Following the utterly delightful Thor: Ragnarok from 2017, Taika Waititi is back in charge of filming, with Chris Hemsworth's Asgardian Avenger finding his lovingly comedic groove, and Natalie Portman making an astonishing return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe after a nine-year absence.
The 29th Marvel Cinematic Universe film, which will be released on July 8, fails to hit the mark. Thors' fourth solo adventure spreads itself too thin and ends up as a shambles.
With a shocking introduction, Christian Bales' villainous God Butcher takes center stage. After his shady desert home-world claims the life of his daughter, his encounter with an uncaring, callous god drives him to launch a campaign to murder every divine being in the universe.
This sequence is both atmospheric and patient, giving Bales the opportunity to breathe and allow us to see his growing displeasure, confusion, and rage. Then the Marvel Studios logo rolls in and the roller coaster begins. Is this all you're getting in this film?
Don't expect to spend much time with the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Thor decided to join the Guardians of the Galaxy for some spacefaring adventures after Thanos' defeat, the last time we saw him in 2019's Avengers: Endgame, and he did, completely outclasses his new friends, making him seem like an overpowered video game character as he crushes their foes and leaves the Guardians looking a bit useless.
This film is packed with action scenes that are colorful and visually stunning, and a generous amount of superhero collateral damage, but Thor and his rocky ally (hes literally made of rocks) soon decide to go their own ways, leaving the Guardians storyline intact and completely wasteing Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan, and friends until the joke has any chance to develop.
Jane Foster (Portman) is enlisted in battle while Thor attacks Thor's fellow Asgardians on Earth, after being deemed worthy in her darkest hour.
Thor relaxes in one of the few movies that allows for quietness.
This storyline should reflect Jane's heart, given the very real human health problems she faces. It just takes the time it takes for the challenge she faces to sink in, like it's afraid to get too real and eager to take us on the next adventure (some dramatic moments are also subdued by its two post-credits scenes).
Jane in particular uses her new abilities in stunning ways, but neither the editing nor the cinematography give us time to relish these. Nothing from this film surpasses Captain Americas elevator brawl, three Spider-Men falling into battle, or Scarlet Witchs encounter with the Illuminati.
The awkwardness between Jane and Thor is initially enjoyable due to Portman and Hemsworth's charisma and chemistry, but it doesnt develop in a particularly compelling way. A one-note joke about Thor and his new weapon Stormbreaker is more memorable, and even that soon becomes playable.
Valkyrie is evidently a big supporter of Andrew Lloyd Webber.
King Valkyrie is the hero team rounded out by Tessa Thompson, who is bored with her role as the leader of the magical tourist trap that New Asgard has become. Thompson infuses the character with enough mischief that she is a delight to watch. Even her outfit choices hint at a fascinating inner life Her Phantom of the Opera shirt is far more intriguing than any superhero costume.
One of the greatest scenes is a quiet exchange between Jane and Valkyrie, since it is a rare instance of the film slowing down and giving its actors and writers room to connect emotionally. Putting aside Hemsworths compelling screen presence and uncanny comic timing, one cant help but wonder if this adventure would have been better without Thor.
Gorrs' threat is greatly diminished following his memorable introduction. As Thor follows a trail of divine slaughter across the universe, his God Butchers comics counterpart (introduced in Jason Aarons beloved 2012 Thor: God of Thunder run) feels like a major threat.
Gorr's evil is largely reduced to kidnapping Asgardian children as part of a larger plot, making him seem less like Gorr the God Botherer.
Gorr is presented magnificently throughout this adventure.
Despite this, Bales' performance and aesthetic choices inject the character with a lot of creepy spectral boogeyman vibes (apparently inspired by Aphex Twins deeply disturbing Come to Daddy music video). A midpoint confrontation with the heroes is one of the MCU's most visually stunning sequences, with clever use of shadow and color.
However, the film does include a scene-stealing Russell Crowe as a narcissistic Zeus. Unfortunately, his role is mostly limited to a single shiny set piece that is mostly forgotten as the main narrative breezes through it.
Love and Thunder isn't up to the incredible tales that inspired it. It neither conforms to the directors' style nor maximizes its dramatic potential, feeling more like a superficial, unsatisfactory mashup. It's still a fun, silly entry into the MCU canon, but isn't the classic Thor adventure its hunky hero seems to be on.
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