Love and Thunder’ rocks with humor, heart and A-listers

A lavish space viking feast of a movie, “Thor: Love and Thunder” is deliciously loaded with Oscar-winning talent, stage-stealing screaming goats, kaleidoscopic color schemes, 1980s iconography, cameos A -list, Guardians of the Galaxy, thundering action sequences, witty one-liners, a diverse horde of mythological gods, and an explosive soundtrack featuring Guns N’ Roses, plus Dio, ABBA, and Enya .

Oscar-winning screenwriter and director Taika Waititi’s second cutscene in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s seemingly endless banquet is a delightfully over-the-top treat that’s pleasantly bittersweet at times.

As with most of the New Zealander’s distinctly eccentric past work – including his Oscar-winning Nazi satire “Jojo Rabbit”, the Oklahoma-made comedy series “Reservation Dogs” and his previous MCU film, the 2017 hit “Thor: Ragnarok”. – “Love and Thunder” veers wildly from crazy recurring jokes and silly gags to relatable and resonant moments of loss, grief and anguish.

Narrated by Korg, Thor’s adorably crazy rock-warrior sidekick (voiced by Waititi), “Love and Thunder” picks up after the events that turned the universe upside down in “Avengers: Endgame.” Now back in fighting form, Thor (the ever-lovely Chris Hemsworth) continues (briefly, anyway) to roam the cosmos with the Guardians of the Galaxy, helping Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord and Co. out of interstellar remnants. assorted.

‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ finds God of Thunder in a funk

But the god of thunder is clearly caught up in existential funk: his parents are dead, his estranged siblings have been killed, his homeworld has been destroyed, and he’s never recovered from his breakup with his human girlfriend. astrophysicist Jane Foster (Oscar winner Natalie Portman). He may be an immortal who has lived for thousands of years, but he doesn’t really know who he is or what his fate should be now.

An encounter with an old friend alerts Thor to a new threat: the gruesome Gorr the Butcher God (Oscar winner Christian Bale), who, as his name suggests, has wreaked havoc by slaying superhuman rulers with the cursed Necrosword.

Thor has reason to believe this vengeful villain will next target New Asgard, so he rushes to Earth, where his loyal friend King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) is bored with the paperwork of running a Scandinavian fishing village. turned into a tourist attraction – even a complete with a new Thanos-themed ice cream shop and another dramatic recreation of Asgardian history featuring Matt Damon, Sam Neill and Luke Hemsworth (plus a few newly added famous faces) .

Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie (left) and Natalie Portman as Mighty Thor in "Thor: Love and Thunder."

Natalie Portman makes a triumphant return to the MCU as The Mighty Thor

When he returns to Earth, Thor is shocked to find that he and Valkyrie aren’t the only fierce fighters fighting to protect their people from Gorr and his fearsome army of shadow monsters. Jane proved herself worthy to reassemble the shattered pieces of her magic hammer Mjölnir and wield her electrifying powers as the fearsome warrior “The Mighty Thor”.

It’s hard to say which reunion is more fun and awkward: Thor coming face-to-face with his former lover, who is now an ass kicker, while recalling the dissolution of their romance in an ABBA-scored montage, or Thor meeting his semi-lover. sentient old weapon, leading to his new magical weapon, the Stormbreaker Axe, becoming visibly jealous.

But with Gorr taking the children of New Asgard hostage as part of his nefarious plan, Thor and Jane team up and set off with Korg and Valkyrie on a cosmic rescue mission that involves howling goats, space dolphins, and a An eventful jaunt to Omnipotence City, the glittering home of the chief gods ruled by Oscar winner Russell Crowe’s big-bellied swagger Zeus.

Left to right: Natalie Portman as Mighty Thor and Chris Hemsworth as Thor in Marvel Studios' THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER.

‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ is very stylish, the performances, the laughs

After two overly serious “Thor” movies in 2011 and 2013, Waititi brought color, style, and – best of all – fun to Viking’s MCU presence in supercharged space with the highly entertaining “Ragnarok.” With “Love and Thunder,” which he co-wrote with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson (the MTV “Sweet/Vicious” series) based on a few Marvel Comics series written by Jason Aaron, Waititi brings even more of his singular storytelling and humor eccentric in Thor’s adventures.

The filmmaker’s second “Thor” flick boasts big ’80s action-movie energy with a hard-rocking soundtrack and Day-Glo palette to match, though the most visually striking scene involves our heroes chasing Gorr in a dark realm where all splashes of color are washed away into shades of gray.

Likewise, “Love and Thunder” gives Gorr a stark introduction as a religious fanatic who becomes the last person alive on his dying desert world after the death of his young daughter. When he is lucky enough to meet the god he worshiped face to face, the deity’s callousness enrages him so much that he takes on the vengeful mantle of God Butcher. With Bale’s legendary dedication and talents, Gorr immediately emerges as one of the best villains in the MCU, on par with Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger and Josh Brolin’s Thanos.

Under Waititi’s direction, Hemsworth has blossomed into the godlike role he’s played for more than a decade across four standalone films and three “Avengers” releases. Along with continuing to show off his impressive comedic chops, the star is igniting never-before-seen call chemistry with Portman during their reunions as Thor and Jane.

Already established as a formidable talent, Portman hopped on “Ragnarok” after the first two “Thor” films gave her little to do except occasionally spout scientific jargon and look pretty in Thor’s beefy arms. So it’s thrilling to watch her own now-famous arms take up Thor’s hammer and fight evil like an immortal, even as she privately battles her own mortal issues. His “ride or die” friendship with Valkyrie – which deserves its own Disney+ spin-off series since Marvel seems to be handing them out as freely as after-dinner mints – also brings a nice human element to the intergalactic proceedings.

Waititi’s abrupt shifts in tone and often maniacal wit may not be for everyone, and not all of the jokes are entirely on point. But he still manages to cook up another out-of-the-ordinary “Thor” adventure, punctuated with lots of heart, humor and memorable moments.

What about the post-credits scenes?

Although the trend is for blockbuster films to be almost three hours long, Waititi keeps “Thor: Love and Thunder” at a quick two hours, credits included.

And, yes, like previous MCU films, fans should stick around for two bonus scenes: one in the middle of the credits and one after. No spoilers, but both scenes feature star-studded cameos, one foreshadowing a possible future direction of Thor’s hero’s journey and the other bringing back a beloved fan favorite.


3 out of 4 stars

Rating: PG-13

How to see it: In theaters July 8, with advance screenings July 7.