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MOVIES: Thor: Love and Thunder - Review



The latest entry in the juggernaut that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe takes on a daunting task: how do you adapt an epic run that was Jason Aaron's 7 year take on Thor, one of the best Marvel comics of recent years that everybody should read - and turn it into a two hour movie? The answer gives you Thor: Love and Thunder, a movie that never fully commits to what it sets out to do - caught between being both a romcom and a movie about the death of Gods - an epic quest for vengeance fuelled by Gorr, the God Butcher - played by Christian Bale, in an instantly memorable performance given the limited material he has to work with.

As a result, Love and Thunder can't quite get its tone right. The emotional moments don't land because Waititi isn't invested in them; and neither does the comedy feel funny - for the first time in what feels like forever, a first weekend-going audience of Marvel fans was deathly silent - and for a comedy movie designed to develop laughs from the audience; that's not a good sign. It might be because the best humour is featured in the trailers - but there doesn't feel like anything remarkably fresh about this movie as a result - it just feels like Waititi is going through the motions on the back of Ragnarok; which found a way to balance the tone well if it wasn't faced with issues of its own.

I do like the idea of multiple Gods in existence beyond that of the Norse Gods - Russell Crowe is clearly having a great time as Zeus; Thor's idol - and the film takes the 'never meet your heroes' trope and runs with it. This Zeus feels far more accurate. With the new, or returning cast - Natalie Portman is superb as the Mighty Thor even if she doesn't quite get the arc that her character deserves; watching her awkwardly come up with superhero catchphrases was fun; but the film's short runtime means that there's never any real chance at depth across the board - Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie, a scene-stealer in Ragnarok, feels short-changed here - you could take her out of the film and it would be relatively unchanged, which is a real shame - the promise of "As new king, she needs to find her queen. So that will be her first order of business", that Thompson told the audience at SDCC in 2019 is all but forgotten.

Valkyrie is not the only character that feels tacked on. It's been a problem with Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness and most recent entries in Phase 4 is that Thor: Love and Thunder spends its time trying to address what happens where we left off - act as a reminder to the audience for those who might have forgotten; or get to the point where Thor can be on his own again without bringing the Guardians along. This takes up the first act of the movie meaning that Thor: Love and Thunder can't really get going to its second - and as a result, the second becomes the first - it's a problem that means that the finale wraps up the movie just as you feel things are really getting started.

There are some neat visuals - a fallen god in the snow is eye-catchingly breath-taking; but by and large - the film is a victim of non-unionised CGI workers that Marvel employs on all of its movies. It's a small miracle that Multiverse of Madness looked as good as it did - the technology can't help but mean that Love and Thunder almost feels like an SNL sketch at times; with the CGI having not improved much from the trailers. Given that film is largely a visual medium, as are the comics they draw the source material from - this is a big problem - and can render to a sort of cheapness about Thor: Love and Thunder that never really goes away. That feels excusable in a movie like The Princess; that doesn't have a budget to pull off grand CGI - but when you're given the keys to the Marvel Kingdom; at least make sure the visuals do your film justice.

For better or worse, this feels like Taika Waititi bringing more of what he does best to the table. It's more of his flaws too - the louder and shoutier this movie gets; the weaker it becomes, with downright ugly action scenes and for a comedy - the jokes just flat out aren't funny (the characters that worked well when deployed with small amounts of screentime previously - Korg, and Matt Damon's Asgardian actor - have their scenes dragged out to the point where they've clearly overstayed their welcome long before the credits roll). This is a romcom that has no heart or soul - and lacks the human connection; or any sense of chemistry between Portman and Hemsworth, that the movie needs to sell its principle theme.

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