Film and TV

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
Thor: Love And Thunder

Title: Thor: Love and Thunder

Describe This Movie Using One Thor: Ragnarok Quote:
KORG: It sounds like you had a pretty special and intimate relationship with this hammer, and that losing it was almost comparable to losing a loved one.
Brief Plot Synopsis: God of thunder (and rock and roll) loves, laughs, and loses.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 3 Alphonses out of 5.
Tagline: "Not every god has a plan."

Better Tagline: "Most don't, now that you mention it."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Following the Infinity Saga, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has shaped up and shipped out with Korg (Taika Waititi) and the Guardians of the Galaxy, who mostly stand by while the Odinson does his thing. A distress call from his old friend Sif alerts Thor to the presence of Gorr (Christian Bale), who has vowed to kill all gods. Gorr sets his sights on New Asgard, but his arrival turns out to be less surprising than that of a new Thor, namely Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).
"Critical" Analysis: If Doctor Stranger and the Multiverse of Madness was the MCU's scariest movie, Thor: Love and Thunder might be the sappiest.

That might come across as a bad thing, and in another movie — where the earnestness isn't balanced off quite as deftly with the comedy — it might be. Here, the themes of love and devotion help underpin this fourth (fourth?) standalone Thor movie without getting too mired in treacle.

These are appropriately personified by Thor, our hero; whose love for Jane inspires him, and Gorr, the villain; whose devotion to his lost daughter kicks off his quest for vengeance. It's also used to more humorous effect in the lover's quarrel that unexpectedly arises between Thor and his weapons, Mjolnir and Stormbreaker, after the former reconstitutes itself and latches on to Jane.

But fear not, because Thor's fourth (fourth?) flick still channels director Taika Waititi's impertinent sensibilities. From the butt rock reimagining of the Marvel theme to the Thundarr the Barbarian fonts to a horny Zeus (Russell Crowe, offering a more historically faithful depiction than Disney's previous effort), Love and Thunder still runs with the retro palette and overt fantasy elements that made Ragnarok so successful.

It's a nice counter to the Jane subplot, namely how she's using Mjolnir to stave off serious illness. Waititi fills in a good chunk of their past relationship to fill in the blanks left by the first two Thor movies and Agent Coulson's perfunctory "we moved Jane Foster" in Avengers. Shades of Peter Quill's mom in GotG, it's heavy stuff, but Portman and Hemsworth sell it capably enough.

What's missing is the same thing we didn't get in Multiverse of Madness: namely, any freaking hint as to where all this is going. Love and Thunder is the sixth (sixth!) movie in Phase Four of the MCU and we still don't know what the endgame (no pun intended) is. Hints at a future big bad have been dropped throughout the movies and TV shows (Kang in Loki, the Celestials in Eternals — one of their helmets shows up in L&T, come to think of it — hell, Dormammu is still floating around out there), and they're even teasing the Young Avengers, but Love and Thunder does nothing to advance any potential narrative.
click to enlarge
They got the band back together.
And if you're not worried about such things, you'll be fine. Disney's could get by (and arguably has) doing nothing other than coasting on residual fan goodwill. It's therefore a little surprising they continue to use directors like Chloe Zhao, Sam Raimi, and Waititi when they could just as easily rely on more malleable filmmakers.

As for this movie, it's nice to see Thor, Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie (sorry, "King Valkyrie"), and Korg reunited. Hemsworth has great chemistry with this crew, and is so iconic in the role it's impossible to imagine anyone else. And while Captain America still lays claim to "America's Ass," Thor makes a definite case for his universal equivalent here.

Bale offers the most layered performance, as befits MCU villains. Gorr is a character we can easily sympathize with, though if having your prayers unanswered led people that easily to vengeance against the gods, they all would have been eradicated eons ago.

The decision to bring back Jane is mildly curious, given the way her character was shelved after The Dark World. Her story is simultaneously somewhat manipulative and a reminder of the perils of being a woman in the MCU, but Portman gets a lot to do, and is having a good time. And while we may not have a destination in sight, the ride is still pretty fun.

For now.

Is There A Post-Credits Scene? There are, as usual, a mid-credit and post-credit stinger. The first will be enjoyed by fans of Ted Lasso, the second is a nice capper to events in the movie, Neither, as mentioned, enhance the bigger picture in the slightest. Do with that what you will.

Thor: Love and Thunder is in theaters today.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar