“Thor: Love and Thunder” marks the fourth standalone effort, but I think the filmmakers missed an opportunity to call it “Thor 4.” Nevertheless, this sequel delivers more of what the fan base expects, even if the results are a bit uneven.
Chris Hemsworth returns as the God of Thunder, trying to get back into shape and striking up an alliance with the Guardians of the Galaxy. However, their role doesn’t amount to much more than an extended cameo.
Thor wants to live out his life in peace, but he’s summoned to New Asgard, where a new threat is presented in the form of Gorr, the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who looks a whole lot like Voldemort. Gorr carries a weapon designed to take out all other gods after his god failed to save the life of his daughter.
When Gorr arrives on the scene and meets Thor, they’re about to have a confrontation when Thor’s old hammer Mjolnir shows up, and now it’s in the possession of his ex, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Mjolnir sensed her worthiness, which is why she was granted its powers. This provides a lot of banter between Thor and Jane that could’ve been straight out of a ‘90s romantic comedy.
Gorr kidnaps a group of Asgard’s children, and Thor assembles a team to get them back. Among them are Jane, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Korg (director/cowriter Takia Waititi). Together the four of them travel to a place called Omnipotent City where many other gods reside and ask for their help. They also happen to encounter Zeus (a campy Russell Crowe). Crowe doesn’t have very many scenes, and while his performance does have a sense of playfulness, it’s also a bit odd. “Thor: Love and Thunder” could’ve easily also been called “Thor: Guns N’ Roses” because their hits blare just before the movie’s most crucial moments. Whenever there’s a huge battle about to take place, that’s when we’re treated to the likes of “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Paradise City” or “November Rain.” The songs are about as subtle as Thor’s hammer to the forehead. Director/cowriter Waititi tried a very jokey hand with “Thor: Ragnarok,” and it effectively balanced its elements for the most part. He tries to get lightning to strike again with “Love and Thunder,” but the results are less satisfying. Waititi tries to balance the comedic scenes with some that are unexpectedly dark and emotional, and the film’s tone becomes occasionally inconsistent.
Still, I am recommending it because of the great work from Bale and Portman, who really help sell the scenes they’re in, and there are some visual delights, especially in the aforementioned Omnipotent City, where the effects are fun and even impressive.
If there is a fifth, I would like to see more of what made “Ragnarok” work so well. Note: I mentioned a couple of different titles in jest this movie could’ve been called, but I think another one could be “Thor 4: Gorr.”
(Rated PG-13 for intense sci-fi violence, action, language, partial nudity and some suggestive material.)