Thor: Love and Thunder is the latest installment in the Thor franchise and most recent addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film follows Norse God of Thunder, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) who has been on many adventures with the Guardians of the Galaxy. When it transpires that Gods across the universe are being slaughtered by Gorr, the God Butcher (Christian Bale), Thor must return to New Asgard with Korg (Taika Waititi) and team up with Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who has bonded with Thor’s old hammer, Mjolnir, and becomes the Mighty Thor in the hopes of stopping Gorr from completing his quest.
The film is directed by Taika Waititi who cowrote the script with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson. Whereas Thor: Ragnarok leaned more heavily on its use of humour to mark a change in tone for the Thor franchise, it seems that Waititi wanted to incorporate a more serious undertone with the film’s discussions on loss of faith and loss of love and grief. However, if seems that Waititi and Robinson struggled at parts to get a balanced tone in certain parts as there were moments of sincerity that were undercut with humour and it didn’t quite land in the way it was meant to. These moments tended to be when Jane was discussing her illness with Thor. The writing in the opening sequence with Gorr felt overly explained and it would have had a stronger impact if every stage of Gorr’s plan wasn’t whispered to him as the audience can put the pieces together of what his intentions are at this point in time. That being said, the final act of the film was among the best that Marvel has to offer as Waititi and Robinson weren’t afraid to confront darker and sadder themes.
Chris Hemsworth is fantastic as usual in the leading role of Thor, continuing to showcase the funnier side of the God of Thunder that Waititi introduced us to in the previous installment, Thor: Ragnarok. Despite the tonal misbalance in the writing, Hemsworth does an excellent job of leading the film, while also proving his ability to balance comical and dramatic acting. His scenes with Jane are filled with inner emotional conflict that he refuses to admit, but as the film progresses, his vulnerability begins to show. It’s clear that despite all the success that Thor has and how much he has achieved, not having Jane in his life has taken its emotional toll on him.
Natalie Portman’s performance is heartbreaking as Jane is revealed to be terminally ill. As her body us unable to fight against the cancer, Jane turns away from science and looks to magic in the hope that it will save her life. She is called by Mjolnir, Thor’s old hammer, and becomes Mighty Thor. While Jane was arguably wasted in previous Thor films, especially, Thor: The Dark World, Thor: Love and Thunder makes the most of Portman’s exceptional talent. She is able to weave in traces of her own personality and passions, including lines that reference Jane’s strength as a woman and her achievements as a woman in science. Thor: Love and Thunder works as an ode to Jane’s character and makes complete use of Portman’s abilities.
Christian Bale is the film’s scene stealer as Gorr the God Butcher. Following his daughter’s demise in the film’s opening scene, Gorr becomes disillusioned with the concept of Gods and their duty to provide salvation for their followers. He is chosen by the Necrosword and vows to kill all Gods with the weapon. The way that Gorr is portrayed and written into the film is unlike the majority of Marvel villains. We truly get to see Gorr’s perspective as his frail and starving demeanor is transformed into a monster that is almost ghostly as he makes his way across the universe, slaying Gods. Another reason that Gorr is an intriguing character is that his reasoning for killing Gods is actually justified. He and his community have committed their lives to serving Gods that simply do not care for their devotees. His quest for justice is by no means right, but it’s not entirely wrong either. Just as the Shadow Realm is portrayed, we venture into a grey area in terms of morality.
The cinematography provided by Barry Idoine is highly striking and makes Thor: Love and Thunder such a rollercoaster to watch. The vibrancy of the scenes in Omnipotent City where the remaining Gods reside contrasts beautifully with the darkness of the Shadow Realm where Gorr is residing. The scenes in the Shadow Realm may be stripped of colour, but the way Idoine angles and contrasts the darkness and light goes hand in hand with the film’s themes of right and wrong. As Thor, Mighty Thor and Valkyrie search for the children in the Shadow Realm, their weapons light the way and provide glimpses of colour on their clothes and skin, which is a very nice touch to show their limited power in this place.
While Thor: Love and Thunder may have moments of tonal misbalance and a script that doesn’t quite hit the same mark as predecessor, Thor: Ragnarok, it does a brilliant job of bringing in old and new characters, while also allowing Waititi to integrate his own signature quirkiness and humour into the mix. With plenty of appearances from a variety of characters including the Guardians of the Galaxy as well as a fantastic performance by Russell Crowe as Zeus, Thor: Love and Thunder is an entertaining watch that includes some brilliantly executed emotional moments as well as a stunning turn from Bale.
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Thor: Love and Thunder is available to watch in cinemas now!