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thor: love and thunder

★★★★

starring: chris hemsworth, natalie portman, tessa thompson, and christian bale

REVIEWER: lyall carter

Thor enlists the help of Valkyrie, Korg and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster to fight Gorr the God Butcher, who intends to make the gods extinct.

Thor: Love and Thunder finds Thor (Chris Hemsworth) on a journey unlike anything he’s ever faced – a search for self-discovery. But his retirement is interrupted by a galactic killer known as Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who seeks the extinction of the gods. To combat the threat, Thor enlists the help of King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Taika Waititi) and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who –to Thor’s surprise – inexplicably wields his magical hammer, Mjolnir, as the Mighty Thor. Together, they embark upon a harrowing cosmic adventure to uncover the mystery of the God Butcher’s vengeance and stop him before it’s too late.

 

Returning after his cinematic reinvention in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, Love and Thunder picks up tonally where Ragnarok left off and character wise where we left Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy at the end of Avengers: Endgame. Just like its predecessor, Love and Thunder is a breath of fresh air in the MCU with its breezy and at times bonkers sense of humor, its grand cinematic scale, and beating heart at the center of it all. Also, for those who are wondering, there are two end credit scenes. YOU NEED TO STAY FOR BOTH. SERIOUSLY.

 

Director Taika Waititi plays to his strengths here once again. He manages to squeeze humor out of nearly every situation from the more bizarre like screaming giant goats and a delightfully unhinged Zeus (played to perfection by Russell Crowe) or the more intimate and climatic moments (don’t worry - no spoilers). While Waititi plays on such a large cinematic canvas here with stunning set pieces, gloriously rendered worlds, and divinely intricate cities, the humanity of the characters is never lost and is always at the very heart of the film. 

 

The character development, especially of Thor and Jane Foster, runs deep here with Waititi packing in a lot in a shorter than normal MCU run time of two hours. Portman's Foster is given much more to do here and her character arc is not only surprising but meatier than her previous MCU appearances. While of course there are no spoilers, prepare yourself for a couple of emotional gut punches along the way. 

 

Christian Bale’s villainous entry into the MCU as Gorr the God Butcher is one of the most memorable since Jordan’s Killmonger in 2018’s Black Panther. Bale is truly menacing, sneering and snarling through blackened teeth as he uses shadows to do his evil bidding. Imagine a real life Hades from Disney's Hercules - only a hell of a lot meaner. Bale manages, in a short amount of screen time, to not only give Gorr a humanity but a compelling and somewhat justifiable reason for why he has set off on this villainous path.

Just like its predecessor, Thor: Love and Thunder is a breath of fresh air in the MCU with its breezy and at times bonkers sense of humor, its grand cinematic scale, and beating heart at the center of it all. Taika has smashed it out of the park.

★★★