‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ – Now with more . . . everything

Ben Nietzel
Ben Nietzel
Ben Nietzel works as the principal of Saints Mary and Mathias Catholic School. He also enjoys coaching Muskie football and reviewing movies.

Muscatine Living

Pro: More Thor

“Thor: Love and Thunder” is the fourth solo outing for Marvel’s God of Thunder, making him the first hero to get that much attention. It’s a remarkable thing, both because the character itself (a Norse God repurposed as a superhero) doesn’t scream mainstream popularity, and because his first outing into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was serviceable while his second was widely panned as the MCU’s worst film. It’s really a testament to two men that the franchise has gone from “also ran” to front runner.

The MCU’s greatest strength has always been it’s ability to marry actors to characters they can truly bring to life. Chris Hemsworth as Thor is one such combination. Hemsworth is equal parts attractive, physical, self-deprecating, and able to swerve that Aussie charm into a believable “surfer-dude” take on the God of Thunder whose really just a gifted but spoiled prince. Hemsworth has developed the character in such a way that he has the self-awareness to be silly, which is needed in a character that carries a hammer, fights ice giants, and travels around by a rainbow laser, while being believable when it comes time to beat up super villains.

Taika Waititi took over as director of the franchise for “Thor: Ragnarok” to universal praise. It was exciting, funny, irreverent, and seemed to give the character and franchise a new lease on life. Waititi looks to recapture that here, to limited success. Worth noting, Christian Bale disappears so much into his role as the evil villain it’s hard to tell if it’s an Oscar-worthy performance or the complete waste of an Oscar-talented actor.

Con: Try-hard

Expectation can be the foe of success. It becomes quite clear early in the film that “Thor: Love and Thunder” is aware of the massive expectations on it. Like a little brother trying to outshine his decorated older brother, “Thor: Love and Thunder” seems to try to take recapture success by taking everything audiences like about “Ragnarok” and putting in more and more. People liked Thor, so let’s have two Thors. People liked the humor, let’s try to get a joke in every minute. People like the bright colors and rock and roll, so let’s make the film equivalent of a smoothie made out of Skittles and Guns and Roses “Appetite for Destruction” CD. On paper, it feels like it should not only work, but absolutely kill. On the screen, it just feels like a mess. Worse, it’s so obvious that the film is trying hard to rekindle the magic that while it has fun spots and moments, mostly it ends up just kind of being boring. Boring is the absolute last thing a film called “Thor: Love and Thunder” should be.

Neutral: The Mousey Pulpit

Disney has decided to use their platforms to promote and discuss ideas and agendas that they feel are important. Depending on how you feel about those will strongly influence how you come away from “Thor: Love and Thunder.” If you stand in support Disney being vocal, and see film as a medium to bring about needed changes, you will likely appreciate how much they lean into pushing forth an agenda they would describe as inclusive and equal. If you are not looking for politics in your superhero movie, a film this on the nose will likely chafe at you throughout it’s entire runtime. It could be inspiring to you or it could be frustrating, but simply be aware that it is pervasive. Regardless, we need to continue to agree that ending climatic fight scenes with people talking it out is as dumb now as it was in “Wonder Woman 84.”

“Thor: Love and Thunder” is a fine summer superhero film, and that’s the problem. The previous outing, the trailers, the cast, all raised expectations to a level that this film simply didn’t achieve. It was a worthy try, but not a try worthy of Thor! Still, it’s not a bad way to spend two hours, so fly down to the Fridley Palms Theater and check it out today.

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