We’re smack dab in the middle of MCU’s Phase 4 and things are getting weird. Thor: Love and Thunder is no exception to this trend as it takes us on a hilarious, oftentimes bizarre ride — complete with an 80s rock soundtrack. Is it worth a trip to the cinema? Read on for our ~*spoiler-free*~ review.
A journey of self-discovery
Thor has been through a lot since he made his MCU debut over a decade ago. After losing his One Great Love (more on that later), family members, and his home, he’s gone from a hermit-like existence fueled by video games and junk food to an interplanetary ass-kicking tour with the Guardians of the Galaxy.
But after learning that someone has been slaughtering gods all over the universe, he and the Guardians part ways, and he suddenly comes face to face with his past. Enter: his old flame, Jane Foster.
The return of Jane
One of the film’s biggest draws is the return of Natalie Portman as Jane Foster. It’s rumored that Portman’s MCU exit was due to director Patty Jenkins being fired from Thor: The Dark World — something that Portman was displeased with (allegedly).
When Portman didn’t come back for Thor 3, most fans thought that would be the end of Portman in the MCU. So naturally, the internet went bonkers when she went on stage at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con wielding Thor’s hammer.
It’s easy to see why Love and Thunder would pull Portman back in. After all, who can say no to playing the Mighty Thor?
“I was especially grateful to everyone’s imagination to cast a five-three actress in a six-foot role,” Portman said during a press junket before the premiere. “I think that takes a real leap of possibility in your mind and probably not something I will, you know, get the opportunity to do, to be imagined as, by any other group.”
The Mighty Thor, Dr. Jane Foster
When ex-girlfriend Jane Foster reenters Thor’s life — brandishing his beloved hammer Mjolnir, at that — he is forced to finally process his emotions in a healthy way.
Yes guys, we finally get to find out what happened before Jane Foster unceremoniously disappeared from the franchise in Ragnarok. We won’t get into it here (because spoilers), but we can confirm that the chemistry between Jane and Thor is still there. It’s good to have Jane back.
Christian Bale is terrifying
Christian Bale’s performance as Gorr is campy but fantastic; one of the better antagonists we’ve had in the MCU, in fact. However, his portrayal of the God Butcher makes it difficult to recommend bringing young kids to see this movie. The film does make an effort to appeal to children, but Bale is too damn scary. (When we watched the special screening of the film, some kids had to wait outside because it was too much for them.)
Its place in Phase 4
Though Love and Thunder lands squarely in the middle of Phase 4, it doesn’t seem to make a significant dent in the big picture of the MCU. Unlike the previous MCU entry (Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness), Love and Thunder zooms in on Thor’s story so that it can stand alone. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but fans who want to see Phase 4 move forward may be a tad disappointed.
Taika Waititi has made the MCU’s most ridiculous film
With Love and Thunder, Taika Waititi has made the most ridiculous film in the MCU so far. Featuring screaming goats, psychedelic visuals, and an 80s rock soundtrack, the film is an audiovisual delight. But does it make sense? Not really.
We can’t deny that the 80s rock motif is fun, but there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason behind the choice. During the press junket, Waititi explained that it was simply an aesthetic that he just wanted to play around with.
“It’s always been a dream of mine,” said Waititi. “The whole aesthetic around the film was always we wanted it to be this bombastic, loud, colorful palette, which kind of reflected, like, spray-painted panel vans in the 80s and rock album covers. And, even the title treatment, you know, for the film, it’s the kind of thing I would’ve drawn on my school book in class when I wasn’t listening.”
But is it too much Taika?
It was clear from the very first Thor movie in 2011 that Chris Hemsworth has fantastic comedic chops, but it wasn’t until Taika Waititi took the helm in Thor: Ragnarok that the movies really leaned into it, playing into Hemsworth’s strengths.
“[Waititi] brought out the immature, young, adolescent quality that I embody,” said Hemsworth. “And so does Thor now, which he didn’t in the original films, which was exciting and new and fresh.”
The movie turns up the Taika-ness up to 11, at times feeling excessive or unnecessary, overly concerned with making quips so that the more serious moments seem out of place. There are obvious efforts to create emotional weight, but they fall short. While Ragnarok and the similarly comedic Guardians of the Galaxy (1 and 2) were able to find some balance between heart and hilarity, Love and Thunder turns Thor into a caricature — a lovable numbskull who just happens to be the god of thunder.
However, fans of What We Do in the Shadows and Waititi’s most recent work Our Flag Means Death should thoroughly enjoy this movie.
(We might have to expect more of Waititi in Thor 5, since Hemsworth himself said that he wouldn’t have come back if it weren’t for the presence of the Kiwi director at the helm.)
What’s next for Thor?
Is this the best Thor movie so far? No, but it’s still an entertaining watch. If you’re looking for a lighthearted film with amazing visuals, a terrific baddie, and tons of laughs (the film boasts multiple spit-take-worthy celebrity cameos), then make a beeline for your nearest cinema.
Don’t forget to stay for the two post-credits scenes to get a glimpse of what might come next for Thor. Love and Thunder premieres in the Philippines on July 6.