Thor: Love and Thunder | movie review
The god of blunders returns.
Movie summary: Thor enlists the help of Valkyrie, Korg and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster to fight Gorr the God Butcher, who intends to make the gods extinct. (IMDb)
Thor: Love and Thunder is the first movie from the Marvel Cinematic Universe that I never saw at the cinema, although it wasn't the reviews that put me off - contracting Covid and suffering for weeks, while a close friend who I always go to the cinema with suffered with it for even longer doing the job of putting me off. However, I will admit that the less than lukewarm reception didn't exactly make me want to rush to see it on the big screen.
And the first part of the film - conveniently, the movie is pretty much two hours long, making for three different chunks of forty minutes - seemed to confirm my worst fears and some of the more scathing reviews the film had received. Make no mistake, the first third of this film is dreadful and arguably the low point of the entire MCU so far, feeling far more incoherent and pointless than it should've been.
I don't think you can judge a movie based on its worst parts, but I can understand why so many people dislike Love and Thunder as much as they do when you have to put up with such a long stretch that doesn't seem to have any real point to it other than director Taika Waititi apparently living out a toddler's action figure fantasies, coupled with some abysmal 'humour' - and I like to think I've got a pretty broad sense of humour.
It's a shame that it makes such a poor first impression, because the last two-thirds are much better, even if the middle of the movie is still only okay at best. This is definitely a film that gets better the further you get it into it, but I can easily understand anyone who gives up before things actually get good. It's just a shame that they'll miss out on some genuinely great stuff, especially in the climax.
There has always been a lot of criticism about Thor and Jane Foster's relationship in the first two Thor films, with a pretty major issue being that it never felt like Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman had much chemistry between them. Well, that certainly isn't the case this time, with their loving interactions feeling far more believable, aided by some (mixed quality) flashbacks to flesh out their history and make it feel like it means something the audience should care about.
If anything, the biggest problem those two face this time is the constant tonal whiplash between serious drama (Thor having to face a deicidal enemy, Jane/Mighty Thor having to deal with cancer) and some of the broadest, corniest humour to ever feature in a blockbuster movie of any kind. It's difficult to take the drama seriously or enjoy the humour when they're constantly clashing with and undermining each other.
And that's what makes the finale the best section of Love and Thunder, because everything comes together to a single point and that tonal clash is gone, meaning you can fully engage with and enjoy what's happening on-screen, sad as some it may be to see. It also feels somewhat fitting that, while there is a big battle near the end, it's not the actual climax - characters talking about their love for those in their lives instead proves more important than anything else.
A lot of credit also has to be given to Christian Bale, whose character, Gorr the God Butcher, is probably the best thing about the movie, even if said butchering happens off-screen. Bale puts in an appropriately creepy performance, although his motivations are also very easy to understand and he ultimately comes across as quite sympathetic - it's a shame that he doesn't get more screen time.
Thor: Love and Thunder isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea, with a horrible first third that will drive a lot of people to stop watching before the uptick in quality starts, building towards an actually very good last third of the film. At the very least you can appreciate the soundtrack choices to get you through that opening spell - I do think it's worth it in the end.
Thor: Love and Thunder's awfulness has been exaggerated somewhat, although the absolutely appalling opening forty minutes will probably sour most people on the film - first impressions and all that. However, the middle third is okay enough and the finale is actually pretty good, making for an experience that definitely gets better the longer your can manage to stick with it.