Thor: Love and Thunder

Posted: August 12, 2022 in Film reviews

Directed by Taika Waititi. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Tessa Thompson and Russell Crowe.

Seen in July.

Thor (Hemsworth) has been bumming around the universe with the Guardians of the Galaxy, saving countless civilisations and getting into lots of fights and trying not to think about how heartbroken he is that his relationship with Jane Foster (Portman) ended many years before.

At the same time Jane has problems of her own, she has stage four cancer and is facing her own mortality. Desperate for a cure she finds herself drawn to New Asgard, and the fragmented remains of Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir.

Meanwhile an entire civilisation dies except for one man, Gorr (Bale). Finding himself in the presence of his God, Gorr discovers that the deity is vain and uncaring, and has barely noticed that his subjects, including Gorr’s daughter, have died. His philosophy seems to be that he can always get more followers. Enraged Gorr uses the God killing Necrosword to kill his own God, and then vows to kill all the Gods.

When Thor learns of Gorr’s crusade he travels to New Asgard to protect it. Gorr attacks but Thor is surprised to find that New Asgard has an additional protector. Jane now wields a restored Mjolnir and the hammer has imbued her with the power of Thor.

With time running out Thor and Jane must join forces with Valkyrie (Thompson) and Korg ( Waititi) to stop Gorr.  

So let’s be honest here, 2017’s Thor Ragnarok was a joy from start to finish, due in no small part to Taika Waititi’s direction and a great script coupled with Hemsworth’s wonderful portrayal of the God of Thunder, so when it was announced that we were getting a fourth Thor film, and that Waititi was again directing I got excited. When it turned out Portman would be returning, and would actually get something to do this time, I was even more thrilled. The casting of Bale as the bad guy and the presence of the Guardians of the Galaxy were just the icing on the cake.

This is the part where I tell you Love and Thunder is terrible, right?

Wrong. It’s a highly enjoyable romp. Is it as good as Ragnarok? No but could we get that lucky? It’s flawed, perhaps even a little forgettable, but while I was watching it I had a whale of a time, and I like to think most people will.

Hemsworth could probably play Thor in his sleep now, and while some people get annoyed at his loveable idiot persona, I think it’s perfect, playing Thor completely straight wouldn’t work, he lives in a realm of magic and giants, enchanted hammers and rainbow bridges, leave the grounded stuff for Cap and those like him and Thor, don’t ever change!

When reviewing Multiverse of Madness I pointed out that previously Marvel had hired great actresses, then gave them barely anything to work with. This was very true of Portman, but they’ve made up for it here. From Jane having to deal with her cancer, to kicking Arse as the Mighty Thor. It’s a great performance and I have to say she looks fab in her Thor get up. Hands down she’s the best part of the film.

There’s a hint of Eccleston’s villain from Thor 2 in Bale’s Gorr, but while Eccleston kind phoned it in, Bale throws himself into the role, and is truly terrifying at times, but also curiously empathetic at others.

Thomson as Valkyrie and Waititi himself voicing Korg are ok, but neither land quite as well as they did in Ragnorak.

That leaves Russell Crowe, with yet another extravagant accent playing Zeus. Some people have balked at Zeus being portrayed as a vain, gluttonous, lecherous buffoon, these people have obviously never read what Zeaus was like in the myths, and Crowe nails it perfectly, he also doesn’t outstay his welcome.

Oh and the Guardians of the Galaxy show up, on the downside they’re in the film for about five minutes, on the up side they’re very funny (although Platt felt a little off as Starlord).

Waititi direction and script are good, though the film does suffer tonally. There’s no reason a film can’t be both funny and serious by turns, but tonally Love and Thunder shifts too quickly from one to another. Some of the humour is very juvenile (not necessarily a bad thing) while Gorr as a character is deadly serious. Some aspects of Jane’s cancer land clunkily, and the least said about the child soldiers are a good thing aspect the better. It’s also relatively short as Marvel films go, which isn’t a terrible thing as some of them do go on a bit, but you can’t help feeling things are missing; in particular it’s a shame we don’t see Jane’s initial transformation into the Mighty Thor.

Suffers by comparison to Ragnarok, but if you’re a Marvel/Thor fan there’s still a whole lot to enjoy here, and I’m really hoping we haven’t seen the last of Natalie Portman with a big hammer…    

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