thor: love & thunder
Though he is known for his mighty strength, Thor isn’t known for having strong movies. The first movie is a tolerable, Shakespearean fantasy that plays on its theatrical inspirations a little too much, and the less said about the sequel the better. It wasn’t until Taiki Waititi’s direction in Thor: Ragnarök that the god of thunder got some positive reception on the big screen, but does lightning strike twice for Waititi, Hemsworth, and the rest?
Unfortunately, Ragnarök was a nice flash of lightning, but this is more of a 2-year-old’s crayon drawing of a lightning bolt, which looks more like a snake or a noodle. Oh, how lucky we got with Thor: The Dark World…we had no idea how good we had it. This isn’t just the worst Thor movie; this is probably the worst Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. This was the first time I had ever said out loud, “Enough with the jokes.” And I wasn’t even halfway through it. This is basically a bunch of SNL skits stitched together rather than being an actual movie. Something like this can work. Monty Python was the master of this type of filmmaking. However, this is trying to have a serious story to tie together all of the gags and giggles, rather than being just a straight up comedy. In one scene, kids are being kidnapped and threatened with being slaughtered, and then the next scene, Thor is pouring beer on his ax because the ax is jealous of Thor’s affection for his old hammer. In one scene, Jane Foster is dealing with cancer, and then the next scene, Russel Crowe is rambling about an orgy. The tonal inconsistency, the unrelentless jokes, and plot holes out the wazoo made this feel like a halfhearted attempt at movie making. I seriously felt like I wasted my time watching this. Marvel Studios knows how to make engaging and emotionally charged movies. They’ve made some incredible passion projects, which resulted in some of the greatest superhero movies ever made, not to mention several worldwide phenomena hits. And somehow this got a pass and was released to theaters. This is one of those rare movies that made me feel mad watching it. I don’t want to hate this movie. I’ve loved Marvel ever since I was a kid. Heck, I sat through the entirety of both Iron Fist and Inhumans shows–talk about loyalty! Yet somehow, I would rather rewatch either of those awful shows than rewatch this again.
Despite the horribly written story, the visuals are surprisingly a delight. When it comes to Marvel movies, the VFX artists must have a lot of fun because there are some amazing shots showing off their talent. There are a couple of standout fights that feature some clever and grotesquely detailed animations that should have been included in a better movie. In fact, one fight takes place in a monochrome realm, and wow, that was a visual treat! However, there are other places where the CGI seems bland and uninspired. Korg somehow looks like a less rendered model from previous movies, and some of the background elements feel a little slapped together. Obviously, a lot of thought went into each shot to create these fantastical worlds, but because the plot cares more about how many jokes can be spat out before the credits roll rather than telling a compelling narrative, the effects have a cheap feeling to them. Special effects are meant to complement the story, like icing on a cake, but if the icing is layered on top of a pile of crap, then it's not very appetizing. Which is a shame, because I think I was more invested in seeing the artists' creativity on display rather than what was happening amongst the characters. I feel like watching the behind-the-scenes with the artists and animators explaining their thought process behind their work would be more compelling than the movie they worked on.
Speaking of the characters, it's really a darn shame that so many great actors are wasted here. Hemsworth has shown many sides of Thor through the years, and he's been able to explore the character's inner feelings towards all that has happened to him. Infinity War, by far, has Hemsworth's best performance of the character, which made me so excited to see him get another solo outing. Unfortunately, the character of Thor has gone from being a heart broken yet persevering king to a bumbling buffoon. I'm not opposed to Hemsworth making Thor funny; he did a great job of bringing out the humorous side of the character in Ragnarök and Endgame. However, this movie was relentless in trying to make him into a comedic relief…in a movie full of comedic reliefs. Natalie Portman is a phenomenal actress that has proven time and time again that she can command a scene with her acting talents, and she may have done so here too, except she was directed to be a cartoon character and not someone dealing with cancer. Seriously, she could have had some amazing scenes where she showcased the internal struggle of someone who is inching closer and closer to death yet still puts up a fight for others over her own needs, but instead, the cancer bit is almost shrugged off at times in favor of making her into a giddy jokester. Russell Crowe was the biggest disappointment. It's freaking Russell Crowe playing Zeus, and he wasn't allowed to be freaking Zeus. Instead, he acted as an unimpressive and annoying version of the mighty god of Roman mythology. The only actor that was allowed to show off their chops was Christian Bale as Gorr the god butcher. Honestly, he was the best thing about the movie, and I wished the movie was about his character. Gorr allowed him to explore an emotionally driven villain that is both incredibly disturbing and saddening. Gorr is betrayed by his faith in a god, and in turn, he becomes a vengeful killer who takes his prayers and desires into his own hands. It’s an intriguing premise for a character, and he would have been a great antagonist for the god of thunder. However, despite such a memorable performance, Christian Bale is hindered by the lack of screentime for his character. There was so much potential with Bale’s acting chops in this role, and because the movie didn’t want to focus on the deeply compelling religious-themed character, we don’t get to see Bale elevate the character to stardom like other iconic Marvel villains. This movie had so much potential to be an epic tale of a devout religious man falling away from his faith and battling deities in order to reclaim his lost love, and with a cast like this, it could have been one of the deepest and most thought provoking superhero movies ever made. Instead, the great talent was wasted on gags, jokes, and tomfoolery.
This movie makes me mad. There are so many wasted concepts and themes that could have made this movie phenomenal, but instead, it wastes our time with some of the most childish antics and poorly written jokes I’ve seen in a while. I think that’s what I’m upset about the most–we’ve seen Marvel do some stellar work with lesser known characters like the Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, and Doctor Strange, but when it comes to the Norse god of thunder whose tales of might and mystery predate Marvel comic books and are as fascinating and epic as when they were first told, you would think there would be some love poured into the making of this movie and cause a thunderous applause from the audience. Instead, the movie left me angry and silent.
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