivered by his still-charming rock-bodied softy character Korg).
The people of Asgard gathered in a port town called New Asgard after their home realm was destroyed in “Thor: Ragnarok.” Their charismatic leader, King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), has helped them adjust to life on Earth, which includes working as a tourist attraction.
Thor gets back into world-saving condition with the help of the Guardians of the Galaxy in a brief visit, and in a Guns N’ Roses-accompanied moment early on, he unleashes stylish, high-flying murder a la several moments in “Thor: Ragnarok,” using his axe Stormbreaker. But he has no one to celebrate his victory with, and after hundreds of years, Thor has accepted that he will never discover true love.
The film then reintroduces a more fascinating hero in Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Thor’s prior human love interest from his more serious days in the earlier films. She now wields the reconstructed bits of Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, transforming into the Mighty Thor with helmet and cape, but at a cost. Every time she utilizes the power, it depletes her human capability, which is especially heartbreaking given that she has Stage Four cancer.
“Thor: Love and Thunder” gently reintroduce Jane into the action while deepening her connection with Thor. Portman’s acting emphasizes why it’s lovely to see Jane again in both her human and heroic states.
This time, the antagonist is Gorr the God Butcher, a troubled character filled with a vengeance who supplies the shadows to the film’s massive moments of light. After his daughter’s death converts him to atheism, Gorr is selected by a weapon known as the Necrosword and raises an army of shapeshifting dark animals to destroy all gods, beginning with the one who disregarded his screams for aid.
Christian Bale is a standout in the character, switching between high and low voices and loving the opportunity to flash his razor-sharp teeth. It’s the closest we’ll get to see him portray Pennywise the Clown, with a dash of Voldemort thrown in for good measure, but with the same humility Bale brings to his most human, humbling roles.
Even when “Thor: Love and Thunder” undersells his god butchering for the purpose of a more sentimental narrative and making him share scenes with terrified children, he can be a lot of fun to watch.
“Thor: Love and Thunder,” co-written by Waititi and Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, just doesn’t bloom as much as it could. Part of the messiness comes from the film’s main conflict, in which Gorr the God Butcher attacks New Asgard at night in a chaotic spontaneous fight scene in which Waititi’s usually steady vision for Thor’s action is lost. The apparently terrifying moment simply occurs, and it’s impossible to follow what’s going on in the dark, as shadow creatures battle the Asgardians and steal their children.
A visual comedy with a collapsing flaming structure in the background—timed for when Thor meets-cute again with Jane as a hammer-wielding, ass-kicking, Mighty Thor—just doesn’t work.
To stop Gorr and save the stolen children, Jane, Thor, King Valkyrie, and Korg pay a visit to the god of lightning Zeus and the other Gods, who lounge in a golden forum and discuss the next orgy, unafraid of what Gorr has planned for them.
One of the more eye-catching set elements is a golden and white rendition of the Galactic Senate from “Star Wars,” with a grab-bag of wacky animals (one has hairy feet and a face, that’s all; another is a Korg related). But it’s also a point in the film where the focus shifts to future “Thor” stories at the expense of the current one, as seen by a shrugging cameo in the end credits.
It’s also one of many passages in which it’s evident that Tessa Thompson’s character of King Valkyrie, despite her proven prominence and swagger in “Thor: Ragnarok,” has been weirdly shoved to the side.
“Thor: Love and Thunder” toy with the idea of when a call-back plot beat or joke is simply playing the hits, in the same way, that there are a million Guns N’ Roses allusions and needle drops in this movie just because, and you’re meant to head-bang each time.
All of its pop culture ad-libs, or punched-up heroic things about coming up with catchy phrases—when those gags sound comfortable rather than out of the left field, they fall flat. At its foundation, “Thor: Love and Thunder” is a blockbuster comedy sequel, and its poorer material reminds you of that even when it’s still enjoyable for a few laughs.
Despite lacking the general freshness that marked the previous film, “Thor: Love and Thunder” is improved by its bolder, dramatic passages that are like mini-movies on how love comes at the cost of loss.
Gorr is introduced in a harrowing bit of bubble gum Ingmar Bergman, clutching his dead child and rejecting his god before murdering him, all before the Marvel Studios credit card comes into play with electric guitars. Eventually on, Waititi portrays us the Jane and Thor romance—its comfort and later its isolation—as a spin-off of his own eccentric movie “Eagle vs. Shark.”
It’s really hilarious at times, but always with brutal honesty in the frame, especially when the two then see if love can be salvaged in the current diminishing timescale. Along with Jane’s compelling cancer plot, it’s these genuine moments that reveal the actual motivations behind “Thor: Love and Thunder,” even if everything is afterward addressed in too cutesy or enthusiastically crowd-pleasing a manner to hit as hard as they’re plainly meant to.
The most important lesson from “Thor: Love and Thunder,” aside from the fact that Waititi should get that “Star Wars” trilogy he’s been hinting at, is his strong use of color, both visually and philosophically. It’s not just the eye-catching colors, which include Zeus’ army spewing golden blood or a bravura black-and-white fight sequence between Gorr and Thor on a tiny color-draining planet that uses chosen flashes of blue light to great effect. It’s that assured tone that preaches how a film can combine god-killing and kid-friendly crowd-pleasing scenes with a gooey love message.
This sequel is not without qualms, but Waititi continues to demonstrate how distinctive big movies can still be if their storytellers continue to embrace some of their most darkest and comedic concepts.