I really liked Thor: Ragnarok. REALLY liked it. For me, it was the best of the Thor films so far, and the comedy worked for me throughout. I could see why some might dislike it though, especially if they didn't appreciate the comedy. Funnily enough, watching Thor: Love And Thunder has put me in an even better position to sympathise with people who disliked Thor: Ragnarok. Because I really disliked this.
The plot this time around revolves around Gorr (Christian Bale), a grieving father who ends up turning himself into a killer of gods. That puts Thor in the way of danger again, of course, but he's not alone. He has the help of King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and a returning Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). There's also Korg (voiced once again by director Taika Waititi) by his side, and a few other familiar faces scattered throughout the runtime.
There's a very obvious problem with Thor: Love And Thunder. In fact, there are two things worth noting as the obvious problems. First of all, the comedy doesn't really work. It feels tired this time around, like a joke you laughed at on the first day of your new job but now hate because you know that your colleague makes the same damn joke every single morning. Second, the more serious aspects of the film aren't given enough room to breathe, which means nothing is as effective as it could be, and nothing really feels earned on the way to the end credits (and don't even get me started on the mid-credits and post-credits scenes here . . . because URGH).
Waititi works as the voice of Korg, but he falls flat on his face in his role as writer (working out the story that was further hammered into screenplay form by Jennifer Kaytin Robinson) and director. There are some nice visuals here, and some entertaining set-pieces, but so many of the best moments do little more than remind viewers of very similar moments in the previous Thor movie.
At least the cast all work well though . . . is something you could easily say if the cast worked well. Sadly, that's not the case. Portman and Thompson are both good, dealing well with clumsy plotting that asks them to do some heavier lifting with their performances. Bale is also good. He's the highlight of the film, an impressive and scary presence for every minute of his screentime. Hemsworth, sadly, is on autopilot. This is his worst turn in the MCU yet, having forgotten how he once played a character that has now become a messy mass of mugging and ridiculousness. The first ever Thor movie managed to burst the bubble of pomposity that viewers worried about, but also balanced the fish-out-of-water comedy with the weight and seriousness of Thor's responsibilities. This film forgets about that balance, and Hemsworth suffers because of it. The same can be said for Russell Crowe, who turns up as Zeus, sporting a terrible attempt at a Greek accent and an equally terrible line in over the top swagger. At least Crowe is more fun though, simply because he's a newcomer to the silliness.
There are still some good moments here and there, especially whenever Bale is involved, but this is a film that generally feels misguided, at best, lazy, and out of touch with what viewers want to see. The transformation of Portman's character is pretty great, the Guns ‘n’ Roses soundtrack choices are pretty great, the rest of the film . . . not so great. And the rest includes unfunny voiceover commentary moments, unfunny depictions of Thor "comedically" trying to deal with jealousy and regret, and a running gag involving screaming goats.
If you have enjoyed this, or any other, review on the blog then do consider the following ways to show your appreciation. A subscription/follow costs nothing.
It also costs nothing to like/subscribe to the YouTube channel attached to the podcast I am part of - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCErkxBO0xds5qd_rhjFgDmA
Or you may have a couple of quid to throw at me, in Ko-fi form - https://ko-fi.com/kevinmatthews