By Owen Glancy
“Thor: Love and Thunder” is the latest installment in the MCU’s “Thor” series. It continues the story of Thor Odinson as he and his friends face off against the terrifying Gorr the God Butcher.
The film’s greatest aspect is apparent right from the opening scene. Christian Bale’s performance as Gorr is easily the highlight of the movie and one of his better roles.
The soundtrack also stands out, using songs from ’70s and ’80s rock bands such as Guns and Roses and Dio. It makes for exciting background music that enhances the fight scenes.
The rest of the film struggles to live up to its villain and soundtrack. The visuals are at an all-time low for the MCU. There is clear evidence of overworked VFX studios. Almost every CGI effect is noticeably worse than even “Iron Man,” which was released nearly 15 years ago.
The characters aside from Gorr are either dull or annoying. Thor progressed from a serious character obsessed with combat to a goofball trying to fit in and live up to his father’s expectations throughout the previous MCU films. Here, he is a generic Marvel protagonist.
The jokes he constantly cracks go against the serious tone of the story and feel far more cringeworthy than they were in “Thor: Ragnarok.”
The return of Natalie Portman is initially a surprising plus. Portman's acting is far better than what was expected of her previously bland character. Her story of relying on Mjolnir to cure her cancer parallels Gorr’s reliance on the Necro-Sword to keep him alive, offering an interesting moral dilemma.
This potentially interesting storyline is ruined by the script. Portman’s character, Jane Foster, constantly downplays her cancer and destroys the emotional weight of her character. It makes her into another comic relief in a movie where everyone is cracking terrible jokes.
The writing and directing is ultimately what kills the film. Taika Waititi’s unique and comedic style helped drag the previous “Thor” films out of mediocrity, but in the current MCU climate, it feels tired and stale.
Waititi’s performance as Korg is good, but it takes up much more screen time than a comedic side character should. This hogging of screen time is especially apparent when The Guardians of the Galaxy are given so little at the start of the film.
The best scene in the film is when Gorr has the heroes trapped and gives an intimidating monologue. Bale’s acting really shines here and every time Thor or any other character attempts to talk back to him, he silences them. The irony of the best scene shutting up most of the characters is extremely apparent and emblematic of what needed to be fixed with the film.
Russell Crowe also makes an appearance as Zeus. He does well and is extremely entertaining but is in the film for such a short amount of time. This is super disappointing as his character could have possibly been interesting and fun to watch. Zeus’ return during the film’s end credit scene feels tacked on and is poorly shot, leading to what is on paper, a great monologue, feeling dry and cheesy.
At the climax of the film, Gorr faces off against Thor for the final time. This is obviously an important scene and should carry heavy dramatic weight. This tension is ruined by the corniest scene in the entire MCU. Thor transfers his powers to a group of Asgardian children that Gorr had kidnapped earlier in the film.
Putting aside the obvious logical questions this ability brings up, it completely destroys the tone of the scene. The children do virtually nothing, killing a few monsters and then are teleported away to safety. It makes this logic-defying, mind-boggling decision not even matter in the greater plot of the movie.
Ultimately, “Thor: Love and Thunder” is a disappointing entry into the MCU. Great performances by Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, and Russell Crowe are drowned out by poor visual effects, annoying characters, and baffling directorial decisions. It is without a doubt, the worst “Thor” movie and one of the MCU’s most dreadful films.
D: A Marriage of Bad Writing and Directing