Thor: Love & Thunder with Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman review – has the MCU jumped the shark?
Thor: Love & Thunder (12A) review
Phase four of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) has been a bit 'after the Lord Mayor's show' following the epic Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. While entertaining at times, Thor: Love and Thunder (Thor Four?) had me seriously wondering at times whether the MCU has jumped the shark.
Director and co-writer Taika Waititi, riding high fresh from the success of Thor: Ragnarok, Jojo Rabbit and the series What We Do in the Shadows, tries to repeat the all-out comedy formula that worked for his previous Thunder God outing after it was felt this corner of the Marvel franchise had grown gritty and dull with the Thor: Dark World second outing.
So Thor's (Chris Hemsworth) love interest, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) – last seen in Dark World and pretty much forgotten-about – is resurrected here.
Ace physicist Jane has stage four cancer so in a quest for a cure she seeks Thor's hammer Mjolnir – which was shattered by Thor's sister Hela, remember?
A super-powered Jane and Mjolnir gatecrash Thor's fight with creatures summoned by villain-of-the-film Gorr the God-Butcher (Christian Bale) who kidnaps the children of New Asgard, which is now run by Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson).
The two Thunder Gods, Valkyrie and stone-being Korg (voiced by Waititi) form a motley group seeking help from the rest of the pantheon of Gods but are rebuffed in a pretty-pointless cameo from a well-known actor with a ridiculous spoof-Stavros from Harry Enfield accent.
It seems this cameo is just an excuse to introduce another adversary in the mid-credits sequence.
Bale comes out with a lot of credit for a nuanced performance, Hemsworth is charming as usual but is wrestling with a patchy script – the bit where he splits with travel buddies The Guardians of the Galaxy is painful at times – Portman looks a little lost while Thompson's patented bored look seems designed to exasperate or offend.
The balance of humour to drama, which worked well in Ragnarok but I had reservations about at the time, has skewed to too smug and silly; and the tone is all over the place.
Maybe Waititi has started to believe the hype, got too overworked or just doesn't care too much. There certainly is a whiff of "let's laugh at and belittle the source material".
Remember, ladies and gentlemen: this source material, by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and many others, is paying your huge salaries.
* Any easter eggs? Loads of cameos and characters. Marvel cosmic figures the Celestials, The Watcher and Living Tribunal are just the minor ones.
Peter 'The Watcher' Woodhouse