4K Ultra HD Review: Taika Waititi Infuses “Thor: Love And Thunder” With An Overabundance Of Humor That Oftentimes Misses The Mark
Thor enlists the help of Valkyrie, Korg, and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster to fight Gorr the God Butcher, who intends to make the gods extinct.
Director Taika Waititi saved the Thor franchise with “Thor: Ragnarok” in 2017. While the first two movies were more serious in tone, “Ragnarok” allowed Thor to let his hair down, so to speak, and have some much-needed fun. Thor wasn’t as contemplative and subdued as he had been previously, and while “Ragnarok” injected some refreshing laugh-out-loud moments, Waititi triumphantly integrated levity and gravity so that each component would be compatible with each another and add a sense of balance to the overall narrative.
In “Thor: Love and Thunder,” Waititi keeps its predecessor’s prevailing sense of humor, but after a while, the film succumbs to excessive buffoonery that negates many of the story’s weightier elements. Don’t get me wrong, there are many humorous moments, but ultimately, they overshadow scenes that should have been played earnestly, not comically.
We pick up after the events of “Avengers: Endgame” with Thor joining the Guardians of the Galaxy. After many exciting battles together, the Guardians come across a distress signal from a god in a distant universe, a god Thor knows. After tracking down the god, he bids the Guardians farewell and learns about Gorr the God Butcher, a being who is hellbent on killing all gods. He possesses All-Black, the Necrosword, which legend says was created using the head of a slain Celestial and can destroy any god. After Mjölnir was annihilated by Thor’s sister Hela in “Ragnarok,” he feels it calling out to him and makes his way back to Earth only to find Gorr attacking New Asgard. Thor calls out to Mjölnir, which has been reforged, and just as it is about to return to him, it quickly pulls away and lands in the grasp of his ex, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), now the Mighty Thor, the Goddess of Thunder.
They manage to chase Gorr away but not before he kidnaps many of the town’s children. Jane tells Thor that she felt Mjölnir call out to her, and when she visited New Asgard, now a tourist trap, the surviving fragments reassembled and presented themselves to her as new Mjölnir. With everyone in the village scared and angry because of their missing children, Thor, Jane, and Valkyrie reach out to the Council of Gods for help, led by Zeus in the Grand Pantheon in Omnipotence City. Still, when things don’t go according to plan, Thor manages to steal Zeus’ Lightning Bolt, said to be the most powerful and feared weapon on Earth and in the Heavens. Now they must track down Gorr, eliminate him before he executes any more gods, and save the children before it’s too late.
While much of the film is dependent on humor, it gradually begins to lose its charm, especially when dealing with such a destructive and uncompromising adversary like Gorr the God Butcher. When we are first introduced to him, he wanders his barren home planet along with his young daughter, telling her that their god will protect them but eventually, the harsh elements contribute to her death. Soon after that, Gorr faces his god in a luscious forest and sees the corpse of a dark elder god called Knull, who was just defeated by his god, the All-Black Necrosword, beside him. When Gorr asks for mercy and health and the return of his deceased daughter, he is mocked and ridiculed by his god, and this is where Gorr picks up the Necrosword and transforms into a vengeful galactic god killer. We understand his pain; having just lost his daughter and then slighted by the only god he has ever prayed to, his pain and anguish turn to hatred and anger, and as a result, he vows to kill every god in the universe.
Director Waititi’s zany sense of humor worked well in “Ragnarok” because while Hela was a worthy nemesis, she spoke facetiously and sarcastically and often used humor when offing her enemies; here, Gorr is resolute in annihilating every god he comes across because of his own god’s inattention and self-proclaimed superiority, resulting in the death of his daughter so inserting ill-timed quips and one-liners, don’t have the same riotous effect they had in its predecessor. The scene in Omnipotence City with Zeus and the other gods was fun but all-too-brief, with Russell Crowe giving a Monty Python-esque performance. While Natalie Portman returns to the MCU, I never felt like her character added an awful lot to whatever story she was a part of. While she assumes the form of Mighty Thor, I felt like any other actress could have inhabited that role and maybe even done a better job. She is not a bad actress, but here, she is just unremarkable, like this was the last part of a three-picture contract, and she just wanted to get it over and done with.
One of the most significant issues Marvel has had with Phase 4 is that it doesn’t feel like it is going anywhere; with Phase III, we had the inevitable showdown between the Avengers and Thanos, so it always felt like it was building towards something, with Phase 4, there is no new big bad guy in sight. Hence, every film in this phase feels like an individual entry disconnected from one another. While MCU characters might cameo in certain movies or TV shows, the comprehensive overarching narrative that worked so well in Phase 3 is sorely missing. I hope when Marvel gets around to Phase 5, they will do a better job of planning it out in advance. In the end, “Thor: Love and Thunder” is entertaining and has some genuinely funny moments and heartfelt scenes, but it pales in comparison to “Ragnarok.” They say lightning never strikes twice, but Marvel has repeatedly proved them wrong. Sadly, this time around, “they” are right.
Now available on Digital HD and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, & DVD September 27th
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