Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Tessa Thompson, m.fl.
July 6, 2022
«Taika Waititi has not completely lost its flair.»
Thor and Thor
But when an obsessed, disappointed vassal named Gorr (Christian Bale) gets hold of a mysterious sword that can kill gods and declares that all the gods of the cosmos must die, Thor is forced home to Ny Åsgård, the tourist town where the surviving aces and faces after ragnarok is located.
Here he meets his old flame, the physicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who has since been injured to fix Thor’s broken hammer Mjølner and take over his powers, in his quest to overcome a notch more worldly, but all the more deadly, enemy.
While both fight against their old feelings, Thor and the Mighty Thor (ie Jane) join forces with the stone creature Korg (Taika Waititi) and the Valkyrie Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) to get Zeus (Russell Crowe) himself to help them against Gorr . It’s not worse.
There was every reason to have high expectations for the fourth film about the Marvel universe’s version of the Norse thunder god (Chris Hemsworth). Although this branch of Marvel’s world tree has undergone some transformations along the way, from Kenneth Branagh’s first, relatively straightforward “godman on land” tale, via the identityless “Dark World” to the psychedelic buddy comedy “Ragnarok”, Thor has been one of the more lovable characters in Marvel’s eventually oversized cast.
First and foremost because the filmmakers, all from Branagh, have understood how comical and helpless this self-righteous superhero really is.
To let a high-ranking figure of God, who behaves as if everything is a cosmic battle of destiny fought between good and evil since the dawn of time, be allowed to grind on everyday problems and modern people who are not impressed by his pompous Shakespeare twists, is right and plain innmari fun.
Not least when put at the forefront via the combination of Hemsworth’s natural charisma and parodic god physics, and his ability to play Thor as both naive, sincere, arrogant, enthusiastic and not least stupid as a loaf of bread.
And when the stingy, New Zealand humor director Taika Waititi (“Flight of the Conchords”, “What We Do in the Shadows” got to frolic freely with the character in “Ragnarok”, all the pieces finally fell into place. The result was one of the best Marvel the movies to date, fun, colorful, different and genuine.
But when the gang is now reunited in “Love and Thunder”, much of the magic is unfortunately gone.
A bit of the blame is a strikingly chaotic script considering how straightforward the story really is, who never quite seems to know where it wants to go with its many good ideas, promising conflicts and extensive role gallery. As usual, Bale gives 100% as a kind of Voldemort in medieval nunhabitt, but the film has no intentions of investigating the consequences of his teasing battle cry that all gods must die.
Here it is planned to set aside both established dogmas and food rent, power-hungry sun gods who bathe in privileges based on the forced loyalty, suffering, and blood of their subjects. But instead, the threat is quickly reduced to some kidnapped children, and Bale to yet another characterless supervillain with the supervillain agenda. An attempt to give him some extra layers towards the end appears most of all abrupt and unresolved.
It’s a real shame, both for the nerve of the story and the thematic clarity. Instead, one takes with it the somewhat emotional feeling that follows when the film first opens such a moral-philosophical door by problematizing these alleged naturalistic hierarchies that serve the few and oppress the many, and then just let the cosmic superhumans continue as before, because our god of thunder is good at the bottom and really beautiful. As usual, Marvel will have in both bag and sack, and end up with a big nothing in the middle.
(It should be said that the film bears the mark of having been cut, and guest roles such as Jeff Goldblum, Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey, are completely out of the film. However, it is not Matt Damon and Luke Hemsworth, who repeat their roles as Åsgård’s theater troupe , in a completely redundant, half-funny scene.)
The formerly so well-functioning humor also does its part to stretch the legs of progress and empathy. Waititi has not quite lost his flair, but perhaps takes his own tender fingertip feeling in excess for granted this time. The scenes are packed with more or less absurd joke digressions, but are often not set up sufficiently, become more complacent or insistent than immediately funny, or get in the way of the tension and emotions rather than give them a counterpoint and substantiate them. Then the effect is a little too often irritation rather than laughter.
Not for that, you see that there are many who enjoy themselves here, especially Russell Crowe as a decadent king of Olympus with the accompanying Greek accent, curls and ego, is fun. Bale and Portman also try, but it is quite clear that comic talent is not the reason why the two talented but relatively self-assured actors have each won an Oscar.
Waititi also seems quite uninterested in its action scenes, and the seams of the digital effects seem a little too often. It works best when the film completely embraces Harry’s eighties aesthetics, and thunders on with Guns N ‘Roses in gaudy fighting montages in tableaux that had belonged on the cover of a Meat Loaf record. The film is big and bombastic in every way, and it’s obvious on purpose. Then you have to decide for yourself how well that grip works.
Even the genuine emotions, Waititis’ other trademark in addition to the odd humor, rattle here. It’s nice to see Thor and Jane reunited, but there’s something lukewarm, indistinct and unresolved about the subtitle of their romantic quibble, which will tentatively drive our engagement where the suspense plot does not extend. Then even the romance in this space combo space ship goes idle fast.
The consequences of this will become apparent towards the end. When Waititi goes in for the really big emotions, the theme is so shamelessly swollen, and the actors so appealing, that the tears may sit loose in the corner of the eye anyway.
But like the self-righteous positions of the ancient gods at the top of the world, this story has not earned them.