Thor: Love and Thunder, 2022.
Directed by Taika Waititi.
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Jaimie Alexander, Taika Waititi, Russell Crowe, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, and Sean Gunn.
Thor takes some undue time off to find himself, but gets drawn back to the fray when a powerful adversary dead set on killing off gods, arrive at his doorstep.
If someone told me a year back that Taika Waititi would drop the ball during his next stab at the Thor franchise, I would have laughed it off and chalked up that notion to a temporary lapse in sanity of that individual concerned. Now that I’ve watched Thor: Love and Thunder, however, my opinion has been swayed somewhat and certainly not for the better.
This latest Thor misadventure kicks off with an emotionally heavy sequence, that sees a dust smothered Gorr (Christian Bale) and his daughter, traversing a barren, sun-battered desert in search of sustenance. The youngling sadly perishes shortly after, drawing her last in his father’s arms, unable to survive the harsh elements. Burying his child with a heavy heart Gorr, then ventures deep into the dustbowl heeding the call of a mysterious disembodied voice which leads him to a lush oasis. There, we see the character’s destiny swiftly metamorphose into something darker as he becomes Gorr the God Butcher.
Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth), meanwhile has embarked on a personal quest of self-discovery, occasionally engaging in feats of badassery with the Guardians of the Galaxy. The gruff Asgardian is soon whisked away from his self-confined seclusion when Gorr starts wreaking havoc across the multiverse. Complicating things further is the return of his old flame Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) armed with a recently reassembled Mjolnir and a pair of enormous screaming goats.
First and foremost, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Anyone who’s seen Thor: Love and Thunder will unanimously agree that Christian Bale is one of its best aspects. The brief introduction to Bale’s character at the very beginning speaks volumes about the guy’s inherent talent as a performer. The chap gives it his all, acting his heart out and we, as the audience, totally understand what drives and motivates Gorr to commit the terrible deeds he does.
But it isn’t all dour faced doom-and-gloom that Bale gives us, for the most part he alternates between hilariously over-the-top and downright frightening, which makes for a thoroughly engaging and mercurial villain. The bad news, though, is that Bale’s screentime in the film is limited to only a handful of scenes, making Thor: Love and Thunder the latest venture to join the pantheon of ‘Great MCU Missed Opportunities’.
Chris Hemsworth once again proves that he was born to play the God of Thunder, effortlessly slipping back into the boots of our much beloved comic book superhero. But the issue here is that, he’s still the same goofy Thor we met in Thor: Ragnarök. There’s absolutely no difference at all. Which makes zero sense considering what he underwent as a character during the cataclysmic events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Waititi seems to have conveniently chucked that portion of the character arc out of the window, that’s for sure.
From the get go Natalie Portman showing up in the MCU as Thor’s girlfriend was something I never quite bought into. So, when it was announced that Portman would show up as Mighty Thor in Thor: Love and Thunder, I knew it was Feige & co. just trying to wrap things up with that particular character. Portman does a serviceable job in her role but the way in which the character is written and her cringeworthy dialogue, is just annoying to say the least. And let’s not get started with Russell Crowe tapping into his inner Jared Leto as cosplay Zeus. Yeesh.
Now let’s address the elephant in the room and the root of all problems plaguing this movie – its story. Back when Thor: Ragnarök was being made, Waititi was simply the guy helming the effort. Of course, the eccentric auteur clearly had a lot of say from a creative stand point, as to what he wanted his film to be, but the fact of the matter is the script wasn’t his baby. Thor: Love and Thunder on the other hand is a completely different beast altogether.
With Waititi both directing and conceiving story, it appears Kevin Feige gave the plucky New Zealander carte blanche to do as he please, and the result unfortunately is less than stellar. Rife with plot contrivances and a blatant disregard for everything Thor related – MCU and otherwise- the script comes off as a bland, uninspired facsimile of Thor: Ragnarök dialed up to eleven and in the worst ways possible. There’s no excuse for the subpar visual effects either. A big budget tentpole movie like this, with a budget north of $200 million can certainly afford to (pun intended) have their CGI be of high caliber, but nope.
As a huge fan of Thor: Ragnarök, this film left me bitterly disappointed and to be honest, quite heartbroken since I had such high hopes for it. In the end Thor: Love and Thunder is nothing more than a self-indulgent vanity project, that neither generates decent laughs nor delivers on action spectacle. Shoddy CGI and contrived plot aside, this is undoubtedly the worst Taika Waititi film to date, but thankfully the Thor franchise has seen worse.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Hasitha Fernando is a part-time medical practitioner and full-time cinephile. Follow him on Twitter via @DoctorCinephile for regular updates on the world of entertainment.