‘It feels more like a promise than a curse…’
Well, here we are again. I can’t be bothered to re-write a preamble considering whether the MCU is a bad thing for cinema or not, instead, I can point you towards any number of previous reviews that do that. Instead, let’s look at Thor: Love and Thunder as its own thing, freed from the context and heavy chains of the ubiquitous franchise in which it resides…
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) teams up with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and some guy made or rocks (Taika Waititi) in order to save a group of children from the evil ‘God Butcher’ Gorr (Christian Bale).
Other than a brief early appearance from the Guardians of the Galaxy, Waititi (directing from a script co-written with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson) wisely chooses to pretty much dispense with the rest of the MCU to tell a standalone story. This, coupled with the addition of Bale as the antagonist should have made for an exciting entry in an increasingly moribund franchise. Instead, he falls into all the usual trappings of late era Marvel movies. Namely, constant jokes that aren’t funny. Forgettable villains with limited backstory. Repetitive fight sequences. Too much CGI.
The sheer amount of talent on show here ensures that Thor: Love and Thunder isn’t a complete bust. Hemsworth continues to be the franchise MVP, and his interactions with Korg provide the film’s only genuinely funny moments, but this is not enough to make this latest Marvel entry worth the admission fee. Predictably, it’s more of the same.
We are now at a point where Marvel is taking established and talented directors like Waititi and Sam Raimi and draining them of any shred of originality or ingenuinty in a relentless attempt to stick to the house style. Well, this old franchise ain’t broke yet, but if something doesn’t change, it will be soon. The MCU is in real danger of losing its grip on cinema. When your films are referencing screaming goat videos that were popular on the internet a decade ago, it’s probably time to call it a day.