Whatever Taika Waititi was smoking when he co-wrote the screenplay to THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER, I want some of that. The God of Thunder is back with a new adventure and it’s completely wacky… until it’s not.
As THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER begins, Thor (Chris Hemsworth, EXTRACTION; BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE) is still trying to find himself after the tragic events of THOR: RAGNAROK where Odin died and Asgård was destroyed as was, more importantly, his beloved Mjolnir. To keep busy, he pals around with the Guardians of the Galaxy but he’s more trouble than he’s worth and the Guardians are quite happy to see him go. When word comes that a man named Gorr (Christian Bale, FORD v FERRARI; VICE; THE BIG SHORT) is in possession of a god-killing weapon called the Necrosword and he’s on a mission to wipe out all the gods in revenge for letting his daughter die, Thor heads to New Asgard to fight him off. At the same time, Thor’s ex-girlfriend, Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman, ANNIHILATION; JACKIE), arrives in the Norwegian village-turned-tourist trap, drawn to Mjolnir which is calling to her. Reaching the hammer, it reassembles itself and, when she grabs it, it gives her the power of Thor. After Gorr kidnaps New Asgard’s children, Thor, Jane, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson, PASSING; SYLVIE’S LOVE) and Korg (Waititi, JOJO RABBIT), head off to Olympus to try to enlist all the other gods to join forces with them. Unfortunately, Zeus (Russell Crowe, FATHERS AND DAUGHTERS; NOAH) has more important things on his mind and our heroes find themselves on their own, following Gorr to the Shadow Realm. Gorr, though, has a bigger plan afoot.
For the first two-thirds of the film, THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER is an absolute hoot as Waititi and his co-writer Jennifer Kaytin Robinson (SOMEONE GREAT) toss out one-liners and over-the-top situations like rice thrown at a wedding. For the most part, they work — especially the goats — due, in no small part, to the talented cast… and the goats. Hemsworth leans into his character’s himbo image, maybe a little too much, and the scene where he bares his tush to us and, presumably, his frontal area to the people of Olympus, is as funny as it is in the trailer. Crowe, meanwhile, camps up his character with bacchanalian excess sounding much like a guy who sells gyros and cold Pepsis for a living. The winning performance, though, comes from Bale, whose “God Butcher” character looks like a Saharan Nosferatu. Everything goes swimmingly well until the third act when the story gets down to the nitty-gritty. The core of THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER is really about the unfairness of death and the loss of faith — hardly subjects one can laugh about, although if anyone is going to try to mine nuggets from them, Waititi’s your guy. I can certainly appreciate that not everyone wants to sit through a two-hour MARVEL film that’s dour but Waititi and Robinson aren’t able to find the right balance between humour and pathos. By the time the last needle-dropped Guns N’ Roses song plays, we’re left a jumbled bag of emotions. Thor grows up, Gorr isn’t such a bad guy after all and… have I mentioned the goats?
If it weren’t for the huge success that THOR: RAGNAROK was, I might have liked THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER more than I did. It’s okay but perhaps I was expecting something better than this.
THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER opens around the world today. Certainly, check it out and let me know what you think.
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