Thor takes on a grumpy Batman in Thor: Love and Thunder, an entertaining if slight action-comedy that works best at its silliest but is a step down from Thor: Ragnarok. In the movie, Chris Hemsworth faces off against Christian Bale, who plays an angry alien who has eaten one too many pieces of black licorice and who really, really, really wants to kill all the gods in the universe.
Taika Waititi returns to write and direct this zany adventure that begins with Thor battling bad guys with the Guardians of the Galaxy and ends with him empowering a bunch of kids with lightning-fueled teddy bears, among other things. Quasi-narrated by rock creature Korg (voiced by Waititi, who I’m pretty certain just wants to make a Korg movie and why wouldn’t he?), Thor: Love and Thunder sees the return of old flame Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who has spent her off-screen time pumping iron and injecting steroids.
Waititi revels in his bonkers story, though it’s not really the story that’s bonkers. Scene by scene, Thor: Love and Thunder is electric, and most of those electric scenes are funny, weird sequences that are funny and weird for the sake of being funny and weird–that’s Waititi’s strength. When Thor rescues a foreign world and is given two shrieking goats… hilarity ensues. Any time Korg speaks… hilarity ensues. When Russell Crowe appears to ham it up as Zeus… hilarity ensues.
The rest of the movie is… fine.
Waititi’s desire to be goofy pays off except when it doesn’t; as an action movie, and Thor: Love and Thunder should in part be an action movie, it’s pretty vanilla. As a romance–it does have “love” in the title, after all–the rekindled fire between Thor and Jane is all but invisible. Portman was likely paid a lot of money to return to the MCU but looks convincingly uninterested in being here; further, any chemistry she and Hemsworth once had has long since been wiped away.
More interesting are the other supporting characters, namely Tessa Thompson who is as good as always even if she isn’t given much to do. Christian Bale is terrific as Gorr the God Butcher, even if his seriousness seems out of place in the movie Waititi wants to make.
By the way, if you’re excited for the return of Sif (Jamie Alexander), don’t be.
Thor: Love and Thunder is a lot of fun, and yet it feels more like a disparate grouping of fun scenes than a cohesive, fully realized movie. Marvel fans won’t complain much, but it needed a bit more love and thunder to fully win me over.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.