Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) – Reel Review

Director: Taika Waititi | 1h 59mins | Action, Adventure, Comedy

After parting ways with the Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor attempts to find out who he is now, but the God Butcher Gorr starts to systematically kill Gods from across the universe. Pulling in old friends Valkyrie, Korg and his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster, he attempts to stop the elimination of all Gods.

With what can be described as a roaring success for his first mainstream big budget film in Thor: Ragnarok, Taika Waititi has created a World War 2 era tragi-comedy (with him as Hitler) and signed on for a Star Wars film, live action remake of Akira and now the newest MCU film – Thor: Love and Thunder. Much like the previous incarnation they’ve ditched the serious, regal tone for a relaxed and gloriously ridiculous approach to the story of Thor.

Chris Hemsworth of course returns as the titular character, with another outing for Waititi himself as the beloved Korg, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, an unexpected return for Natalie Portman as Jane Foster (and the Mighty Thor), with Christian Bale as the aforementioned God Butcher, Gorr.

The actual opening of the film is essentially the motivation for Gorr’s rampage – losing his daughter without a care from his God, to then be chosen to wield the Necrosword (potentially the only known weapon to truly kill a God). His vow becomes to kill all gods.

We cut to Thor fighting alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy, ‘saving’ planets through distress calls on their ships. After receiving one from an old Asgardian friend, he heads off to save her and start a journey of self-discovery (a recurring theme throughout), Chris Pratt’s Starlord leaving him with the idea that having loved but lost is better than feeling nothing at all. From there, we engage in usual Waititi shenanigans whilst interspersed with the darker tones of Gorr’s story.

It feels so closely connected to its predecessor with some familiar ground it touched upon, and subjectively a less funny film too means that Love and Thunder is dangerously close to being Ragnarok lite.

Everyone feels like their suffering from a degree of anxiety or self-doubt; Thor is clearly the conduit for us as an audience experiencing this the most but whether it’s from Jane struggling to find herself as a hero or Valkyrie halting future relationships by living in the bottom of a bottle, they’re all struggling to find their self-confidence – except Gorr. He is the only major character (except the other gods) that is assured in what he is doing, with motivations that feel real but an end goal coming from an extreme response.

There’s a bit of a reflection in Thanos here – a character that wants to solve an understandable issue, but takes the direction we can’t relate too. Where Thanos had many movies to grow and time for us to appreciate him, Gorr is given very little screen time leading to jumps in character development that seem necessary rather than organic.

Which leads to one of the biggest issues surrounding Thor: Love and Thunder: timing. Much of the film seems rushed, feeling like there were too many characters and arcs crammed into a singular film. Though we spend enough time with our lead to appreciate his story, many others are just hitting the main plot points so we know what’s actually going on. It isn’t just Gorr here, Jane is introduced to us by getting chemotherapy for stage 4 cancer – whilst this story doesn’t feel exploitative or purely to spur an emotional response, it acts little more than a device to get Jane firmly rooted in Thor’s narrative.

Whilst still in the MCU Love and Thunder feels more like a direct sequel to Ragnarok with little connection to the wider threats to the multiverse, which is almost a relief in that not every story has to consider every other film Marvel has made. That being said, it feels so closely connected to its predecessor with some familiar ground it touched upon, and subjectively a less funny film too means that Love and Thunder is dangerously close to being Ragnarok lite.

It is still an enjoyable and amusing film nonetheless, though the suspicion being a more polarizing film than a usual Marvel endeavor, as some may find the grievances too strong and the amped up silliness going too far. 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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