Thor: The Dark World was released ten years ago in 2013. After seeing the exceedingly lackluster movie, many film critics wondered if it signalled the end of Thor as a cinematic character. Some even went as far as to ponder whether it meant the death of the successful comic book movie. Those people were evidently proven wrong in the subsequent decade of hugely successful MCU movies.
Then in 2017, a New Zealand-born film director called Taika Waititi took over the franchise and breathed a refreshing amount of new comedic life into the character. Thor: Ragnarok set the tone for Thor as a character going forward in a positive way. The series was revitalized and fans and critics alike were onboard for this new version of the character.
Waititi would go on to direct Thor: Love and Thunder and unfortunately, he fails to recapture the magic of Ragnarok this time around. In fact, this movie fails to capture any of the elements which make an MCU film compelling. Instead, the filmmakers seem more intent on creating a movie which plays out more like a poor parody of the superhero genre.
Thor: Love and Thunder is now playing in theatres.
This is a spoiler free review.
Story: Nothing of Much Significance
The story in Thor: Love and Thunder, – like many other elements of the film – feels half-baked and somewhat unfinished. The movie opens with a by-the-numbers scene showing the origins of Christian Bale’s character; Gorr. It ultimately feels like a rushed, surface-level piece of storytelling without any real narrative depth.
Then, once Gorr is established as the movie’s villain, he kidnaps a bunch of Asgardians kids and locks them in a cage to transport them to some sort of evil lair. Thor teams up with Korg, King Valkyrie and Jane Foster aka Mighty Thor to go and rescue them.
The whole thing feels pretty inconsequential in the grand scheme of the MCU. None of it feels as though it has any real impact on the previously established wider universe which we know is out there. Therefore, Gorr never really feels like a true threat and the film in general starts to feel like non-essential viewing.
Characters & Performances: Goofy Caricatures and Parodies
Taika Waititi was brought in to steer the Thor franchise in a fresh new direction in Ragnarok. The way that he chose to do that was by using Chris Hemsworth’s comedic chops to play up the humour of the character. This was palatable because the character did have previous comedic moments during past movies, therefore it felt consistent with the previously established character, if slightly exaggerated.
However, in Thor: Love and Thunder every character is turned into a quip-making parody of what we knew them as before. Jane Foster was always a straight-faced, serious character in past movies and yet here, she is throwing out goofy japes with every second line that she delivers. The same thing happens with Valkyrie, who Waititi himself introduced in the previous movie as the straight-woman to Thor’s joking goofball.
Due to this, less overall emotional impact is felt by the audience during the more serious plot elements in the film. A huge example of this is Jane Foster’s stage 4 cancer diagnosis. The love of Thor’s life is dying and the entire subject is relegated to a few throwaway lines. Because the movie seems so focused on just getting to the next punch-line, big moments like this suffer and lack the weight and gravitas that they really deserve.
Russell Crowe’s Zeus, (another character who is played as a joke,) ponders at one point; “When did we become the joke?” As I sat through Thor: Love and Thunder, I wondered the same thing many times. And the jokes aren’t even all that funny. I can count on one hand the amount of times that I properly laughed during the movie.
Thankfully Taika Waititi’s Korg carries a lot of the humour in the film. Again, because he has been previously established as a comedic relief character, it works. His dialogue was definitely the high point in terms of the film’s script and without that, Thor: Love and Thunder would have been painfully unfunny.
Cinematography & Sound: Not Quite My Tempo
Besides Korg’s dialogue, the other major highlight of the movie was the look of the Shadow Realm. It was by far the most visually striking section of the film. I also liked the fact that it juxtaposed the usual colourful poppyness that is usually associated with a Taika Waititi film.
However, the soundtrack choice was just another element of this movie which felt lazy and uncreative. I realize that MCU movies are prone to using mainstream rock anthems to help set the tone during action scenes and therefore I didn’t expect them to fill the movie with varied underground music.
With that said though, I feel like they could at least be more imaginative than just setting the entire movie against the backdrop of a Guns n’ Roses’ greatest hits compilation. The lack of diversity in the music choices stood out as feeling extremely easy and made it feel as though little to no effort went into choosing the songs on the soundtrack.
Pacing: Mercifully Brief
When it was announced that the runtime for Thor: Love and Thunder was just short of two hours, folks online were complaining that two hours seems too short for a Marvel movie at this stage. I am here to tell you that two hours of this film is more than enough and if it went on any longer, it would have just grated my patience even more than it already did.