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THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER (2022) review

July 12, 2022


written by: Taika Waititi and Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
produced by: Kevin Feige and Brad Winderbaum
directed by: Taika Waititi
rated: Rated PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language, some suggestive material and partial nudity)
runtime: 119 min.
U.S. release date: July 8, 2022


When we last saw Thor it was during the conclusion(s) of “Avengers: Endgame”, when the God of Thunder joined the Guardians of the Galaxy for some space wayfaring after the death of Tony Stark and the retirement of Steve Rogers. Despite the Asgardian being one of the most powerful heroes in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), it became clear in that movie that Thor had an unspoken desire to be surrounded by comrades, especially after the surmounted losses he had experienced. Director Taika Waititi established this in his 2017 hit “Thor: Ragnarok” and he doubles down on that in the fourth entry of this iteration of Odinson called “Thor: Love and Thunder” (because “Thor 4” was too easy).

If you didn’t know any of that or if these names seem foreign to you, you may want to ask yourself why you’re watching this movie. After all, none of the recent Marvel Studios movies have been wholly accessible to a virgin viewer, except for maybe “Shang-Chi” and “The Eternals”, but even those two provoke some head scratching and require some light homework.

Companionship isn’t the only thing Waititi is re-emphasizing here. The comedy element that made “Ragnarok” a success is back and is turned up a notch in “Love and Thunder” and Waititi (who co-wrote the screenplay with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson) unfortunately relies heavily on the jokes here, which leaves very little room to deal with some heavy subject matter. They would apparently prefer to keep a supposedly hilarious Hemsworth butt shot than take more time to deal with the loss of a child or a terminal disease. While it’s been reported that the original cut of “Love and Thunder” was four hours long, it’s doubtful the screenplay delved into anything deeper. That’s a shame considering so many viewers can relate to the  themes of loss and grief that are presented, but the overall tone of the movie emphasizes silliness and action-packed fun.




The movie opens with dramatic heft as we’re introduced to Gorr (an excellent, skeletal Christian Bale, ), a lone alien on a barren, ravaged world desperate to keep his young daughter alive. A creature of blind faith, he pleads to his god, Rapu (Jonathan Brugh from Waititi’s “What We Do in the Shadows”), asking for deliverance from the drought and exhaustion they’ve experienced. When the devout disciple is brushed off by his deity, the sentient Necrosword detects his destitute pain and lures Gorr with the promise of revenge. With his daughter dead and reeling in the gut punch of being told there is no after life, Gorr kills his god and vows to go on a universal god-killing spree, becoming Gorr, the God Butcher.

This is a mostly solid opening scene that establishes the plight of the antagonist for the story. Bale, an actor who always gives 100%, shows a great amount of emotional range in a short amount of time. Unfortunately, Brugh as Rapu feels like he’s in a totally different movie altogether (like something out of Monty Python) – due to the material given him – portraying an aloof god who could care less about his worshipers. Sadly, it’s not the only time we’ll see such cavalier gods in “Love and Thunder”.



When we catch up to Thor (Chris Hemsworth) he is peacefully meditating under a tree on the side of a cliff, located on an unknown planet. He is interrupted by a battle below in which Thor’s gladiator pal, Korg (voiced by Waititi) and the Guardians of the Galaxy – including Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Drax (Dave Bautista), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Groot (Vin Diesel), and Kraglin (Sean Gunn) – are coming to the aid of the indigenous beings whose temple is being attacked by owl-like alien invaders. With his weapon, Stormbreaker, at his side, a rejuvenated Thor swoops down and quickly takes out of the invaders with destructive results (as long as Guns n’ Roses is cranked to the max, who cares right?), relying on his impressive power rather than employing a tactical plan that would include incorporating his “fellow team members”. It’s no surprise then Star-Lord and his crew part ways with Thor and Korg. Maybe Thor is just as aloof and dismissive as Gorr’s god, but such comparison is not on the adrenalized agenda of this movie.

Before Thor parts ways with the Guardians, he notices a handful of distress calls from around different parts of the galaxies, all confirming that gods are being killed. One particular destination attracts Thor’s attention and he and Korg travel to a planet with a snowy landscape (with the help of two flying screaming goats, Teethgnasher and Toothgrinder, he was gifted by the indigenous beings) where they find the corpse of a giant god (Falligar the Behemoth, from the comics) and a wounded Asgardian warrior Sif (Jaimie Alexander), a longtime friend of Thor’s, who tells him that Gorr’s targeting New Asgard next.

Meanwhile back on Earth, we catch up with Thor’s old flame Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who hasn’t been around since the underrated first sequel, “Thor: The Dark World”. The astrophysicist has gone on to become a hit sensation in her community thanks to her best-selling book on wormholes called The Foster Theory, but lately all her focus has been finding a way out of her Stage IV cancer diagnosis. In one scene, she is coincidentally getting chemo next to another patient who is reading her book, which lights Jane up and finds her excitedly explaining how time folds, ala “Interstellar” and “Event Horizon”. It’s a humorous moment, which adds some levity to the dire state her terminal illness has her in. Despite the support of her colleagues, Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings, last seen in “WandaVision”) and Dr. Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård via FaceTime), there seems to be no solution in sight…that is, until a certain enchanted hammer calls out to her.



By the time they arrive at New Asgard (formerly Tønsberg, Norway), where the surviving Asgardians reside after the cataclysmic events of “Ragnarok”, and reunite with King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Thor and Korg find the tourist destination under siege by Gorr’s shadow creatures. Immediately, they go into battle while Gorr watches nearby and in the melee Thor is double-surprised to find that his former weapon, Mjolnir, is now in the possession of Jane Foster, who has been transformed into The Mighty Thor. It’s an awkward moment that’s played well by Hemsworth and Portman, and while we eventually find out how she and the once-thought-destroyed Mjolnir bonded, “Love and Thunder” never gives us any inclination why she’s called Thor. Isn’t Thor Thor? Isn’t that his name? Is Thor a title then…like Black Panther or Green Lantern? Who knows.

