They often say that lightning never strikes twice, something you find with most movie franchises. Marvel’s Thor is a perfect example of the lightning theory. The first film, directed by Kenneth Branagh, was a decent mythical adventure, whereas the sequel, Thor: The Dark World, was a mess and regarded by many as the worst Marvel movie. A little retuning and a different approach brought us Thor: Ragnarok, a rollicking blast of a film followed by many as one of the best Marvel movies. It comes with a heavy heart that the lightning has not struck twice, as Thor: Love and Thunder, while entertaining, is not a patch on its predecessor.
Travelling across a desert with his dying daughter in search of the god he has given his life to, Gorr finds that his precious god refuses to save his daughter and that his journey was futile. Chosen by the sword, Gorr becomes the God Butcher, who is determined to destroy all gods. It’s up to Thor to bring together a new team to dispose of him. Along with Korg and Valkyrie, the group are joined by Thor’s former girlfriend, Jane Foster, who is dying of cancer but finding the strength through Thor’s broken hammer to become The Mighty Thor.
Taika Waititi returns to directing and co-writing duties. It sounds terrible to say, as I have a great deal of respect for his past work, especially the last Thor movie, but maybe someone else should have taken on duties this time, as it comes across that they are desperate to recapture the past triumph but forgot why it worked the last time. Ragnarok was so original compared to anything else that Marvel had produced up to then that it was refreshing. This time, however, it feels tired, with elements of “been there, done that”.
That’s not saying it’s a total disaster. It’s not. There is plenty to admire and enjoy. In some parts, it is laugh-out-loud funny. Yet the plot is a mess. There are so many contrivances and plot holes that you genuinely lose patience with. The first time we see Thor, it’s a flashback with his friend, the rock monster Korg, recounting his adventures with The Guardians of the Galaxy, destroying property and making a mess of battles while the Guardians are losing patience with the god of Thunder.
We then learn about Jane Foster as she battles stage 4 cancer, which leads her to the New Agard, a massive tourist attraction looking like a cross between Disneyland and Cornwall. There she comes across the remnants of Thor’s mighty hammer, which join together in front of her and lo, The Mighty Thor is born.
With the gang complete, they head off to a land of Gods to warn them and build an army, only to be faced with the mighty ego of Zeus, refusing to help and embarrassing Thor at the same time. The film heads towards the inevitable finale with a face-off between Thor and Gorr the God Butcher.
The one thing that Ragnarok wasn’t was predictable. This one is, and while some gags work, others seem incredibly dated. For example, Thor wins two goats who constantly scream, like the screaming creatures from the YouTube videos from 10 years ago! The strained relationship between Thor and Jane looks like something from an 80s rom-com; worst of all, the effects are below standard for a film like this.
Thankfully the performances have enough energy to see it all through. Chris Hemsworth has become a well-tuned comedy actor, and his delivery is always on point. It’s a shame that they have decided to turn Thor from a beloved God to a bumbling baffoon, something the fans are very cross about. Natalie Portman returns as Jane Foster and does well at handling the physical sequences; although Jane was never the most exciting of the female characters, she still lacks any real depth. Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie once again almost steals the film from everyone, while Waititi’s Korg gets some of the best lines.
Joining the team this time is former Batman Christian Bale as Gorr, who does well with the underwritten character. In contrast, Russell Crowe’s Zeus is a disaster, with the actor channelling Jared Leto’s performance from House of Gucci.
Thor: Love and Thunder is not a total disaster and you will find yourself laughing at the more bizarre or throwaway moments, and there are hints of the 1980s Flash Gordon in its campness and overall design. As I noted a few months back, it seems that the Marvel Cinematic Universe are slowly becoming tiresome. The cracks are definitely starting to show.
3 out of 5
Director: Taika Waititi
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Tessa Thompson, Taiki Waititi, Russell Crowe, Jaimie Alexander, Chris Pratt, Dave Baustisa, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementiff, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper.
Written by: Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, (also story) Taika Waititi, (based on the characters created) Stan Lee and Jason Aaron
Running Time: 119 mins
Release date: 7th July 2022