New Release Review [Cinema] – THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER


Thor: Love and Thunder review
Thor attempts to rescue children abducted by a villain with the power to
destroy Gods.

Directed by: Taika Waititi

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale,
Tessa Thompson, Taika Waititi, Russell Crowe, Chris Pratt

Thor: Love and Thunder poster


Watching a new instalment of the never-ending Marvel Cinematic Universe
can often feel like beginning to read ‘War and Peace’ on page 473. With
15 years and 30+ films, the franchise boasts a roster of characters
bigger than the population of many small towns. Names and references are
dropped to movies released three years ago, and with theses things
coming out every three months, unless you’re a die-hard fan it can feel
like you haven’t done your homework. The other main issue with MCU
movies is that they always seem more focussed on setting up future
storylines than concentrating on the current movie.

Thankfully Taika Waititi‘s
Thor: Love and Thunder is one of the few MCU movies that
avoids both these problems. It opens with a helpful recap of its hero’s
recent adventures (why can’t they all do this?), and it keeps its plot
to a bare minimum. Waititi’s film never feels like it’s simply laying
the groundwork for a movie to come three years from now, and is as close
to a standalone movie as this TV-like franchise has produced.


Thor: Love and Thunder review

The plot is refreshingly simple. A prologue sees an alien named Gorr
(Christian Bale) grow angry with his God when his daughter dies.
Discovering a sword that possesses the power to slay Gods, Gorr travels
the universe putting the weapon to its intended use. Determined to make
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) his next victim, Gorr kidnaps the children
of Asgard (who all speak with English accents despite being raised in a
Scandinavian village), knowing the God of Thunder will attempt to rescue
them.

Meanwhile, Thor’s old flame Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is
dying of cancer. Taking possession of Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, Jane
transforms into a Thor-alike. Along with Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Thor’s rock-like buddy Korg (Waititi), Thor and Jane set off to
rescue the children of Asgard and end the God-slayer’s reign of
terror.


Thor: Love and Thunder review

See? Nice and simple. We know exactly what our heroes’ goals are and
don’t spend two plus hours being subjected to constant exposition. This
minimal plot allows Waititi to focus on his characters in what is
essentially a hangout movie. Hemsworth and Portman have a winning
chemistry as ex-lovers Thor and Jane, both hilariously embodying the
awkwardness between them. Hemsworth has become such a skilled comic
actor that he manages to pull off several comic moments that involve him
speaking with an inanimate hammer. He plays this mid-life Thor as a mix
of the unearned bravado of Kurt Russell in
Big Trouble in Little China and the bumbling buffoonery of
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Portman is finally given something
to do in this franchise, and we’re gifted with her most enjoyable
performance in quite some time. Bale manages to make Gorr a little more
than the usual one-note villains the series is known for, with one great
moment in which he goes full panto villain to terrify a cage full of
abducted kids.

It’s Russell Crowe who provides the comic highlight however as
Zeus. Far from the great saviour Thor expects of his hero, the Greek God
turns out to be a Silvio Berlusconi clone, more interested in orgies
than saving the universe. Crowe is having an absolute blast here, and
his 10 minutes of screen time might be the most enjoyable of the entire
MCU.


Thor: Love and Thunder review

Of course, this is an MCU movie, and no amount of Waititi’s Mel Brooks
influenced escapades can cover how visually bland the movie looks. Like
most of these movies, it has the look of a TV with the motion smoothing
setting left on (no wonder Tom Cruise has never appeared in one of these
things). At one point the heroes enter a vast citadel and tell us how
over-awed they are by its magnificence, but as the camera pans around
all we can see is a blur of colour. Like all these movies, it inevitably
ends up in a punch-up that appears to take place inside a lava lamp,
though this one does have a surprisingly sweet denouement.

MCU devotees may complain that this doesn’t move the series forward,
but the rest of us will be refreshed by an MCU instalment that is happy
to simply exist in its own moment.


Thor: Love and Thunder
 is in UK/ROI cinemas from July 7th.



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