I Just Watched Thor: Love and Thunder
It’s Thursday night (Friday at time of posting), and I just got back from a showing of Thor: Love & Thunder. My immediate expectations when this movie got announced were high as Thor Raganorak was not only one of the best entries in the MCU; it’s simply one of the funniest Action movies ever made and is super easy to rewatch. Much of the success of Ragnarok was due to director Taiki Waititi as he gave a franchise that lacked soul a lot of life and vibrancy. He built character relationships, allowed the actors to show charisma through improvisation, added his own witty lines of dialogue, and then had a bumping soundtrack.
Then Thor: Love and Thunder gets released, and Rotten Tomatoes initially has it at 69%, which had me a tad worried. Though a couple of people I trust rated it a bit higher, and thus I went into the film uneasy, yet still optimistic because I trust Taika. I tried to breakdown and review the film with as little spoilers as possible.
The Wikipedia Description of the Film
Thor: Love and Thunder is a 2022 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Thor, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the direct sequel to Thor: Ragnarok (2017) and the 29th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film is directed by Taika Waititi, who co-wrote the script with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, and stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor alongside Christian Bale, Tessa Thompson, Jaimie Alexander, Waititi, Russell Crowe, and Natalie Portman. In the film, Thor attempts to find inner peace, but must return to action and recruit Valkyrie (Thompson), Korg (Waititi), and Jane Foster (Portman) — who is now the Mighty Thor — to stop Gorr the God Butcher (Bale) from eliminating all gods.
HOW I WOULD DESCRIBE THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER:
Despite being the fourth installment of a series that’s part of a much greater universe with a main character who has now been in close to ten films, Thor: Love and Thunder, at its core, is a Rom-Com. There also happens to be a devilishly scary villain. Fighting is also a crucial element of the film, from the actual battles to fighting for love, to fighting for revenge, and to fighting for a reason to go on.
WHAT WAS MY IMMEDIATE REACTION OUT OF THE THEATER:
An overall fun movie that was a total breeze to get through. I actually got a bit teary-eyed by the ending as well. Thor: Love and Thunder is not better than Ragnarok. However, it was a clear couple of tiers above the first two Thor movies. The supporting cast of this film is excellent. Tessa Thompson is ascendant as Valkyrie, her character is effortlessly cool, and she leaves you wanting more; I wouldn’t mind a Valkyrie movie or Disney Plus series at this point. Christian Bale is magnificent as Gorr the God Butcher; he goes to a dark place in this film and is quite possibly the scariest Marvel villain there’s been thus far. Taika Waititi’s Korg continues to be one of the funniest characters in modern cinema.
What about the leads? Straight up: Hemsworth and Portman are not a perfect pair together. Regardless, their comedic timing in this film is fluid, and they portray exes who still have the hots for each other incredibly well.
WHAT ARE THE FILM’S WEAKNESSES AND GENERAL CRITICISMS:
The film lacks time to breathe. If they added 15–20 minutes to this movie and gave us more Bale or Portman/Hemsworth scenes, the movie would have felt a bit more complete. Then again, there was never really a dull moment in this film. Did I want more, though? Yeah.
A common complaint about this film and much of the MCU properties lately is that the Visual FX feel like they have been lacking in quality or have not advanced with the times for what most expect out of billion-dollar blockbusters. The opening fight in this film looks a bit like a PlayStation 4 game, not in a good way. Taika does an excellent job with mixing and contrasting colors. Except when you compare it to this Ragnarok (which felt like an acid trip at times), it seems like a clear step down visually. I will say, the soundtrack does maintain the same level of quality from Ragnarok.
There’s also a feeling of was this film consequential? We are in a weird Marvel phase post-Thanos where most of the original Avengers are out of the picture; meanwhile, Thor is currently hitting his stride, and this film feels like the beginning of a second trilogy (or the second film in a Taika trilogy). The current Thor problem is the new-wave Avengers have not gotten fully formed yet, and we don’t have a Big Bad for them to face, so Taika had to get a bit experimental. Reintroducing the Jane Foster character and relationship was such a bold fucking move. It’s crazy because Thor is such a different character from the first two movies when they were a romantic pair. While they are “exes,” they were like two new characters on-screen for the first time, and when you add the Mighty Thor element into the equation, things get a bit wacky. Taika went outside the box with Thor: Love and Thunder, and it doesn’t always hit in certain points as you’d like. At least he made sure the film was going to be funny and entertaining.
MY 1 BIG COMPLAINT:
Again, Christian Bale is so damn good as Gorr the God Butcher. My biggest complaint with this film is we did not get enough Gods. We should have seen more Gods on-screen, whether it be through battling Bale’s character or simply cameos at various points throughout the film.
WHAT WERE THE BEST PARTS OF THIS MOVIE:
The comedy. Hemsworth looks much happier when playing Thor these days, and the energy he brings to the role is invigorating. Thor feels like an improv teacher where he’s telling his students/supporting cast to just say yes to whatever gets thrown their way. Taika has so much fun with all the supporting cast — he saves most of the best jokes/lines of dialogue for the role players. There are multiple laugh-out-loud moments in the film and some good blink-or-you-’ll miss-it gags. As mentioned above, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Korg (Taika Waititi) shine in this film. In any good Rom-Com, the leads have a quirky best friend on their side, and Korg/Valkyrie fill those roles well while being their own hilarious characters your root for as individuals. Sidenote: The way Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie blurs the lines of gender/sexuality is absolutely incredible and is a phenomenal form of LGBTQ+ representation. Please, give us more Valkyrie down the line.
Portman puts so much heart into this performance, where she knows the MCU and Thor series moved on without her, and now she’s trying to play catch up. She looks and feels comfortable as the Mighty Thor. Hemsworth’s body is ridiculous in this film; there’s a joke about never skipping leg day, and they weren’t lying because the dude’s lower body is immaculate. Bro has some lovely cheeks.
Going to say it one last time: Christian Bale steals the show as Gorr the God Butcher. He is the best non-Thanos MCU villain since Killmonger. The film’s opening is an intro to his backstory that’s deeply sad and gives you an immediate understanding of his descent into evil. Those feelings of remorse get purged out for most of the movie once you see him in his complete butcher form, where he acts as a supernatural horror creature that feels like a hybrid of Freddy Krueger & Michael Myers except with Christian Bale’s acting chops. How Gorr moves when stalking his prey and attacking his enemies is terrifying. It’s discombobulating in comparison to the whimsical Rom-Com nature of the film, yet adds a needed sense of urgency and mortality to the picture. Bale knocks this role so out of the park that the only complaint is he needed about 10–15 more minutes of screen-time.
MY FINAL GRADE: 8.4 out of 10 (B)