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Humor and emotion carry Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder | Film reviews | Spokane | Interior of the Pacific Northwest

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Two Thors! We want two Thor…

When director Taika Waititi took over the Marvel Cinematic Universe Thor movies with those of 2017 Thor: Ragnarok, he deliberately steered the series away from its first two entries, which are often seen as weak points of the monolithic MCU. With the new Thor: Love and Thunder, Waititi returns to those earlier Thor films, putting his own spin on some of their major plot elements. Primarily, it brings back Natalie Portman as Thor’s scientist ex-girlfriend, Jane Foster, who was a somewhat bland presence in the first two films, but here she takes a more proactive role in Thor’s superheroic adventures. Thor.

That’s because Jane becomes a superhero herself, a version of the Norse god of thunder who goes by the title of Mighty Thor. The original Thor (Chris Hemsworth) still feels a bit lost, dealing with the events of the latest MCU films and their multiple universe-threatening disasters. End of 2019 Avengers: Endgame, Thor has joined the Guardians of the Galaxy, but Waititi dispatches them fairly quickly, glossing over a series of off-screen adventures via the narration of Thor’s pal, the goofy alien Korg (played by Waititi). The heaviness of the MCU requires a lot of recapping, but Waititi ends up rationalizing the film down to Thor, a few allies, and a villain who threatens the existence of House Thor and his people.

Although Thor’s kingdom of Asgard was destroyed in Ragnarok, the Asgardians are thriving in their new home on Earth, until they are threatened by the sinister Gorr the Butcher God (Christian Bale), who seeks revenge on all the gods for abandoning him and his deceased girl when needed. Bale makes Gorr both menacing and tragic, but his earnestness is a bit out of place in the lively, joke-filled style Waititi has established with Ragnarok and continue here. Tonal imbalance is one of love and thunder‘s biggest problems, as it goes from heated discussions of death to goofy banter, sometimes within the same conversation.

This makes Gorr less threatening, even though he’s about to wipe out all the gods. Thor recruits Jane, Korg, and Asgardian leader Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) to help him defeat Gorr and rescue a group of kidnapped Asgardian children, but their downtime is often more compelling than the big action sequences. Waititi retroactively makes the romance between Thor and Jane more interesting, with flashbacks that fill in the gaps between the movies. Portman’s physical transformation into a muscular action hero is impressive, but that’s only one aspect of Jane’s journey as a character.

A detour to a city filled with gods (including Russell Crowe and his odd Greek accent as Zeus) seems like filler, though the casual vibe of love and thunder is especially attractive. When every movie is about the potential end of existence, the MCU can feel exhausting and love and thunder tells a story that’s vitally important to its particular characters without having to encompass the entire Marvel superhero lineup. Gorr continues the MCU tradition of disappointing villains, especially in the finale, but the movie isn’t really about him anyway.

Visually, love and thunder doesn’t stray from the established MCU template, though Waititi adds creative touches where he can, aiming for a sort of 1980s hard rock aesthetic (reflected in a soundtrack filled with Guns N’ Roses songs) . At this point, the special effects, costumes, and set design of these films are largely interchangeable, and the various intergalactic and mythological locations have the same shiny, slightly plastic look. The variations within the MCU remain minimal, but love and thunder finds a fun approach in its limited scope. ♦

Two and a half stars THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER

Rated PG-13

Directed by Taika Waititi

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale