Our Favorite God Of Thunder’s Electric Appeal Begins To Fizzle In The Hero’s Fourth-Outing
Waititi Fails To Recapture The Magic And Wit That Made Ragnarok So Special With Thor: Love and Thunder
With releases anticipated all over the world and billions of dollars underneath their belt, the MCU has quickly become a prominent tentpole for the film industry, providing reimagined iterations of beloved heroes such as Spider-Man and Captain America while also introducing now-beloved interpretations of lesser-known characters. So it goes without saying that after fourteen years filled with carefully-placed setups among a universe bigger than we once thought, we would be done with any meandering exposition and mindless filler, right?
Taika Waititi believes otherwise.
When Waititi took the franchise over in 2017 with Ragnorak, he revitalized the well-worn hero with the director’s own distinct style of absurdist comedy, something that was new and refreshing for the usually stoic and serious-minded God of Thunder. It was a charming combination that could have easily failed but ultimately didn’t. Waititi found a born-comedian within Hemsworth with the towering, 6’3″ leading man playing the titular hero as more of a naive teddy bear than an actual God. Even as it burst with energy and spirit, the film succeeded primarily within its restraint, finding the perfect balance of off-the-wall humor with elaborate action setpieces. Waititi and co knew when to hold a joke, and they damn sure knew when to tell one.
With Love and Thunder, no joke was left out.
Doesn’t sound too bad coming from the guys who made Raganorak, right?
Thing is…none of it was funny.
Love and Thunder finds Thor shortly after the events of Endgame, fighting alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy for cheap pay. But the dejected (and DEEPLY obese) Thor we last saw is gone. A pluckier, more ripped (if that was somehow even possible) version now in his place. It’s a stark transition for a character we last saw at his lowest point, just coming off the heels of the deaths of his brother and fellow Avengers. This jolting pace of character comes off as nothing more than sloppy, as if Waititi couldn’t figure out anything to do with the character’s darker side, opting to sweep all of what came before under the rug to start anew.
Waititi painfully fills in the gaps between his film and Endgame with an over-used narration, using his own character to spoon-feed the audience where Thor is at the beginning of the movie. After Waitit’s forced display of vanity, we’re treated to the typical introductory action set piece (which is as dull as it is ugly). Shortly after, Thor, Korg unfortunately still by his side, is left behind by the Guardians, being encouraged by Star-Lord (an incredibly underutilized Chris Pratt) to go find himself.
From here on out, the film limps forward from set piece to set piece, somehow leaving every crucial plot point like Jane Foster’s sudden reappearance (the return of a painfully unfunny Natalie Portman) feeling underdeveloped and underused. Even our main antagonist, Gorr the God Butch (the always-committed Christian Bale turning in the film’s only good performance), weaves in and out of the story with unclear motivations, like a side villain in a video game whose sole purpose is to wreak havoc and ensure chaos. It’s a stark contrast to Waititi’s last efforts with an Oscar Winner. But where Blanchett revealed in the material offered to her, Bale just simply doesn’t have enough to work with. But Bale isn’t the only wasted talent on the roster. As the film drags on, we’re greeted with a plethora of pointless cameos that offer little to no appeal, wasting the talents of a Zeus-themed Russell Crowe and an uncharacteristically unfunny Matt Damon (guess everyone’s jumping on this money train nowadays, huh?)
The film finally makes it to its only redeeming quality, what may perhaps be the most imaginative and visually-stunning fight in the MCU to date. With an eye-popping, monochromatic black and white background, Waititi makes his heroes pop with light flashes of color as they hack and slash through their adversaries, resulting in a fight entirely redolent of that of a comic book. The sequence was invigorating, equally brutal, and compelling. THIS was what we needed in a Thor movie, what we needed from Waititi in his second outing with the hero. After an excruciatingly long hour and a half, we finally got what we wanted, and goddamn was it brilliant.
But alas, all good things must come to an end.
Immediately after the fight with Gorr, we’re thrown right back into the mediocrity that came before. And we stay right there…all the way until the credits. If nothing else, Love and Thunder was the victim of overwhelmingly high expectations. With Waititi behind the camera again following one of the last remaining original Avengers, what could go wrong? Unfortunately, everything. From painfully unfunny quips and jokes to half-baked side characters, Love and Thunder further proves that Feige might not know where to take his beloved universe next now that, as Christian Bale perfectly put it, “ole bloke” Thanos is out of the way.