Here’s our review for “Thor: Love and Thunder,” which opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, July 8…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
When Taika Waititi dropped “Thor: Ragnarok” back in 2017, audiences were understandably pessimistic about what could expected after the first two “Thor” movies failed to really break through the Marvel Cinematic Universe zeitgeist.
In fact, Thor’s appearance in “The Avengers” movie was far more beloved than either of the solo films before it with both the first film and “Thor: The Dark World” near the bottom of the list in terms of all time ratings for MCU movies.
But Waititi changed everything with “Thor: Ragnarok,” which was a wholly different take on the character as he injected a ton of humor and heart into his story that also involved some rather bleak moments including the death of Odin and Thor’s famous hammer Mjolnir being shattered into pieces not to mention having his eye gouged out. The film was praised for the perfect balance between action, story and comedy with Waititi quickly becoming one of the most sought out directors in Hollywood.
Fast forward five years and Waititi is back with “Thor: Love and Thunder” — a follow up to “Ragnarok” but more importantly the first “Thor” film in a post “Avengers: Endgame” world where many of the original Avengers are gone. Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson have all said goodbye to the Marvel films, which leaves Chris Hemsworth as the only original cast member from the 2012 blockbuster to still be around who had solo films out during that phase of the MCU (both Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo are also still present in the current MCU but neither have had standalone movies before or after “The Avengers” was released).
Expectations were definitely high as Waititi, Hemsworth and company returned for a fourth film in the “Thor” franchise but sadly, “Thor: Love and Thunder” fails to deliver with the same kind of punch or punchline as previous film. Despite an all-star cast coming back along with some notable newcomers including Christian Bale, the latest sequel starring Thor feels more like a superhero parody than a movie that will anchor the next phase of Marvel films.
With that said, let’s get to our full review for “Thor: Love and Thunder”…
In the aftermath of “Avengers: Endgame,” Thor left Earth with the Guardians of the Galaxy and that’s essentially where we find him when this movie picks up except he’s grown far more despondent as a God amongst men, jumping in to save the day when things get a little bit too dicey for his new friends. After losing his father and his brother — this film doesn’t acknowledge there’s another Loki somewhere in the multiverse — Thor is starting to feel kind of lonely despite being surrounded by the Guardians and his old pal Korg, who came along for the ride as well.
That’s when he gets a distress call from his old friend Sif, who has been attacked by a creature called Gorr, who has vowed to kill all gods after his own family was ravaged on a desolate planet when the deity he prayed to never answered until it was already too late and then the god mocked him for his misery.
Wielding the powerful Necrosword, Gorr can actually slay the gods and he’s already killed several when Thor gets the call from Sif. To make matters even weirder, when Thor returns to Earth to meet up with his friends at New Asgard he discovers that his ex-girlfriend, Dr. Jane Foster, has reforged Mjolnir and taken up the mantle as The Mighty Thor, which gives him a whole lot more questions than answers.
ACTING, DIRECTING AND SCRIPT
In many ways, the script and story are really the biggest issues with “Thor: Love and Thunder” and by extension that gives the actors less to work with during the performances.
It’s great to see Natalie Portman back as Dr. Jane Foster — along with Loki, she was arguably the best part of those early “Thor” movies — but her story still feels somewhat disjointed and rushed. Tessa Thompson is fantastic as King Valkyrie but again she’s just not given enough room to work, which is a shame after she made such an impact in “Thor: Ragnarok” as well as “Avengers: Endgame.”
As for Hemsworth, he’s somehow managed to add even more muscle onto his frame because this version of Thor is apparently going to audition to become “The Mountain” on “Game of Thrones” when the movie is finished. Physicality aside, Hemsworth spends far more time in this film attempting to be funny that it’s actually exhausting by the time the film is finished.
Thankfully, Christian Bale does the heavy lifting when it comes to performances because his Gorr The God Butcher is definitely one of the most compelling villains in recent MCU history. He carries a real sadness behind his eyes thanks to the tragedies he’s endured but Bale also expresses rage and anger in a seething matter than makes him look like a perfect foil to the gods.
This film could have used a lot more Gorr and a lot less Thor as it turns out because the script is just mired it bad quips, slap-stick jokes and just barely any real storytelling that’s actually worth following. The plot is razor thin yet somehow stretched out including a middle section of the movie that just feels out of place in a sad attempt to duplicate the fun had with Jeff Goldblum in the previous “Thor” movie.
This time that role falls to Russell Crowe, who is an incredible actor, but it’s clear with this film that maybe comedy just isn’t his thing.
The direction from Waititi isn’t anything unexpected but it feels like he really leaned into the over the top, cartoon like effects from the last Thor movie and then injected all of that with an unhealthy dose of steroids. This movie feels like one giant Skittles bag exploded and Waititi really, really wants everybody to taste all the flavors.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE MOVIE?
The comedy in this film is just overwhelming.
With “Thor: Ragnarok,” it was a perfect blend of humor mixed with action, adventure and still plenty of story to propel the plot forward with every scene. This time around, Waititi abandoned the good story and just really put all of his emphasis on making the audience laugh — and there are definitely some hilarious moments — but this movie feels more like a “Scary Movie” parody of a superhero film than an actual entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Even the dour moments when Christian Bale or Natalie Portman are given time to work feels completely overshadowed by the constant injection of jokes.
As someone who loved “Thor: Ragnarok,” this film somehow only took the funny moments from that movie and then left everything else on the cutting room floor.
“Thor: Love and Thunder” is just disappointing, especially when compared to the previous “Thor” film, which stands as one of the best MCU movies of all time. Waititi’s ability to blend humor with a really heartfelt or heartbreaking story — see “JoJo Rabbit” as a perfect example — is perhaps his best talent but somehow he just decided to just turn this movie into a full blown superhero comedy, which in the end doesn’t work.
“Thor: Love and Thunder” gets a 2 out of 5 on the Skolnick Scale.