THB #180: Thor: Love & Thunder (spoiler-free)
It’s a classic example of not being able to see the Thorest for the trees.
Actually, the photo here is pretty symbolic of the film. Mjölnir isn’t going to get to Thor’s hand here. He’s lost control of it. And as you can see, Mjölnir is still broken, but it is holding itself together. Kinda like the movie.
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I love Taika Waititi’s work. I was a huge fan of Thor: Ragnarok. Great cast. Couldn’t admire Christian Bale as an actor any more than I do.
But Thor: Love and Thunder is a Mad Magazine version of a Thor movie. Lots of funny ideas from lots of talented artists. We get Thor gags - and even moments of high drama - coming from every direction. But you can’t have an attention span of more than 5 minutes and still enjoy this as a coherent movie. But you can still enjoy the ride, smiling and laughing at the landmarks as you drive by it all at 20 miles over the speed limit.
First… let me disabuse you of thinking you are going to see much more of The Guardians of the Galaxy than you are seeing in ads. This is not like Ragnarok, where Hulk was a real and story-significant participant. This is a 6-being cameo in a Marvel moment where every movie has to have at least one more significant Marvel character than the title character.
The movie is - as you know from ads, so not a spoiler - on 2 tracks. One is Thor and Jane Foster and what that means. Two is Gorr, The God Killer, who hates The Gods with reason the film will explain. Both have a heavy dramatic element and they really don’t overlap, in term of the significance of the appearance of either, except for one fundamental connection that really isn’t dramatized.
There is, however, a weird overlap with the mess that is Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, in that both use the idea of the most powerful beings assuming there is no threat from the villain, turning the interesting set-up in both into somewhat irrelevant side hustles.
It seems that the current strategy at Marvel, before setting it all against Dormammu, is to nibble - albeit in giant CG fashion - until all the pieces for the non-Avenger Avengers-like group of heroes can establish themselves and have the big fight as a group, drawing billion-dollar-plus grosses.
The after-credits scenes in both Strange 2 and Thorwaititi 2 offer new characters to return in future films… or TV series… or both.
I can’t say Christian Bale is as brilliant as usual as Gorr simply because he doesn’t get to play the full range of the character. He has a full arc… but his journey is splitting time with Thor Jane and Thor, I’d say 60/40.
I actually like Russell Crowe’s Zeus, with his weird greek-ish accent, which will, with Tom Hanks’ Colonel Parker accent, make this The Summer of Weird Accents.
Natalie Portman gets to do more here than she has in previous Thor films… but again, in splitting the movie, her character’s journey here is not given enough time to be more than an action/Marvel cliche’.
Loved the cameos from earlier Thor co-stars, though one of them is barely even a cameo, showing up on an iPad.
Even King Valkyrie doesn’t quite get a complete character arc, though she is one of the leads. Where she is at emotionally is referred to and there are some good jokes about it, but like so much of the film, it feels like a pit-stop instead of part of the race.
All that said, I had a good time throughout the movie. There is a lot of fun stuff. And these are great actors. And Waititi is a great directorial and comedy force.
But would it make any real difference to the future of the MCU if this film didn’t exist? No. Not really.
It doesn’t even feel like a refreshing side trip, like Ragnarok did… like “what I did on my summer vacation by Thor.” It has such heavy moments that when we switch back to wacky beats within seconds, it just feels messy.
I’ll be happy to watch it again. I’ll laugh again. But having watched Strange-r again with my wife last night, I’m still waiting for Marvel to pull me back into a building story again. Loved Shang-Chi… but an origin movie and its own flavor. Eternals was not only painful in and of itself, but I feel no connection to a bigger Marvel story there. Both of these summer movies feel like treading water.
I’m willing to go with them. And I’m sure we will see strings come together more soon. But for me, each time it doesn’t, it’s now a step backwards.
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