Review by Camden Ferrell
With Thor: Love and Thunder, everyone’s favorite God of Thunder becomes the first character in the MCU to have a fourth solo outing. Taika Waititi returns to the director’s chair and also co-writes the script with Jennifer Kaytin. Trying to recapture the magic of Thor: Ragnarok, this newest adventure achieves mostly similar results while introducing an intimidating and sinister villain from the always reliable Christian Bale.
After the events of Avengers: Endgame, Thor is in a new chapter of his life, working alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy. However, he must soon enlist the help of friends and allies to take down Gorr the God Butcher, who is on a ruthless quest to make all gods extinct. This is an exciting story that adapts a popular storyline from Marvel comics and brings a fan favorite villain to the big screen for the very first time.
From the start, it’s abundantly clear that Waititi is trying to recreate the same style and humor of Thor: Raganarok. When it works it works, but when it doesn’t it truly doesn’t. This can prove that excess is both a blessing and a curse. There are some truly hilarious moments throughout the movie, but the constant humor can sometimes subvert the earnestness and urgency that its plot warrants.
Chris Hemsworth returns as Thor, and he fits in just as well as he ever had. It seems that in the last few Thor appearances, he has really come into his own as the God of Thunder, and it’s great to see him return to the role. Tessa Thompson and Taika Waititi also return to their characters of Valkyrie and Korg very well. The actors that everyone is excited about are Natalie Portman making her anticipated return as Jane Foster and Christian Bale as the film’s villain. It’s exciting to see Portman return and wield Mjolnir, but her and the rest of the cast are overshadowed by Bale’s haunting and tortured performance as Gorr. He is easily the highlight of this movie, and he may be one of the finest villains we have seen from Marvel thus far.
One aspect of the movie that definitely fell flat for me was its visual effects. There are many moments where the CGI feels badly executed and cheaply made, and it brings you out of the experience multiple times. There are definitely some good things happening with the effects especially in certain sequences that I won’t spoil here, but the movie also features some of the most surprisingly weak effects we’ve ever seen in the MCU.
The pacing of the movie also doesn’t feel particularly consistent throughout. Fortunately, the movie is a nice two hours, so it definitely doesn’t feel bloated or overstay its welcome. It also feels very self-contained while still building upon the multiple films of lore and backstory. Even though it features long-term character growth, the movie does a good job of making sure new viewers will still have a decent understanding of its characters.
Despite its flaws, I still thoroughly had a great time watching this movie. It’s messy, excessive, and it has some glaring issues, but it’s a fun summer adventure movie. I’m particularly fond of the film’s final half which I think has some great set pieces, stakes, and action. It may be in the middle of Marvel’s catalogue in terms of quality, but it will still excite fans this July.
Thor: Love and Thunder is unhinged for better or worse, and it continues the mostly successful course correct for Thor in the MCU. It probably won’t win over any new fans, but those who enjoyed Thor: Ragnarok will most likely find something to like in Waititi’s playful and over-the-top style.
Thor: Love and Thunder is in theaters July 8.