Thor: Love and Thunder is the latest installment from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the fourth movie in the Thor series. The movie is more lighthearted and fun compared to the last two Marvel releases (Spider-Man and Doctor Strange) from earlier this year. The movie stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, and Christian Bale in lead roles and is co-written by Taika Waititi and Jennifer Kaytin Robinson and directed by Taika Waititi.
The movie opens with a grief-stricken Gorr (Christian Bale) wandering about in the desert after his daughter dies in his arms of hunger and thirst. Gorr, a once devout and peaceful man, loses his faith in the gods after God Rapu mocks and belittles his suffering. Gorr renounces his God and grabs the Necrosword when Rapu tries to strangle him to death. Gorr kills Rapu, and so Gorr the God Butcher (not once does he butcher anyone in the movie) is born. He vows to rid the world of all the Gods, and so begins the story. While Christian Bale is phenomenal and terrifying as Gorr, his character comes across as half-baked, with the sole purpose of portraying Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth) as the glorious hero opposite the cliched maniacal villain that is Gorr.
Christian Bale amazes with his performance as Gorr, he commands the screen every time he comes on, it’s difficult to take one’s eyes off him, and every expression is perfectly nuanced. Unfortunately, a talent powerhouse like Bale was underutilized here, his character was not given enough time to shine and material to work with. This seemed to be a recurring problem with the movie, the best actors aren’t given much screen time or substantial roles.
Jane Foster’s (Natalie Portman) character is brought back for this movie and is given a lengthier role than ever before. Portman looks gorgeous as Lady Thor with her suit and hammer and gives a great performance. She is dealing with a heartbreaking emotional crisis in this installment, but unfortunately, the part lacked depth and failed to rouse sympathy or interest. Meanwhile, King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) is a delight to watch and managed to wow even in the limited screen time she was given, the emotion-packed scene between Portman and Thomson is one of the best in the movie. Thor is as swoon-worthy as always with his blond mane and bulked-up muscles, and he has excellent chemistry with Foster.
Gorr, with his life now connected to the fancy God killing weapon, Necrosword, attacks New Asgard (which is now a tourist destination) and kidnaps the children to use them as leverage and lure Thor. He needs Thor’s axe Stormbreaker, to access the Bifrost Bridge, which is the only way to open the Gates of Eternity. Eternity here embodies the entire universe, and the first to reach it is granted one wish, Gorr’s being to kill all Gods. This leads to Foster, Valkyrie, and Thor joining forces and planning a rescue mission to save the children and stop Gorr.
With its underlying theme of love and sacrifice, the movie has a good start but eventually falls flat due to the overuse of old, recycled jokes and catchphrases. Thor comes across as less of a God and more of a goofball. The writers’ need to dumb him down so he could appear humorous results in him coming across as a blond with all brawn and no brains. Why can’t a person be smart, funny, and have emotional depth all at the same time? There was so much room for this character’s growth, He’s the God of Thunder, who has suffered tremendous losses over his lifetime, from his family to his friends, all these events could have led to his emotional growth, but it’s almost as if he’s regressed emotionally. That’s not to say that the movie did not have its hilarious moments, but they should have balanced the funny with the serious. Maybe Waititi was trying to overcompensate for Loki’s absence, alas, we’ll never know.
The action scenes, in the beginning, are a visual delight with an out-of-control video game quality with added special effects that are fun to watch but get tedious as the movie progresses, which is quite surprising considering this is a Marvel Movie and they’re famous for their action sequences.
There is a cameo by Russell Crowe as the Greek God Zeus, who is narcissistic and pompous. This sets the premises for future movies in the franchise. Unfortunately, Love and Thunder fails to make a good sequel. Thor Ragnarok was far superior, with better action sequences, character development, and balanced humor. That’s not to say that the movie isn’t worth watching. It has an excellent star cast and some very entertaining moments, but it does not live up to the expectations due to the weak storyline and lack of new material.