In Thor: Love and Thunder, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is joined by Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) in a mission to stop Gorr the God Butcher from killing every known god in the universe. A mission that, sadly, takes a very long time to take off.
[Possible mild spoilers for Thor: Love and Thunder below]
A slow start for Thor: Love and Thunder
During the film’s first hour, Thor: Love and Thunder feels oddly paced and devoid of feeling. It’s as if you’re watching a Marvel Studios meeting happening in real-time, where a story group is attempting to figure out a way to bring every character they need from Avengers: Endgame into this new story. The result is not as seamless as expected, given how the first act can feel increasingly slow at times.
There is a relevant sequence around the middle of the film where, without spoiling too much, color is drained away from the characters and they proceed to jump into action in black and white. From that point onwards it could be a completely different movie than the first hour and, thankfully, it is a better movie. The narrative starts to feel more focused and the performances become much more grounded.
Godly Performances: Natalie Portman and Christian Bale shine
Speaking about the performances, Natalie Portman and Christian Bale stand out prominently from the rest of the cast. Bale looks like he had a great deal of fun while delivering his lines as the menacing Gorr the God Butcher.
Portman gives Jane Foster a complete makeover from her previous appearances as the character to become The Mighty Thor. Jane’s arc begins with a cancer diagnosis, which was expected by most fans given her story in the comics. As she begins her quest to find a cure, whether it comes from science or Asgardian magic, the character is given new depth and a true time to shine.
It is truly bittersweet watching Portman’s Mighty Thor grapple with her own mortality and her choice to become her own hero. A rare arc for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where a character can ponder about her place in the story and what it means for her own life and legacy.
The place where this adventure leaves Thor is refreshing and inspiring. Chris Hemsworth doesn’t look bored with the role just yet. However, one is left wondering just how many times is Thor going to find himself in these movies before he actually “finds himself” and is able to move on from the many tragedies that have befallen him.
The Good, the Bad, and the Taiki Waititi of it
Those who enjoyed Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok, will certainly have a blast this time around given the very similar styles that both movies share. But the fact that most of the time it also just feels like more of the same might disappoint some viewers who come in expecting something different from what came before.
Hopefully, the new character dynamics and strong performances that come with the return of Natalie Portman and the addition of Christian Bale bring enough energy for audience members who desire to see something new.
On a positive note: the musical selection is a fun addition to the MCU. As the Guardians of the Galaxy movies like to rock out to ’70s hits, the music in Love and Thunder serves as a nice counterpart with lively ’90s Pop that helps enhance Waititi’s trademark tongue-in-cheek humor and charm.
Overall, the fourth Thor film demonstrates most of the worst qualities of the MCU during its first half. Unfinished-looking visual effects, forced interconnectivity, and bland storytelling seem to point at what could be the eventual downfall of the franchise.
During the second half of the movie, there are enough action and good character moments to be entertained. It will be up to the general audience to see if the fourteen-year-old franchise can continue its current course, or if an increase in quality is needed.
There are some sincere moments during the second half of the film that are exciting and emotional. But also it is evident that Marvel Studios can’t work on more than ten productions a year without a decrease in quality. This story could’ve used a bit more heart and a bit less world-building.
My rating for this film:
Thor: Love and Thunder, starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, and Christian Bale will be released in theaters worldwide on July 8, 2022.