Thunder god Thor takes the honors in his fourth film. At his side: Jane Foster. Behind the camera: Taika Waititi. With these ingredients results THOR: LOVE & THUNDER a brightly colored, fun space road movie with a lot of potential lost along the way. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: Thor: Love & Thunder (AUS/USA 2022)
After the events surrounding Thanos’ big blip, the Avengers’ world-saving mission and Thor’s identity crisis, the God of Thunder is slowly coming back to the dam. He undergoes a radical fitness program and initially travels with the Guardians of the Galaxy before returning to New Asgard. During a villain attack, he unexpectedly meets his former love Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who suddenly wields his beloved hammer Mjölnir and wants to fight at Thor’s side. While Jane only gradually reveals the reasons for her return, she, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) travel across the galaxy to hunt down the villain Gorr (Christian Bale), who is no less than to kill all the gods in the universe…
Five years ago now, director Taika Waititi released (“Jojo Rabbit”) in the truest sense of the word, color into the MCU. His “Thor” solo film “Thor – Day of Decision”, the third for the thunder god, thrilled or irritated – depending on your point of view – as an over-the-top fantasy comedy and, primarily because of this, had to listen to a lot of criticism. Stylistically, the film is still one of the ones that stands out the most from all the contributions to the “Infinity Saga”. But what do you expect when you let someone like Waititi take the wheel? For the successor “Thor – Love and Thunder”, expectations are likely to be a little closer to what the film offers at the end. What’s more: this time the creatives are taking it upon themselves still establish more visual varieties still more whimsical characters and also bring an old acquaintance back into the boat (which in the film is pulled by oversized goats): Jane Foster, once the great love of Thor himself. But in particular, the clash between the exuberant variety of narrative and directorial ideas and the sometimes extremely serious concerns of the story does not always work, so that “Thor – Love and Thunder” does not fully exploit its potential.
Natalie Portman once again plays Jane Foster in Thor: Love & Thunder.
Even though we and many others out there really liked the last Marvel film, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” director Sam Raimi wasn’t yet creating it to the fullest. He was allowed to put his stamp on the project as much as he could, but for a “multiverse film” there was surprisingly little hopping through the different universes, so that a large part of the running time took place in a (at least futuristic) reality that was not at all so different from ours. Ironically, “Thor – Love and Thunder” delivers a much broader visual. From the opulently furnished state halls of the gods, which are vaguely reminiscent of “Gods of Egypt” and the omnipresent gold cladding almost burns in the eyes due to the bright lighting, another planet comes across in an elegant, high-contrast (almost) black and white, while the The tourist hotspot New Asgard, on the other hand, looks at first glance like an adventure Viking village from the here and now. In addition, the crew is occasionally out and about in the colorful galaxy itself. And so one wonders in retrospect why Raimi wasn’t allowed to show such variety in his film. In any case, “Thor – Love and Thunder” does all of this very well, because it helps the 125 minutes (which are not exactly generous in the MCU anyway) fly by.
“One wonders in retrospect why Sam Raimi wasn’t allowed to show such variety in ‘Doctor Strange 2’. “Thor – Love and Thunder” does all of that very well.”
On the other hand, some interpersonal conflicts do not benefit too much from this, because the background to Jane Foster’s return in particular remains only a side note in the narrative development and cannot therefore be used to its dramatic significance. Meanwhile, “Thor – Love and Thunder” is significantly stronger – who would have expected it otherwise given “Day of Decision” – in the fast-paced and humorous moments. Several montage sequences are among the highlights of the film. Including one that shows Thor’s workout preparations for his “return as a fighter” and another that quickly covers the course of the relationship and separation between Jane and Thor, which is achieved through the right selection of scenes and the choice of the far too unknown ABBA -Ballad “Our Last Summer” is very heartfelt. And unlike so many other detailed questions that are answered afterwards (such as how the “Star Wars” hero Han Solo actually got his name, which is explained rather clumsily in his prequel “Solo”), this sequence does not close any classic gaps – After all, the separation of the two was known – but only supported what one could imagine with concrete images. One the Highlights not only in “Thor 4”, but in all recent MCU adventures.
