Coming off the success of Thor: Ragnarok, Taika Waititi’s second entry into the MCU fails in its attempt to mimic the formula that made Thor: Ragnarok work. Thor: Love and Thunder is at its best when it shows our superhero characters explore the most human emotion, love.
After so much loss and constant battles, Thor strives to go on a quest for inner peace. Seeking the extinction of the gods, Gorr the God Butcher quickly disrupts his newfound retirement and Thor must set out on a cosmic adventure to uncover the mystery behind the God Butcher and what he is fighting for.
Taika Waititi has often found a neat enough balance of comedy vs emotion, but usually one of those elements tends to drown out the other one. That issue tends to be much more apparent with Thor: Love and Thunder, Waititi attempts to make the audience laugh for the entirety of the short MCU runtime. The thematic elements of the film are only existent in the final act with barely any material that alludes to it before we get there. It makes these themes less impactful as it feels shoehorned in and not organic to the characters despite Waititi and Jennifer Kaytin Robinson script having some neat ideas. Now, I don’t need or even expect themes to be explored in a film to claim it is of quality – but the problem is that the majority of the humour doesn’t even land. The Guardians of the Galaxy are present in the film (as seen in the trailer) and it immediately feels dull. Yes, I know that James Gunn had a say in the Guardians of the Galaxy lines but it just doesn’t fit in the setting and situation that Waititi has done. Many of the comedic gags far overstay their welcome as they continue throughout the entire film and it can become burdensome to see the same humour being used.
If the MCU ever needed a human element, it absolutely was love and romance which was an element that has been long neglected in this cinematic universe. Thor: Love and Thunder attempts to explore these themes and as stated before, there are some neat ideas at play here – however, it all feels really surface level. There is plenty of room to expand upon these ideas and create something that is really impactful – after all, superheroes dealing with human emotions has been some of the most compelling comic-book work. Overall, it all just feels like it scratches the surface and does not explore anything beyond what we have seen before. With a runtime of 1 hour and 59 minutes, it is not surprising that there are one too many narrative pieces that don’t quite work. The abilities of Gorr the God Butcher are barely explained and Jane Foster’s The Mighty Thor could have used a bit more fleshing out considering the lengthy absence. At its core, the film achieves in having some entertainment value and providing a fun blockbuster popcorn flick.
Newcomer, Chrstian Bale provides a really compelling performance as Gorr the God Butcher, I only wished the screenplay served him a little more. Chris Hemsworth feels too comfortable as Thor and the script does challenge him to stretch his acting versatility in this role now. Natalie Portman felt a little off in her return as Jane Foster as she becomes The Mighty Thor but that mostly stemmed from the awkward chemistry with Hemsworth – Portman pulls off some solid moments in her dramatic acting.
Is amazing how the CGI in Marvel films lately are regressing compared to the films over the first 10 years. The visual effects come off rather cheap and largely unfinished which makes one wonder if time constraints are starting to hurt the visual quality for the future film of this franchise. It’s not all bad however as this film excels in its visual cinematography, makeup and lighting; with creative techniques being utilised throughout the shadow realm with darkness and bleak greyness covering the scenes. Cinematographer Barry Idoine frames certain scenes beautifully such as Thor meditating during a sun set and his choice of colours throughout the different planets and realms we travel through are all eye popping. The makeup on Christian Bale’s Gorr the God Butcher is outstanding as throughout the film we slowly start to see his descent into darkness throughout stages as each time we see the character there is a new visual element being added ranging from yellow eyes, black goo oozing from his mouth and scars showing up over his body.
Michael Giacchino & Nami Melumad compose the score for Thor: Love and Thunder which is a major step backwards from Thor: Ragnarok. The overall score is highly forgettable and it lacks that meaningful impact comic book films should have. The lack of Scandinavian musical pieces or the Thor theme in general is a massive disappointment for this film. The soundtrack choices are sure to get your blood pumping with “Sweet Child of Mine” & “Welcome to the Jungle” blasting through the cinemas sound system, however the over reliance of classic rock hurts this film and it is best if soundtrack in MCU films are left to James Gunn.
On an entertainment level, it is a perfectly fine film. Just don’t expect Thor: Love and Thunder to challenge its characters or hold any thematic weight, not in the way that Thor: Ragnarok did at least.