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‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ (review)

Thor is having a midlife crisis.

The events of Ragnarok and Endgame have made him question his purpose, so the “God of Thunder” (Chris Hemsworth) has decided to look for the answer.

This introspective quest with the Guardians of the Galaxy gets cut short with the appearance of Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who believes Thor’s kind serves no purpose at all and must be destroyed.

What follows is a flamboyant but touching 80s metal romp through space with the help of a few old friends in new roles.

Joining him in battle are King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (portrayed once again by writer/director Taika Waititi), and his ex-girlfriend Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who is now curiously wielding Mjolnir like a natural and claiming the Mighty Thor title.

A strong ensemble is the backbone of an epic comedy and the chemistry between this cast is flawless.

Thompson’s coolly collected Valkyrie is a solid partner for Portman’s fledgling superhero excitement. Their friendship deserved more screentime given how in sync they were. Now that Korg is a full team member, his good-natured straight man serves as the classic non-Avenger best friend that Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, and a host of other supers have used to humanize themselves when hashing out internal dilemmas.

There are big joyful swings that almost always connect and tender moments that remind you that Thor has grown significantly as a leader and friend throughout his four standalone films. Hemsworth’s comedic timing and delivery are a delight to watch after so many joyless early outings. When he and Jane have their first one-on-one he carries all the false bravado of anyone seeing their ex for the first time in years, multiplied by the (crisis of) confidence of a god.

Jane, on the other hand, is glowing and thriving thanks to Mjolnir and better writing. Waititi’s well-executed version of Jane Foster is worthy of both Portman and the title Mighty Thor. It’s amazing how loosening up just a bit can unlock new depths in rom-com chemistry.

At just over two hours, the pacing is remarkably good for a Marvel movie but this also means you can feel there was more to tell.

Story elements like Thor’s visit to Omnipotent City to request help from his fellow gods could have used more fleshing out. Christian Bale is delightfully creepy during his time as Gorr but I needed more time with the character to appreciate his downturn. Waititi has an endless imagination and capacity for world-building, but only a certain amount of time that audiences will stay in their seats. Given the wealth onscreen there are surely gems on the cutting room floor.

There has always been a distance, a joke that Thor was unrelatable because he was a god.

Waititi’s success with Ragnarok and Love and Thunder comes from making Thor question whether the life he was born into is the life for him – a deeply human prospect.

Is anyone, even a god, worthy of blind adoration? And what would it mean to try and live up to that much love?

In between the action-packed hilarity that has the new Thor’s running neck and neck with Guardians of the Galaxy for funniest in the MCU, Love and Thunder might also be closing in on the top spot for “emotional growth for a god”.

*  *  *  *  *
Produced by Kevin Feige, Brad Winderbaum
Written by Taika Waititi and Taika Waititi & Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
Based on Thor by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby
Directed by Taika Waititi 
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson,
Taika Waititi,
Jaimie Alexander, Russell Crowe, Chris Pratt, Pom Klementieff,
Dave Bautista,
Karen Gillan, Sean Gunn, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper,

 

 

 

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