THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER – Review – We Are Movie Geeks



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(L-R): Natalie Portman as Mighty Thor and Chris Hemsworth as Thor in Marvel Studios’ THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER. Photo by Jasin Boland. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

Well, we’ve made it through the soaring temps and the dangerous fireworks displays of the big three-day holiday weekend. I think a reward is in order, perhaps a trip to one of our favorite cinematic “getaways”. I’m referring to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or the ole’ “MCU” as many fans have dubbed it. Sure, it’s been almost two months to the day since our last visit, but don’t you want to be taken away in the cool confines of your local multiplex? A head’s up: unlike the last two entries, our favorite Sorceror Supreme is nowhere to be found, though longtime fans will recognize a supporting player from his comics series (I’m not a spoiler, so that’s all). But we are familiar with this character, dating back to 2011. He’s not the oldest Marvel comics character, even though his roots stretch back thousands of years. Really. Now he’s truly venturing into unchartered territory as the only solo Marvel hero to have a fourth film in his franchise (technically, THE AVENGERS are at that number, though I count INFINITY WAR and ENDGAME as one king-sized epic). Brace yourself true believers, but don’t plug up your ears (you’ll miss some witty quips) for the one-two punch of THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER.

Prior to that logo we love (look for both Moon Knight and Ms. Marvel in the letter windows) we’re taken to a desolate scorched alien planet where a father named Gorr (Christian Bale) struggles to keep himself and his pre-teen daughter alive. After tragedy strikes, he sees an oasis in the distance, a lush haven for the deities he worships. There Gorr exacts his revenge using a special sword, becoming the “God Butcher”. Cut to a cave entrance by the ocean where the towering rock-skinned alien Korg (Takia Waititi) entrances a group of youngsters with the exploits of his BFF, the “Space Viking”, Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth). Since we last saw him in ENDGAME he left New Asgard on Earth, handing the governing reigns to “king” Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) to explore the universe with those “heroes for hire”, the Guardians of the Galaxy (Chris Pratt and all the members of the MCU series). During his time with them, Thor loses his bloated belly and gains muscle, more than ever before. And he irks Starlord by becoming a bit of a “showboat. And he gains a rep as a swashbuckling ladies’ man, though his thoughts still turn back to the Earth-born Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). After receiving a gift of twin giant magical flying goats from a grateful planet (they may have wanted to be rid of the screaming beasts), he learns of a menace that murders god-like beings on other worlds. Further investigation leads him to believe that New Asgard is next on his “hit list”.Meanwhile Dr. Foster faces her own crisis as a deadly disease almost drains her of life. After Earth science has failed her, she is drawn to the same spot hoping for a New Asgard cure. When Thor and Korg arrive at their old home, Gorr and his gigantic spider-like creatures are destroying the “tourist trap”. Thor is stunned when he, Korg, and Valkyrie are joined by Foster, in full armor and wielding the hammer Mjolnir as the “Mighty Thor”. But they’re not enough to stop Gorr and his minions from grabbing the Asgardian children and whisking them off to an unknown world. Will Thor and his friends enlist the help of the “God-world”, Omnipotent City, run by Zeus himself (Russel Crowe)? And just what is Gorr’s real master plan? Most importantly, will Thor and Jane rekindle their passion, if they can survive the powerful Gorr. And if they somehow triumph could her powers be only temporary?

Let’s raise a glass (maybe a magic Uru hammer instead) to the superb comedic skills developed over the last eleven years by Mr. Chris Hemsworth (just being specific as his “bros” Liam and Luke are pretty talented, too). Though he’s stumbled a bit in similar funny turns in the GHOSTBUSTERS reboot along with MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL (with Ms. Thompson), he’s truly made the Thunder God his own signature role, one that delivers more than laughs and a well-sculpted biceps. He’s got an infectious clumsy charm as he navigates through ordinary worlds and unexpected tenderness in dealing with “lesser mortals” and even the weirdest of creatures. He could be the movies’ most engaging “himbo’ since the glory days of “Arh-nold”. Oh, but there’s his romantic side as he fumbles to keep his ‘cool” around the now “super-charged” Jane. A big “welcome back to the franchise” to Ms. Portman after sitting out the last entry, RAGNAROK (though she did a flashback for ENDGAME). She shows us Dr. Foster’s all-too-human vulnerability as she realizes that all of her intellect can’t delay fate. But there’s also an exhilaration as she taps into her action heroine persona. Luckily the story provides us with a villain truly worthy of an ultimate Viking duo. Once again Marvel strikes cinema gold by casting another Batman (like Keaton in SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING) as a formidable ‘baddie” with Bale bringing intensity and stunning humanity (ala’ Thanos and the recent Scarlet Witch), and a wicked sense of “gallows humor” to the twisted being who will let no one stand in his pursuit of his (kinda’ relatable) goals. Joining the forces of good is the always compelling Ms. Thompson who shows us that Valkyrie is more than a wild “warrior woman”. There’s a dim glaze in her eyes as she deals with the mundane as the royalty of New Asgard. Townhall meetings and public relations (cutting a commercial) have almost drained her spirit. When she teams with her old pals, it’s as if an electrical switch has been flipped, which also jolts her snarky wit back into focus. Waititi is just as fun as the “rock monster” with a “laid back” attitude, content to observe and “back-up” his thunder bro’ will also taking a bit of the p#*s out of him. One of the film’s biggest unexpected delights is Crowe sending up his action hero past (GLADIATOR comes to mind) as the pompous but fairly clueless Greek “God of gods” who seems more interested in mortal-style pleasures of the flesh.

Once again, Waititi establishes himself as an astounding cinema triple threat, doing a superb “mo-cap” as Korg, directing and co-writing the screenplay with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson (he had similar duties on JO JO RABBIT and snagged a well-deserved Oscar for the adaptation). In his second Thor outing, Waititi truly makes the franchise his own, somehow going seamlessly from hilarious comedy to bombastic action, then switching from a tentative romance to heart-rending tragedy and even a smidgen of nail-biting horror and suspense. We can even say he’s given us a pretty darn cool mini Guardians of the Galaxy movie (to tide us over till Jim Gunn’s trilogy finale next year). And kudos to the many artisans and craftspeople for creating these incredible worlds of wonder, going from the “eye candy’ of the alien realms (love the crystal-like cities) to the tacky theme-park kitsch of New Asgard (love the multiple cruise ships in the harbor) to the spooky realm of Gorr, recalling the eerie silent cinema sci-fi and surrealist imagery of a hundred years ago. It all works thanks in large part to Barry Idione’s cinematography and the tag team music score from Michael Giacchino and Nami Melumad. During the sequence in Omnipotent City, I wanted the camera to linger a bit longer in order to drink in the imaginative renderings of the deities of different cultures and planets (that’ll be a great BluRay bonus feature). Balancing the action and cosmic journeys are nice bits of playful humor (who knew an ax could be jealous of a hammer). While many franchises will seem to be “running on fumes” by the fourth installment, this series actually feels re-energized, ready to take us on more cosmic capers full of danger and delights. Hopefully, those are in the works (those Marvel magicians are always plotting and planning), but for now, fans of high-flying adventure (and chuckles and swooning passion) will get their multiplex-money’s worth of derring-do with THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER, where it’s always “hammer-time” (and a very good time).

3.5 Out of 4

THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER opens in theatres everywhere on Friday, July 8, 2022

Jim Batts was a contestant on the movie edition of TV's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" in 2009 and has been a member of the St. Louis Film Critics organization since 2013.