Again, Waititi and company have no time for such head scratchers and next thing we know Thor is surrounded by three warriors (one of them is his ex – more awkwardness) as they pursue the villain, just like in the third act of “Ragnarok”. It worked for that movie, but here it feels a bit clunky. The elephant in the room (or on the space chariot) is this unexpected reunion between Thor and Jane – they rarely call her The Mighty Thor here and that’s good since that would cause more confusion –  as they try to save the Asgardian children Gorr kidnapped, including Heimdall’s son, Axl (Kieron L. Dyer) – guess what lead singer he’s named after?

The quartet gets the idea that before they encounter Gorr they should enlist the assistance of other gods since their lives are at stake too. Upon arriving at Omnipotent City, a golden amphitheater home to an array of gods, Thor is turned down by a ridiculously pompous Zeus (Russell Crowe, chewing scenery with a bizarre accent), leaving our heroes to fend for themselves as they do their best to prevent Gorr from meeting the cosmic entity known as Eternity, which will supposedly grant him any wish he desires…which you would think would be to bring his daughter back, but supposedly he’s so poisoned by the Necrosword, that he’s hoping Eternity will help him wipe out all the other gods he hasn’t gotten to. Does that make him any better than the self-centered and ignorance he (and we the viewers) have come across in “Love and Thunder”?



As mentioned, there are some very intriguing ideas and emotional subjects mentioned in “Thor: Love and Thunder”, but none are fully realized or developed into anything substantial. This idea of a devout follower of a god falling hard after becoming understandably disappointed in the deity he worshipped all his life is a fascinating storyline to dig into. Gorr is probably the most relatable MCU villain since Killmonger in “The Black Panther”, but there’s just not enough time spent exploring his character. There aren’t even enough scenes of him killing off gods. Also compelling is Jane Foster’s terminal illness and how each time she transforms into The Mighty Thor, it takes a toll on her when she reverts back to her frail body. Foster has to weigh out the hard decision of whether or not to don the hammer and go into battle, which could result in her death.

It’s not like we would’ve been complaining about another thirty minutes that could potentially explore these subjects in greater detail. Audiences are used to verbose tales told by Marvel Studios, but at 119 minutes, “Love and Thunder” is oddly one of the shortest.

One way Waititi tries to shoe-horn chunks of story into the movie is by having Korg (himself) narrate certain aspects of the movie, as a way to fill-in missing story elements and offer a chance for viewers who aren’t caught up on what’s transpired before. Waititi as Korg has a fun, easy-going demeanor, this approach is distracting in that this storytelling decision sticks out and pulls us away from the dramatic heft of the movie. There’s a lengthy flashback montage which details just how Jane and Thor’s relationship gradually fizzled, but it warrants so many other questions (such as just when did all of this occur – sometime between “The Dark World” and “Ragnorok”?). Any other movie would’ve taken its time with that relationship, but this one wants to play Cliff’s Notes with the two central characters and paint the villain with broad strokes (despite Bale leaning in with wonderful nuance).



That’s what happens when you take two length stories from the comics, both by writer Jason Aaron, and grossly abbreviate them into one movie. Both the God-Butcher story and the tale of the mysterious female Thor could’ve stretched over two movies for obvious reasons, but apparently no one thought of that. Instead, “Love and Thunder” suffers from the same problems that plagued “X-Men: The Last Stand” from 2006, which also took two lengthy, compelling stories from the comics and tried to squeeze it all in to a bloated story. One would think that the writers (and producer Kevin Feige) would want to save material for the next entry, but they’d rather just tease us with the obligatory end credit scenes.

The only thing that “Love and Thunder” truly leans into and stretches out until its way too thin is the movie’s humor. Waititi is clearly focused on making another comedy, working to revive the “Ragnarok” mood with evident playfulness from the cast, especially Hemsworth, who seems to love continuously playing Thor as an insecure god that hides behind a perfect physique of hypermasculinity, all to keep up appearances. The movie does indeed earn laughs, but many of them are replayed over and over. The only comedic element that elicited multiple chuckles from me was the whole jealousy for and of sentient weapons. It’s a fun concept that is comical enough without veering into goofiness. Still, the heaviness of the story is sacrificed for jokes and silliness and that’s too bad.

The tone of the Thor books from Marvel Comics never intended for the Norse-based character to be overtly humorous. Although Thor comics were never known for it, eventually there would be comedy that organically made its way into certain issues, relying mostly on how others responded to the powerful God of Thunder with his Elizabethan speech and occasional arrogance. In the MCU, this relied moreso on a “stranger in a strange land” vibe, which was leaned on in the first Thor movie back in 2011, especially how Portman’s Jane and her science colleagues first responded to this blonde god. The jokes towards Thor came from Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark in “The Avengers” (the high mark was his “Point Break” crack) is a good example of this. than the jokey insecure character Waititi delivered in “Thor: Ragnarok”, an entertaining blockbuster hit from 2017.

As expected, there are some great, vibrant visuals in “Thor: Love and Thunder”, specifically during the climactic battle in the black-and-white Shadow Realm. Many will see the sequel as continuing what “Ragnarok” started, but that’s just Waititi playing it safe, avoiding risks and squandering story elements that carried potent weight. It won’t matter to many, but I won’t be alone in noticing some missed opportunities here.







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