The fourth instalment of the Thor franchise has Taika Waititi return to direct after the success of Thor: Ragnarok. Ragnarok was a tonal shift for the franchise and many were excited to see what Taika was going to bring to the God of Thunder.
Gorr The God Butcher: Look there is an inherent fear that when you bring great prolific actors into a franchise their capabilities will eclipse the other actors and their stories. In Ragnarok, Hela is played by Cate Blanchett and despite being a superb actress and not holding anything back, Cate/Hela was only one of the reasons Ragnarok was such a triumph. In Love and Thunder, Gorr is the films saving grace. Gorr, played by Christian Bale, is committed and angry, and violent and his reasoning is understandable but that is the problem. Gorr vows to kill all Gods after he prays are ignored by his god. I want to give props to this movie for acknowledging multiple gods cause they could have easily left it at the few that are popular but I saw many different ethnic gods present and I am grateful that the movie at least depicted that. Gorr’s portrayal was so visceral, he was not played with oozing charisma or playfulness so it kind of made me feel like I was watching a whole different film sometimes. The scene with Gorr frightening the kids or when Thor, Valkyrie and Mighty Thor are being held by Thor is so different to everything else that they don’t feel like the same film. Was this intentional? Bale was so good in his parts that it either felt like he was being taken seriously or everybody else was reigning it in. It took me out of the film.
Sophomore slump: I think there was huge pressure on Love and Thunder to elicit the same kind of reaction out of fans that Ragnarok did and I think no one would have felt that more than Waititi. Everybody loved the way Waititi characterised not just Thor but Asgard. I think the pressure to laugh more or just as much as Ragnarok was ever-present so unfortunately, it felt like every moment was almost an attempt to inject a bit of comedy into the film unnecessarily. The sweet is only sweet because there is sour. If the film allowed itself to be a bit more serious on the topics of impending death, what it means to lead or be a hero and wondering where one belongs, the parts of levity would have been appreciated more. There are parts of this film that are funny and endearing but it pushes more to the cartoonish side than it does the endearing side, unfortunately.
Theme (Gods? Love?): This film for me had two themes running alongside each other do they meet? Kind of but in the most sloppy way. Gorr for me represents a theme I wished the film was more about. There are parts of the film that align so well with the idea of too much idol worship or false gods and even more so when Zeus refuses to help them fight Gorr but instead of Thor struggling with the idea of what it means to be considered a god and what he would like to represent to the people of Asgard, it makes it seem like killing a tyrant like Zeus would get rid of an ever-growing disillusionment with praying to gods. There are parts of the film that align with love and how staying in love requires work. Somehow the film also makes it seem like Thor wanted to have a child but rarely touches on that. I wish it also dealt with Thor being without Loki more because that would explain Thor’s deep emptiness and how he wishes for a family. Be a better God/Man than his father type of story. That could have worked but then why have Gorr as the villain?
Valkyrie: I wished we could have done more with Valkyrie because it does seem like she is struggling as King of Asgard. There is a sense that she misses battle but also that as soon as Thor shows up, everyone is ready to forgo her authority. I wish the film had her sort of confronting Thor about him undermining her authority because I feel weird about him getting to take the leadership reigns whenever he wants to cause she is now in control. Justice for Valkyrie and Tessa Thompson. Although, they looked great in this film.
Mighty Thor: Look I liked Jane Foster and Natalie Portman did a good job in this film. I think the problem with this film is that Jane’s journey through being Thor is not enough for me. She gets the hammer and all of sudden she knows how to fight? Make it make sense. Maybe had she been in New Asgard for long and she trained that would have made sense. It could have even opened up thoughts about Thor feeling replaced and not just by his hammer even though I did love the banter with Stormbreaker it started to be a bit too much for me. Leaning into cartoonish. I like Natalie and Chris Hemsworth together, they actually have chemistry I think is hilarious. Polar opposites but it works. Jane is dealing with her cancer diagnosis and the more she uses the hammer, the more it drains her of her energy, making it harder for her to fight cancer. Is it sad? Yes. Did it remind me of Chadwick Boseman? Yes. Did I think they did a good enough job of exploring the cancer part of this? No. The cancer part for me was irrelevant, the use of the hammer could have just been killing her because unlike Captain America she is not a super-soldier she is just a normal human and using the hammer AND wearing the mantle of Mighty Thor would kill any mortal. They did not have to bring in the cancer part. It was weird.
Also, Heimdall had a son? Marvel was able to find a worse wig for Idris than the one in Ragnarok? Lord. Too much Korg for me. I actually liked the goats but because sometimes the scenes were already cartoonish adding the goats to it made a bit of a ‘hat on a hat’.
This film was not a bad film but it was not a good film and that is why it is such a disappointment. I think the previous Phase 4 films have better plots, tone and better themes but unlike the previous Phase 4 films Love and Thunder is too disjointed to be saved.