Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) ☆☆1/2(2.5/4): Man, Woman, and Metal

“Thor: Love and Thunder”, the latest offering from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), does not surprise or impress me enough. While there are a number of inspired comic moments, the movie still feels like a passable mixed bag on the whole as trying a bit too many things together within 2 hours, and even the game efforts from its colorful main cast members cannot compensate for its weak aspects. 

After the prologue scene involved with the origin of its main villain, the movie shows and tells us about how things have been rather dissatisfying for Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth) since he joined the Guardians of the Galaxy after what happened in “Avengers: Endgame” (2019). While he is ready to function as the ace in the hole whenever the Guardians of the Galaxy need extra help, Thor feels rather bored and discontent, so, when there comes an imminent galactic threat toward all the gods in the universe, he instantly decides to take care of this matter along with his goofy rocky colleague Korg (voiced by director/co-writer Taika Waititi, who did a nice job of functioning as the main comic relief of the story). 

When Thor and Korg later arrive in a certain region in the Earth where Thor’s fellow Asgardians have resided since what happened in “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017), the main villain of the story, who is grimly and intensely played by Christian Bale, has already unleashed his terrifying power upon the Asgardians, and we accordingly get one of the main action sequences in the film as Thor fights against a bunch of big and hideous creatures along with many other Asgardians including Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson). Although this sequence is technically competent, my interest was quickly decreased as bored with those bland CGI creatures, and that was why I was delighted by Thor’s unexpected encounter with his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who looks quite different now as holding what once belonged to him.

We are not that surprised because the movie already showed us what happened to Jane after she broke up with Thor not long before “Thor: Ragnarok”. While she kept working during next several years without much regret, she suddenly found herself becoming a terminally ill patient, and then, after one coincidental moment, she decided to take a chance with that shattered hammer of Thor. As a result, she was transformed into “the Mighty Thor”, and she certainly impresses Thor and other Asgardians a lot as deftly wielding that hammer in the middle of their urgent battle.

When it belatedly turns out that the villain’s attack is a mere diversion for the next step of his diabolical plan, Thor, Jane, Gorg, and Valkyrie leave for a certain hidden place somewhere in the universe for getting some extra help from a powerful god ruling over the place, and the movie has some naughty fun as Thor and Jane try to sort out a rather complicated circumstance among them and their respective weapons. Although he is happy to see Jane again, he does not know how to process her considerable change, and his eyes also keep being drawn to his old hammer, while his current weapon seems to be not so pleased about that.

Anyway, the movie provides more fun and amusement when our four main characters eventually arrive at their destination. They soon come into a big meeting attended by many various gods, and then there comes Zeus (Russell Crowe), who is, of course, that certain powerful god who could help them via his awesome weapon. As already shown from the trailer, Crowe has a ball with playing his character as broadly as possible, and we surely get some good laughs from his deliberately hammy performance.

Compared to these and other entertaining comic moments in the first half of the film, the second half is relatively less entertaining as the mood eventually becomes as serious as required. The movie does not disappoint us during its eventual climactic part, and there are several good moments of poignancy including the one involved with Jane’s critical medical condition, but these moments somehow do not gel together well enough to generate enough narrative momentum for the story and characters. Above all, what is being at stake for our main characters does not feel that serious to us because we have seen how things have been often changed or reversed throughout numerous MCU flicks during last 14 years. 

At least, the main cast members of the film are entertaining to watch on the whole. Besides steadily carrying the film as required, Chris Hemsworth occasionally shows fine comic skills as he previous did in “Thor: Ragnarok”, and Natalie Portman is much more exciting compared to how she was regrettably wasted in “Thor” (2011) and the following 2013 sequel. Although she holds her place well around Hemsworth and Portman, but I wish the movie allowed Tessa Thompson to have more fun with her character, and the same thing can be said about Christian Bale, who still manages to balance his villain character well between a twisted sense of humor and an ample amount of pathos.

Despite its fair share of entertainment, I still think “Thor: Love and Thunder” could done better, so I put it below “Thor: Ragnarok”, which is still the most entertaining one in the bunch. Because I gave three stars to “Thor: Ragnarok” while giving two stars to the first two Thor movies, I give 2.5 stars to “Thor: Love and Thunder”, but I will not stop you from watching it if you have been less tired of that increasingly irksome homogeneity of many MCU flicks out there.

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