I can’t really think of any other way to see it but as I was watching the new Marvel Cinematic Universe joint, THOR LOVE & THUNDER, I kept thinking to myself that this is the stoner movie of 2022. I don’t partake in mind-altering substances, but Taika Waititi’s latest foray into the franchise has a dazzling array of funky colours, special effects and a terrific sense of humour that is not to be taken seriously whatsoever.
What also sets this new THOR apart as well is that this does not feel like a Plot Delivery Device that has stained the MCU over the last few years. While a lot of the world connection is there, including a spin off to the Guardians of the Galaxy, a lot is also explained here for the casual viewer even more-so than the last one, RAGNAROK, in 2017. It’s a series that seems to have hit its peak with this one, and if you also just want a brisk two hour sci-movie as a break from the worries of current events, THOR has you covered.
LOVE & THUNDER has a cold open, even before the studio logo, of a mysterious figure struggling in a deserted terrain. This turns out to be the alien Gorr (Christian Bale, hardly recognizable) who realizes that his lords have abandoned him and his daughter has died. A series of events comes forth in which he can wield a particular sword and will hunt down as many gods as he can, including our titular hero and his friends.
Then it cuts to a narrator, voiced by Waititi himself, before a group of kids as the main story begins. This immediately made me want to see his 2016 gem HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE with his trademark bizarre sense of humour. We meet up with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) as he’s with the Guardians as he learns of Gorr and his plight. This picture also brings Jane Foster from the original, Kenneth Branagh directed THOR back into the action after a long hiatus, and now has terminal cancer. The Guardians of the Galaxy team also have a bit of an appearance here as well to keep that crazy “cinematic universe” going, but far less characters to overwhelm.
Hemsworth has a lot of fun here (especially with his weight-gain from AVENGERS: ENDGAME), but I loved how the movie balanced its characters and gave everyone time to breathe. As per usual you can’t recognize Bale as he always falls deep into his work, and he has some strong moments. The great Tessa Thompson has some great scenes as Valkyrie with a good sense of humour, and the legend himself Russell Crowe makes one of my favourite MCU appearances here as Zeus, and he does this performance in such a way that is part GLADIATOR and part THE NICE GUYS that is a total wink and a nod to the camera. You can tell he was having a lot of fun here. Waititi pushes the wacky visuals and effects to the breaking point with his great sense of humour; even two goats which get tied up in the main action get a lot of comedic mileage with one particular sound that made me laugh every single time that it happened.
I quite admired where a lot of LOVE & THUNDER went, even though I really don’t think we need to see yet another THOR movie or continue this story arc that much. You likely won’t remember much of it the next day, but in a way it’s alright. As is, it’s still very entertaining and so colourful, and I laughed out loud on many occasions. This is an easy recommend and is really trippy, but I think we can all stop here. At the very least LOVE & THUNDER gives me a bit of hope that the overall MCU series can continue without all the sameness.
THOR: LOVE & THUNDER is now playing in theatres.
Boring Tech Notes: I viewed LOVE & THUNDER in a standard 2D presentation and this is more than fine for the format. I was able to sample some of the IMAX and 3D versions and neither really stand out or need an upgrade. You will be fine in good old 2D.