After years of giving the best of enemies in battle, God of Thunder Thor undergoes a personal quest for inner peace. Unfortunately, his odyssey is soon torn apart by the sudden arrival of a god-killing entity and an even more terrifying presence; His one true love and ex-girlfriend, Jane Foster, in Thor: Love and Thunder.
Thor represents a fascinating presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As one of the few characters still standing from the first phase of the universe, the character endured years of change as the executive team tried to find the right perspective. Neither 2011’s Thor nor 2013’s Thor: The Dark World inspired much fanfare, but acclaimed writer/director Taika Waititi explored a fascinating avenue with 2017’s Thor Ragnarok.
Full of vibrant colors and Waititi’s distinctive comedic energy, Ragnarok rediscovers Thor as a man bursting with charisma and genuine weaknesses. The same creative team makes its long-awaited return with Thor: Love & Thunder, yet the once bright creative spark feels completely absent here. Love and Thunder travels on their ambitions in a bloated and conceptually underbaked sequel.
If you love Ragnarok, there’s still a good chance you’ll find joy in Love and Thunder. Waititi doubled down on his comedic sensibilities and lively imagination, while pushing his autobiographical sensibilities to new limits. On paper, I applaud Waititi and Marvel for embracing this level of autism. Allowing superheroes to come to life under the guidance of inspired directors is a better decision than embedding the same blah flavorings in every MCU movie.
Unfortunately for Love and Thunder, that level of open-ended creative control doesn’t pay off. Waititi and co-screenwriter Jennifer Katin Robinson pack the coming-of-age story of Thor into a dense narrative experience that rarely gets breathing room. As well as Thor’s quest for personal solace, Love and Thunder tries to create more elaborate backstories for Jane Foster, villainous god-killer Gore, and Thor’s friend King Valkyrie – all in less than two hours of narrative.
As you might guess, the narrative stems from its intense bombshell. The screenplay dances between ideas and character arcs without developing a concise identity, often unfolding as a series of vignettes lacking an original premise. Each character shares a symbolic connection in their quest for love and self-acceptance. Unfortunately, the frantic pacing turns most of those arcs into unfinished trips. There is some promise in the film’s efforts to adopt a more character-driven and emotionally vulnerable approach amid the superhero genre’s penchant for chaotic violence. Those sparks of vitality ultimately exist as the relic of what this film could have been with the proper focus.
The breathless plotting rests on melodramatic speeches and unintentional montages carrying the heavy lifting—a choice that coats every frame in a hackneyed sense of emotion. With half-hearted attempts to contemplate class divisions and inheritance, Love and Thunder unleashes a chaotic whirlwind of thoughts and feelings that merges itself into a weightless blur.
Even the elements that made Ragnarok a refreshing breath of fresh air feel noticeably absent here. Visually, the film moves from Ragnarok’s grand fantasy to a nightmare of night and day. There is no moment when a film looks like a grand blockbuster. Despite the film’s $250 million price tag, the cheaply integrated CGI backgrounds and unimaginative action setpieces are surprisingly common. Waititi’s movies generally look lively — it’s actually a bummer to see their usual visceral craft suffocating under the Marvel blockbuster train.
Other waity quirks struggle to gain traction, too. Ragnarok made a sharp comedic sound with his mix of self-referential one-liners and quirky setpieces. With Love and Thunder, eccentricity feels like an annoyance. Tired running gags and cheesy references populate the screen without portraying the genuine laughs that made Ragnarok so dynamic.
Love and Thunder takes some serious risks, but the experience comes with an oppressive feeling of fatigue. The film is over-stretched and underdeveloped as Waititi struggles to build on his solid foundation. Despite My Doubts, I Give Credit To Marvel’s Talents To Trust a typical filmmaker than running any other studio-assembled product.
Thor: Love and Thunder Now playing in cinemas.
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