Plot: What’s it about?
Thor will never be my favorite superhero, but he has sort of grown on me over the MCU films. I do still think he works best as part of the bigger picture (as seen in many of the Avengers films), but his solo outings have always gotten better for me as they’ve gone on. The last solo out, 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok not only brought in a new director in Taika Waititi, but also added some comedy to the proceedings. The previous two chapters had a more serious tone, so it was nice to see it embrace a lighter tone. That carries over even more so with Thor: Love and Thunder. Already a big bit at the box office, the film is certainly more divisive among fans, especially when compared to the previous chapter which was widely loved by many. I fall somewhere in the middle, but for me, too much of Love and Thunder simply feels slight and insignificant. Sure, some there are some big reveals and emotional beats, but it just didn’t connect me with in the way Ragnarok did. Let’s look at what we can expect.
In the film’s opening moments, we meet Gor (Christian Bale) and his daughter as the two are struggling in a barren desert. His daughter’s name is Love, and despite Gor praying for her, she dies. As Gor meets their God named Rapu, he dismisses Gor’s plead for help, instead telling him that essentially his purpose is none other than to serve the Gods then die. There is a necrosword in which Gor can obtain and then swear to kill off all other Gods. We then cut to Thor who is still with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and he learns of Gor and what he attempts to do. Before long, Thor decides to part ways with the Guardians and stop Gor. Returning for this film is Natalie Portman as Jane Foster. She is the love interest of Thor, and it shouldn’t come as a spoiler that she is Might Thor in this film. More is revealed about what she is going through, but I will leave that element out of this review. What I can tell you is that this is certainly a busy film, filled with many characters, some new and some old with plenty of action and some emotional scenes. We get Zeus played by Russel Crowe (in a silly performance), some screaming goats (they show up sporadically and are equally amusing and annoying) and a few others. Word is that there was quite a bit cut out of the film. I can tell by the finished product as it can feel a bit rushed much of the time. How essential this cut footage is remains to be seen, but the final film would’ve probably benefited from a bit more. The pacing was hardly an issue, but a bit more substance would’ve been nice.
There’s a lot of good here, but for some reason the film left me feeling rather cold. Bale tries as the villain and does a decent job, but I didn’t feel he was the most interesting villain. He is at least empathic for what he’s gone through, but his arc didn’t do a lot for me. The action is there but feels formulaic. We also get plenty of songs by Guns N’Roses. I enjoy the band, but 4 songs by them is a bit much. Much of the film feels as if it’s catering simply to the fans. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing but taking a few more risks or mixing things up a bit would’ve been nice. As it stands, I feel this falls right in the middle with the MCU films. Hardly the best, but also far from the worst.
The Bottom Line
With more in line with the previous chapter than the first two solo Thor films, Love and Thunder takes the serious a few steps back. I appreciate that it adds some emotional beats and attempts to have a sympathetic villain, but too much of the film feels slight and insignificant. It simply feels like filler. It is far from a bad film, perse, but I was expecting more. I think if there is another solo film that they need to shake up the formula a bit. As always, stay past the credits as there are two bonus scenes.