Review for Thor: Love and Thunder
With Thor: Love and Thunder, I’m finally caught up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe on Blu-ray. That’s a good chunk of some thirty films that I’ve blitzed my way through in 2022. A couple of years ago, I did much the same thing with the Bond movies. I guess I need another long running film franchise to obsess about. The problem is that the only series I can think of with a similar number of entries is the Carry On series and it turns out that my enthusiasm for shiny discs full of entertainment actually has limits. Besides the Thor movies of late have more than their fair share of comedy, although the fan response to Love and Thunder has actually made me procrastinate when it comes to watching it. It might just be that lightning didn’t strike twice for Taika Waititi.
You might think that being a god would be a cushy number, being worshipped by throngs, and universal adulation. But the last thing that a god should do is betray a worshipper. It was worse than that for Gorr, last of his people, who was belittled and abused by his god when he expected to be taken to the Promised Land. He lost his faith, and renounced his god, and was about to be summarily killed for his affront, when the Necro Sword came to him, the one weapon that could kill a god. And thereafter, he swore to hunt down and kill all the gods that have the temerity to play with mortal lives. But rather than kill them one by one, there is a way to get rid of all of the gods at one time, but the secret lies in Asgard.
The events of the Infinity War, coupled with his break up with Jane Foster have led Thor into living a hermit like existence, travelling with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and occasionally being coaxed into hero-ing. But when he learns that Asgard is threatened, he returns to Earth, only to find that there is a ‘new’ Thor wielding Mjolnir. None other than Jane Foster is the Mighty Thor, but even fighting alongside her, they are unable to prevent Gorr the God Butcher from kidnapping the children of Asgard.
Thor: Love and Thunder gets a 2.39:1 widescreen 1080 transfer, with the choice of DTS-HD MA 7.1 Surround English, DD 2.0 English Audio Descriptive, Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 Surround French and German, with subtitles in these languages and Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish. No nits to pick with this transfer either, clear and sharp with strong and consistent colours, and no signs of compression, while the audio is nice, immersive, and impactful when the action demands it. As you might guess, at this point it’s another CG heavy film, but it doesn’t overpower the characters or the drama. There’s also some excellent use of 80s guitar rock, with a nice level of Guns and Roses.
You get one disc in a thin BD Amaray style case. The disc boots to a static menu, and you’ll find the following extra features.
Hammer-Worthy: Thor and the Mighty Thor (5:36)
Shaping a Villain (6:11)
Another Classic Taika Adventure (7:53)
Gag Reel (2:45)
Deleted Scenes x4 (7:45)
Audio Commentary with director/writer Taika Waititi
Thor hasn’t had the easiest of rides when it comes to the MCU films about the character. The first film was fun, but a little lacking in spark, while the second film, The Dark World was downright dismal. By that point, the character was a lot more colourful in the Avengers movies, teamed up with Earth’s protectors, and a lot more appealing as a fish-out-of-water goofball. So when it came to the third Thor movie, Ragnarok, director Taika Waititi capitalised on that aspect of the character to deliver a Thor movie that transcended the first two. It’s no surprise then that the director returned for the fourth film to recapture that magic. But it seems that fans didn’t appreciate the approach as much this time, and the reception to Love and Thunder hasn’t been as favourable. Certainly, watching it last night, it did seem as if the character had achieved max goofball, and indeed on occasion surpassed it to venture into parody territory.
Having said all of that however, I still enjoyed the hell out of Thor: Love and Thunder, had a whale of a time watching it, laughing and thrilled in equal measure. I’ll even go as far as venturing that it delivered just as well as Ragnarok did, which itself had a few moments that pushed the envelope of the MCU when it comes to comedy and parody. I’ll admit that there were moments in the film that might jar someone out of their suspension of disbelief, the jealous weapons, the screaming goats, Russell Crowe’s Stavros accent as Zeus, although I doubt as many people will be affected by the parallels I saw in the start of this movie and the start of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
At the heart of the film is a really good story though, about loss and grief, and how people deal with it. Naturally, with this being a comic book movie, this results in grand, theatrical expressions, and Gorr, motivated by the loss of his daughter, his people, and ultimately his faith, reacts in the most extreme way possible, revenge against those that caused his pain. That they happen to be the gods themselves, makes for the ultimate in vengeance, even if he winds up cursed by the very weapon that can kill the gods. I think Christian Bale must have been channelling Dark Knight co-star Heath Ledger with the way that he created Gorr; a grotesque shadow of a villain, charismatic and horrifying, and also easy for the audience to relate to given what motivates him.
On the flipside, Jane Foster is motivated by loss to pick up Mjolnir and don the mantle of The Mighty Thor, a loss which Thor himself will ultimately have to contend with. The potential is there for Thor and Gorr to become mirror images of one another, all of which leads naturally to the film’s conclusion. It’s a whole lot of fun along the way too, with the usual consternation that occurs when a protagonist runs into the ex, compounded by the ex now doing the job that he used to do, and apparently doing it better as well.
Taika Waititi knows that Thor is a character that works best when you don’t take him too seriously. Just as in Thor Ragnarok, that’s what he does in Love and Thunder, and it makes for an entertaining ride. But he also finds a way to blend tragedy with the comedy to keep the viewers invested in the characters and the journey they go on. It’s true that some of the comic elements get pushed far enough to feel like self-parody, but for me, these moments were never enough to detract from the film, and I have to say that Love and Thunder is on a par with Ragnarok for me. And once again, Disney come up with a competently authored Blu-ray, although the extra features feel more meagre with each new film in the MCU series.