Still of Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Love and Thunder

Film Review: Thor: Love and Thunder

Film Reviews

Thor: Love and Thunder
Director: Taika Waititi

Marvel Studios
In Theaters 07.08

I had reached a point of burnout and disinterest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, leaving the chaotic and joyless Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness needing a total break from the superhero genre. Once again, it’s up to Writer-Director Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit) to rejuvenate the MCU for me, and Thor: Love and Thunder takes things to a whole new level of crazy fun.

Thor: Love and Thunder finds our titular and muscular hero (Chris Hemsworth) still bumming around space with the Guardians of the Galaxy on an extended sabbatical from The Avengers, uncertain if he’s even going back. Of course, before you can say “everytime I think I’m out, they pull me back in” in your best Al Pacino voice, Thor learns that a new villain known as Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale) is out to destroy every god in existence. The God of Thunder is called into action, and he’s going need the help of King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Waititi) and, most of all, his ex-girlfriend, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who our hero is shocked to discover now wields his magical hammer, Mjolnir, and therefore holds all the same powers as Thor.  

Waititi, who breathed fresh life into the franchise once before with Thor: Ragnarok, is a delightfully offbeat artist who seems almost incapable of going wrong, and lightning can indeed strike twice. Thor: Love and Thunder is hysterically funny and surprisingly deep for a Marvel movie. Christian Bale’s Gorr is the most interesting antagonist that Marvel has given us since Erik Killmonger in Black Panther, eclipsing the wildly overrated California Raisin known as Thanos. Gorr’s motivations are far darker and more heartbreaking than I was expecting, and Bale’s level of commitment to the role is peerless to the point of sometimes being downright disturbing. It’s a character and performance that brings credibility to the comic book genre as a whole. Natalie Portman, who I’ve always thought was overly maligned for her performances in these movies, gets more than a chance to shine this time around. While this isn’t her definitive film performance, it is  my favorite. 

The one-note nature of the romance between Thor and Jane has always been a sore point for detractors and even fans. Waititi takes full advantage of the chance to make a relationship comedy like we’ve never seen before. Hemsworth continues to take Thor to new places and add new layers, and the growth those new dimensions have brought to this character, starting with Ragnarok, has been phenomenal. The rest of the cast is stellar, with Russell Crowe‘s portrayal of Zeus being the most lovely and entertaining piece of acting he’s done since The Nice Guys. Thompson doesn’t get quite enough screen time for my taste, but frankly, she could be the focal point of every scene and I’d still want to see more of this charming and gifted star.

Thor: Love and Thunder is wild and wacky enough that it’s not going to work for everyone, though the Marvel Cinematic Universe is big enough that there isn’t just room for variety, there’s a desperate need for it. For me, Thor: Love and Thunder was a creative shot in the musclebound arm for Marvel, and the first time since Avengers: Endgame that I feel the need to see a Marvel movie more than once. –Patrick Gibbs

Read more reviews of Marvel films:
Film Review: Captain Marvel
Film Review: Black Widow