Thor: Love and Thunder is a story that only reaches half of its potential.
Towards his journey of peace and the beginning of understanding his true self, Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) plans get interrupted by a galactic killer who seeks to end the existence of all Gods. As he ventures off to handle his unfinished business before settling into retirement, Gorr the God Butcher isn’t the only thing standing in Thor’s way. In fact, a new Mighty Thor, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), has made a sudden appearance. Left to unravel his rekindled feelings amongst the extinction of Gods, Thor must find a way to handle each conflict to prove, once and for all, that he is worthy of both love and peace.
Taika Waititi has returned to direct and co-write the sequel to Thor: Ragnarok. In collaboration with screenwriter Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, they set out to remind viewers that Thor is more than brawn and a master of quick wits. In Thor: Love and Thunder, the writing duo attempt to show a softer side of the God of Thunder, and they do accomplish this up to a point. Underneath its charming romance that feels a little too late and an adventure that is plagued by VFX troubles, this is a story that only reaches half of its potential despite having some fun along the way.
Waititi’s superhero adventure film, Thor: Love and Thunder, feels underbaked yet thrilling at the same time. In the first act in particular, the story really drags due to problems with the tone and finding the proper balance in setting the mood for viewers. Waititi’s knack for abrupt humor and goofiness is put on full blast throughout his story, which ultimately hurts it in the end. Having to juggle a serious storyline like Foster’s stage 4 cancer diagnosis is a big ask from a director of his caliber. To circumvent much of the heavy emotional lifting in their writing, Waititi and Robinson settle for quick jokes in moments that don’t feel realistic to place them, which doesn’t always work for the story they’re trying to tell.
But when these tonal shifts aren’t hampering the film’s quality, it is the chemistry between Hemsworth’s Thor and Portman’s Mighty Thor that is worthy enough to fill theater seats. Their story within Love and Thunder is a bittersweet one that reminds us of all the years of wasted potential. Still, it’s an enjoyable time when the flashbacks of their relationship and cute present-day moments between the two become central to the story. That, in combination with the film’s third act, which is filled with dark horror-like scenes, improves the overall enjoyment and quality of the film where other components have failed.
“Underbaked yet thrilling”
In his 8th appearance as Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Chris Hemsworth reminds us why he has always been the perfect casting choice to play the God of Thunder. And in Love and Thunder, he will show viewers exactly why that is. Over the years, Hemsworth has really settled into the role showcasing his ability to adapt to the various versions of Thor on screen. He has perfected comedic timing in addition to his ability to act with his entire body. Truly, it’s been a pleasure watching him grow as the character even when his character has not particularly grown himself. Christian Bale is also a standout as the God Butcher. The horror elements within the film exceeded expectations and enabled him to put on an acting showcase like we’d expect him to.
About midway through the latest entry featuring the star, Hemsworth’s Thor says in so many words that he feels like he hadn’t known who he truly was for a long time. In a way, that sentiment in that moment kind of felt like the writers admitting that they didn’t know what to do with the character all these years. I’m not entirely sure that all the problems surrounding the characterization of Thor in the MCU has subsided after Love and Thunder, but it’s a long-awaited welcomed start though perhaps, a little too late.
Ultimately, Thor: Love and Thunder is a fine enough time at the theaters if you’re looking for mindless entertainment for the weekend. While the story takes a while to find its footing, the third act reminds us about the inherent goodness of these beloved characters and why they’ve been working so well on screen all these years. If this is close to the end of Thor’s adventures, it’s been a fun ride even when the characterization hasn’t always been the best.
We’ve got the mighty Chris Hemsworth to thank for that.
Check out the trailer for Thor: Love and Thunder in studios this weekend: