In our previous chapter with Thor the Space Viking, director Taika Waititi (mercifully) unleashed Chris Hemsworth’s untapped comedy skills, reviving the dullest Marvel series with probably the weirdest, and therefore one of the most surprisingly delightful chapter of the ten beeeeellion Marvel movies, Thor: Ragnarok. Now, with Thor: Love and Thunder, the quirk has been amped up to 11. It’s not that it isn’t funny (it is), but the non-stop quips and ironic smirks become simply exhausting, especially when awkwardly smooshed together with some truly tragic subplots. But I’ll get to that in a second…
Love and Thunder opens with a stark sequence that hints at things to come (in more ways than one). A man cradles his dying child in the desert, pleading to his god for mercy. (As this man is played by Christian Bale, he acts the hell out of this moment… your eyes might leak a little, just saying.) But when the child dies, and the man comes face to face with his beloved god… the god CRACKS JOKES? And keeps doing so! Needless to say, the poor man’s fury at this summons the Necrosword, giving the man the universe-altering ability to slay gods. We quickly learn that gods bleed gold, and the man with a vengeance becomes Gorr the God Butcher.
But, so much for darkness! Thor, as we learn through quirky narration by Korg (Taika Waititi), has been hanging out with the Guardians of the Galaxy, who show up just long enough for a battle sequence that adds nothing to the film except more names in the credits. Meanwhile Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) is now King Valkyrie of New Asgard, a Nordic-themed tourist town that houses the remaining Asgardians. When the idyllic town is shook by the entrance of Gorr the God Butcher, Thor and Valkyrie snap to attention, along with… another Thor. What?
Remember Thor’s kinda dull ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman)? Now, she is also Thor, in name and power… after all, that is Thor’s previously-destroyed hammer Mjölnir in her hand. Man-Thor can’t believe it, seeing not only his ex-love, but his ex-weapon in her hand. It’s not that he doesn’t love his axe Stormbreaker, but.… Anyway, Jane now kicks ass and has long flowing hair with blonde highlights. We learn, though, the highlights and the god-like strength are temporary blessings. Jane is dying of cancer, and while Mjölnir is temporarily boosting her strength, it is also causing her remaining health to deteriorate. See? Again, nothing like a fun subplot of a woman dying of cancer in a comedy.
When Gorr the God Butcher (it’s just fun to say his whole name) steals all the Asgardian children and whisks them away to a dark rock in the middle of space, it is up to Thor, Valkyrie, Jane, and the rocky sidekick Korg to race a rainbow off in the universe to save them (and the fate of all gods). Because no one wants to see children in a cage with a creepy jailer, right? (Crickets)
In comedy, you don’t want to wear out a good joke. Like Thor’s spaceship (literally a flying Viking ship) is pulled by giant screaming goats. Yes, screaming goats (remember the meme a few years ago?). It is funny the first time they scream, and the second time. But they scream every time they are on screen, which is more than you’d think. Another example: When our heroes seek the help of Zeus (gluttonous Russell Crowe with an odd Greek/Italian accent), the first time the ultimate god mentions an orgy, it lands with shock and glee. But man, orgy orgy orgy. Is that what made this PG-13, along with the godly, appreciated glimpse of Hemsworth’s honey-baked ham hocks? Finally, I’ll just say that too much Guns N’ Roses is, well, too much Guns N’ Roses. (Thank goodness it was briefly broken up by an inspired choice of ABBA singing “Our Last Summer” over a corny flashback sequence.)
I didn’t hate Thor: Love and Thunder, but it felt like a bunch of smirky short superhero films spliced together into a feature length. That is, fun films spliced together with scenes of cancer, children in cages, and a dead kid buried in the desert thrown in the mix. You get the gist. Let’s admit it, if you have seen all the other 28 Marvel movies, you’ll be seeing this anyway. You’ll probably have fun. Now let me go cleanse my palate with a quiet indie drama or something.