Guns n Roses songs, terminal illnesses, and god killers levitate MCU sequel.
The key to an entertaining “Thor” sequel in the MCU is to make sure there’s a balance between fun and responsibility. “Thor: The Dark World” was too dull to be massively entertaining, but “Thor: Ragnarok” was brought to life by the brilliance of director Taika Waititi.
Now, we have “Thor: Love and Thunder,” once again directed by Waititi, which isn’t “Ragnarok,” because of some annoying elements (some of them I can’t reveal for the sake of spoilers) and some CGI effects are a bit too much, but it’s also not “The Dark World,” and that’s a good thing. Another key in this franchise is to look beyond its strengths and weaknesses, and to acknowledge where the God of Thunder’s story will lead into.
This time, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) does the Mr. Incredible work-out routine, he reunites with his astrophysicist ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), he joins the Guardians of the Galaxy in battle to the tune of “Welcome to the Jungle,” and he has to deal with a few jerks: the cocky Zeus (Russell Crowe with a silly Mediterranean accent) and the god-killer known as Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale, disguised by make-up and fake teeth).
The challenges include Gorr kidnapping all the Asgaardian children as part of his plan to capture Thor, and Jane trying to use Mjolnir to try to tame her illness. But that’s not all there is to the story.
The returning cast also includes Waitit as Thor’s rock monster friend Korg, Tessa Thompson as the new ruler of Asgaard, Jaimie Alexander as his warrior friend Sif, Chris Pratt as Star Lord, Dave Bautista as Drax, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Sean Gunn as Kraglin, Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket Raccoon, and Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot. I didn’t give everyone away, because audiences were clapping when they saw the two credit scenes.
Last week, I felt bad that I couldn’t praise “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” because I love Gru and his silly, yellow minions, and yet somehow, they weren’t given the kind of enjoyment that made them so iconic and fun. This week, I can praise “Thor: Love and Thunder” for continuing to push the limits of her God of Thunder and for keeping both the comedic and serious sides in balance.
It’s goofy the way Gorr threatens the children, who all seem like young “Monty Python” stars on an English version of “All That,” and it’s serious in the ways he’s been poisoned into becoming a monster. Bale is charming on both sides of the spectrum.The same can be said for the chemistry between Hemsworth and Portman, whose characters struggle to deal with their choices and directions in their relationship. And Crowe, the Oscar winner for “Gladiator” (just think about it for a minute), made me laugh as Zeus, when he uses the accent and the arrogant appeal, especially when he refuses to help Thor stop Gorr.
It combines rock music and fantasy in the style of “Heavy Metal,” and there’s also a “Sin City” echo when Thor battles Gorr in a black-and-white-format, with only a few bland colors popping in. Maybe I’m a softie for MCU, but then again, I didn’t care for “Black Widow” or “Eternals.” TV shows usually make film critics look like jerks, when they pan certain movies of their studios’. I would say: I’m like a parent, who knows when to discipline and when to have fun. In “Thor: Love & Thunder’s” case, I had fun.