“The only ones who gods care about… is themselves,” Christian Bale’s Gorr, The God Butcher says, with incorrect grammar. To many critics, this quote rings true of the movie as a whole: Taika Waititi’s newest movie equals pure self-indulgence.
But “Thor: Love and Thunder” is a masterpiece of visual and aural imagination. From its gorgeous tableaux-like fantasy settings to its costumes, colors and the skills of its actors, “Thunder” is a stunning adventure movie with an unrelenting pace once it picks up. “Thunder” provides an example for why the big screen has stuck, and should stick around.
“Love and Thunder” finds the Norse god of thunder Thor, played with a mastery of comical timing by Chris Hemsworth, once again reunited with his love interest from the first two movies, Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who is secretly suffering from stage-four cancer. While Thor rekindles his relationship with Foster, in her withered state granted with a power like that of Thor’s, Gorr –– arguably the highlight of the movie, with Bale’s performance more striking than his as Batman –– hunts an all-wise mystical being to grant him a wish: kill all of the gods.
Accompanied by a man made of rock named Korg (Waititi), and the goddess Valkyrie (the beautiful Tessa Thompson, in an LGBTQ+ role), Thor travels on an interstellar boat pulled by two large screaming goats to save Asgard, to slay Gorr, and to find out if he is meant for a long-term romantic relationship after all.
Shifting in tone from drama, to comedy, to romance, “Thunder” struggles at first to lock down either a good pace or rhythm. But after its long-winded cold open, with the incredibly creepy, hair-raising introduction of the demon Gorr, “Thunder” becomes an action-comedy ride of fantastical thrills.
With the last movie in the franchise, “Thor: Ragnarok,” Waititi, the Academy Award-winning director behind Hunt for the “Wilderpeople” and “JoJo Rabbit,” set not only a high bar for a sequel, but a high bar for the rest of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), thanks to its great pace, wonderful comedy, and biting story, let alone its performances, from actors like Jeff Goldblum and Mark Ruffalo (and Tom Hiddleston).
“Thunder” might be of slightly less focus, bouncing around from location to location more often than the last, but in my opinion, this is to its benefit, allowing Hemsworth and the cast to show off their chops before a variety of in-movie audiences.
“Thunder” acts as a great addition to not only the MCU, but to Thor’s yet-expanding hero’s journey (Thor will return, we are alerted). If you let thunder take you, it’ll make you laugh, and maybe cry, but it might also leave you in awe of Waititi’s imagination –– and maybe your own. 4 / 5.
Gavin King is a Marblehead High School graduate and a film major at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.