Christian Bale plays the villain Gorr and looks like he came from “Mad Max: Fury Road”.
For many, the role of Jane Foster was also included. And the return of the scientist and new heroin addict actually brings a lot of momentum to the “Thor” saga. The interaction between Natalie Portman (“Lucy in the Sky”) and Chris Hemsworth (“Bad Times at the El Royale”) is still very loving and passionate, although screenwriter Jennifer Kaytin Robinson (“Unpregnant”) It is made clear very early on that Jane’s appearance is not a general return to the MCU, but rather a one-off thing. “Probably more so,” because towards the end the film once again takes advantage of the fact that the multiverse theory has long since found its way into the MCU and one should have slowly understood that nothing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is long-lasting. And so it’s hard to believe that Natalie Portman won’t actually return in her role, which is all the more unfortunate when you see that her role in “Thor: Love and Thunder” is primarily designed as a plot driver. You almost wish she could come back again, simply because her character, one of the toughest, smartest and tenderest at Marvel, offers so much more than just being a follower like she is here.
“The interaction between Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth is still very loving and passionate, although screenwriter Jennifer Kaytin Robinson makes it clear early on that Jane’s appearance is not a general return to the MCU, but rather a one-off.”
Speaking of running: “Thor – Love and Thunder” sometimes feels like an intergalactic road movie and is sometimes unfocused in the choice of his goal. In addition to establishing the villain character Gorr (Christian Bale in “Mad Max: Fury Road” memorial suit) with his expedient but only rudimentarily formulated motivations, the hero:innen gets to deal with one or the other hurdle on their way to combating the same culminates in wild action scenes in keeping with the genre. However, they are not as powerful as the circumstances would allow. “Thor – Love and Thunder”, even more than all of its three predecessors, seems far too artificial for that and the CGI is not always as authentic as one is used to from the better MCU film productions. The more reduced the setting and what happens on the screen, the better “Thor – Love and Thunder” looks. And best of all when Taika Waititi largely dispenses with color, so that one almost wishes for a variant in exclusively this aesthetic, as they already received “Mad Max: Fury Road”, “Logan” or “Parasite”.
At the beginning of the film, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is on a search for meaning.
In the end, what remains is the look at Thor himself, which Chris Hemsworth is allowed to create in “Love and Thunder” in a more complex way than ever before. While he was by far the most tragic character in “Avengers: Endgame” (although his appearance at first glance indicated comic relief intentions), his character development and regained belief in himself and his powers runs like a red thread through the film. It’s kinda silly when he talks to his (now ex) hammer Mjolnir like an ex-girlfriend who his new weapon, the Stormbreaker ax, also seems to be jealous of (a very moderately used running gag that works perfectly). ), but then again very touching. Especially the scenes with Jane are pervaded by a gentle melancholy, when it is gradually shown that the progress of his great love has contributed to Thor’s character change in an essential way. That’s exactly what Waititi and his team could have exploited a lot more instead of concentrating primarily on the humor. One of the best MCU films of the current phase is hidden in “Thor – Love and Thunder”, which unfortunately is never allowed to reach its full size due to its erratic narrative and staging.
Conclusion: “Thor: Love and Thunder” is more of what “Thor: Day of Decision” was and still claims to be a touching character drama and a (near) romance. First and foremost, however, the film is an intergalactic action road movie that is once again well acted but not entirely satisfactorily staged. The grossly artificial look prevents the action from feeling massive and the big, tragic aspect of the story takes a backseat to the undeniably well-done humor. All in all, a very solid affair full of wasted potential.
“Thor: Love & Thunder” can be seen in USA cinemas from July 6, 2022.