Lost love and what might have been haunt many of us. The road not taken is a path about which we can only speculate. There are stories of people reconnecting after years of separation to rekindle old feelings of romance and passion, but they are few and far between. In this week’s movie, “Thor: Love and Thunder,” our title hero is given a second chance at love with his former lover Jane Foster. There are a few things standing in their way, such as a killer of gods and a terminal diagnosis, but that’s nothing the God of Thunder can’t handle…is it?
Gorr (Christian Bale) lives on an arid planet with this daughter Love (India Hemsworth). Crossing the desert wastes, praying to their god Rapu for rain, Love dies. Gorr hears a voice calling him to an oasis where he finds fresh water and fruit. He also finds Rapu (Jonny Brugh) surrounded by various servants. Rapu laughs at Gorr for thinking there’s an afterlife causing Gorr to curse him. Rapu grabs Gorr by the throat to kill him, but a sword appears in Gorr’s hand, and he slays Rapu. The weapon is a god killer called a Necrosword, allowing all who wield it manipulate shadows and create monsters from them, but infecting the carrier with impending death. Gorr vows to rid the universe of all gods. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is traveling with the Guardians of the Galaxy, going on adventures while also getting back in shape and dealing with the end of his relationship with astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), when he receives a distress signal from Sif (Jaimie Alexander) about Gorr killing all the gods he can find, with his next target being New Asgard. Thor arrives during Gorr’s attack when he sees his beloved and former hammer Mjolnir, last seen crushed to pieces by Hela, flying around destroying the shadow monsters. He calls it, but just before it comes to him, it changes directions and is caught by…Thor. It’s actually Lady Thor, a.k.a. Jane Foster. While being treated for Stage IV cancer, Jane heard Mjolnir calling to her. She goes to New Asgard and the hammer pieces reassembled, giving her the power of Thor. Together, Thor and Jane repel Gorr’s attack, but the villain kidnaps all the children of New Asgard. Thor, Jane and King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) join forces to retrieve the children and stop Gorr from achieving his goal, killing all gods throughout creation.
There’s a great deal more going on in the story, including screaming goats, Thor’s many romantic conquests, a visit to see Zeus (Russell Crowe) in Omnipotence City and a formerly beautiful crystal temple. All of those are mere garnishes to the main course that is the adventure of Thor’s battle with Gorr, and his rekindled love for Jane Foster. It all gets very busy with the various heavily CGI amplified locations/action scenes and the many thwarted plans to defeat Gorr and save the children. In many ways it’s the same Marvel movie we’ve seen before with a few slight tweaks and a bit more humor, thanks to director and screenwriter Taika Waititi and co-writer Jennifer Kaytin Robinson. I enjoyed the movie, but I’m beginning to lose the wonder of seeing costumed, superpowered heroes and universe-changing villains battle it out. Still, “Thor: Love and Thunder” manages to be an entertaining, if familiar, film.
Taika Waititi’s fingerprints are all over the film: From Thor’s uncomfortable conversations with Star Lord (Chris Pratt) to the personification of Thor’s ax Stormbreaker acting jealous of Mjolnir, Waititi’s comic touches are often a highlight of the movie. His vocal performance of Korg is also a comedic highlight. Korg is a sweet and simple softy, despite being made of stone. He gives Thor someone that makes Odinson look smart and crafty in comparison. The awkward interactions between Thor and Jane are also a refreshing change from the usual, and limited, romantic scenes in other MCU films. They both aren’t sure what to do and how to proceed. Jane is also dealing with a terminal cancer diagnosis and doesn’t know how or when to tell Thor. When it does happen, Waititi’s deft touch makes what could have been a melodramatic mess into a sweet, touching moment.
There are many appealing things about “Thor: Love and Thunder,” but the ending isn’t one of them. I’m not going to spoil what happens, but it makes the rest of the movie feel meaningless. It’s a too sentimental appeal to that in the viewers that will make them go “awwww.” It also portends a new duo coming to the MCU that, for me, is just too sickeningly sweet. I may be alone in this feeling, but “Thor: Love and Thunder” wastes what’s a perfectly good superhero action movie with an ending so sweet you may walk out of the theater needing insulin.
“Thor: Love and Thunder” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language, some suggestive material and partial nudity. There are numerous action scenes where aliens and shadow monsters are blown up, dismembered and stabbed in the head. A couple of human characters are also hurt in these scenes. We see one of the gods beheaded, but it isn’t gory. An alien creature is ripped in half. Gorr has sharpened teeth and black ooze coming from his mouth. There is discussion of an orgy in Omnipotence City. Thor is disrobed by Zeus and his backside is shown. Foul language is scattered and consists mostly of variations on “s**t.”
It’s little wonder the formula is wearing thin as this is the 29th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Unless there is another genre changing story in the pipeline, like “Infinity War” and “Endgame,” we may be reaching the beginning of the end for superhero movies, at least in the Marvel model. All the interconnectivity of the MCU was a strong selling point for me. Unlike the scattershot approach taken by DC and Warner Bros., each Marvel movie was part of a bigger whole, an ever-expanding story and universe where the events in one film made a difference in the later films. Now, there is so much lore to keep track of, I’m beginning to lose my passion for the next installment in the series. Comic books often reboot their universes when there’s too much history to keep track of, and maybe the (MCU) should follow the example of their print brothers.
By the way, “Thor: Love and Thunder” has a mid-credits scene and a post-credits scene. If you’re a completionist, you need to stay all the way until the end.
“Thor: Love and Thunder” gets four stars out of five.
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