"Never take off the mask."
"Never take off the mask."

Unmasked: “Thor: Love and Thunder”

After all the stories I’ve read, all the games I’ve played and all the movies and TV series on a similar topic I’ve watched, I can conclude that Thor is definitely not my favourite comic book hero. However, ironically or not, his solo movie is one of my favourite productions not only as an independent such in MCU but also compared to all the rest within it, perhaps even outside of it. And yes, I know there are already 4 possible movies for that and yes, I’m talking about “Thor: Ragnarok”.

It should be enough for you to know that the third part about the god of thunder is the only one on which we have devoted a video and probably the biggest nonsense (i.e. review) that I’ve written. Therefore it should be clear that I had quite some expectations from Taika Waititi and co., especially on account of what we’ve already seen from them, as well as Hemsworth’s previous incarnations in the role. The New Zealand citizen managed to create a completely new look for his main character (both inside and outside), to include at least half a dozen more actors, who have already established themselves as the characters they’ve played, and to make them even more recognizable by showing his non-typical and exquisite directing and story-writing style.

I’m saying all of this with a bit of nostalgia and sadness because as much as I don’t want to admit it, “Thor: Love and Thunder” definitely wasn’t what I expected it to be, but this time more in the negative sense of the word. We had all the pre-requisites for it to be the spiritual and even direct sequel to “Ragnarok” – the same director, the same characters, the return of some old ones, Christian Bale, a lot of visual effects and a stylish 80’s atmosphere and soundtrack. The problem is that the movie not only misses taking advantage of those but even worse, it also somehow ruins the taste which I guess most of the audience has been left with after the previous adventures of Thor Odinson.

The first couple of minutes were quite strong as a whole – too bad that the movie didn’t manage to keep the same pace and continue with such cult poses and references later on.

I was wondering for a while what would be the best way to show you what I’ve seen and what I didn’t like and since usually the easiest thing is to make a list of things, below you’ll see something similar. And before we start, a small clarification – “Thor: Love and Thunder” is not a bad film and is a fine movie to enjoy but it definitely isn’t what I expected it to be. Here’s why:

During the whole movie I had the feeling that I’m watching Thor for the first time, rather than for the not-sure-which-one-anymore-th (bearing in mind the movies with assembled superheroes which he takes part in) – at times it seemed like he hasn’t learned anything so far and past events haven’t impacted him in any way. I don’t know, perhaps it was a desired effect but if it indeed was, then it felt a bit unnecessary to me to put the hero back to his old childish habits. Not to even mention the guardians of the galaxy and how absurd it was that we actually saw their entire screen time in the trailer. I get it that they have their own movie coming next year and that their place is rather not here but, having in mind the concept for “Asgardians of the Galaxy”, what we saw here as quality content with their participation felt extremely short.

Knowing that one of Waititi’s main weapons is his weird sense of humour, I expected a lot more here too. In “Ragnarok” it was quite more relevant and mature and in other productions from the director like “Our Flag Means Death” it was actually spot on, keeping in mind that we were talking about a pirate parody there. Here, however, it has declined to a couple of quite childish actions and well-known jokes. The accent is put on how good the relationship between Thor and his axe and hammer is and on the now too famous goats and their screaming which, by the way, is based on a meme with a song from Taylor Swift – well, if that’s the bar for decent humour nowadays, then I don’t know what primal screams and “highly” intelligent conversations with inanimate objects expect us in the future.

Long story short – the plot was lacking. In their attempts to avoid the multiverse and to close the adventure in some time and space frames, Waititi and Robinson have made the script even more absurd at times. I admire Taika’s proactivity and the fact that he’s simultaneously a director, a script writer and an actor but some misconceptions like the one with the group of kids towards the end of the movie, as well as the irrelevance and low degree of impact on the plot’s development of some of the otherwise more important characters (or some of the new and intriguing ones) put the joke on him this time. The story would be nicely told, would provoke some interest and would show its characters in a different light … if there weren’t a few movies before that which have already done it.

In this line of thoughts, I like and I’ve always liked Natalie Portman but her return here was quite redundant, to be honest. Yes, her story did not end in the best way possible in the previous movies and yes, here we get a much clearer and more definitive development of the character and yes, I know that what happened to her is part of the comics and I was still left with the feeling for a rushed script. Jane Foster was seemingly put there to fill plot holes and to drive it forward (and not necessarily in the right direction) which should tell you enough of how full-fledged it was otherwise. As much as Portman was trying (and she really was), she didn’t manage to awaken any interest in me towards her character or what’s happening to her, perhaps excluding the fact that the visual transformation from Jane to Mighty Thor and back was really well executed.

I couldn’t miss the chance to share this with you – What If … Kratos was in the MCU

Contrary to that we have Christian Bale’s character on the other side. Personally for me a much better built character with a surely more interesting story who got his moments because of the actor. It’s a common practice nowadays for people who have established themselves with peak performances in DC’s universe to switch to Marvel’s (there aren’t really many examples for the opposite) but in Bale’s case that doesn’t really matter anyways since he definitely knows what he’s doing and manages to steal every scene he appears in.

What I didn’t like here is that they didn’t actually manage to entirely fulfill the “god butcher”‘s potential and the ridiculously short amount of time that Gorr got is probably the main reason why he looked under developed and was more in the shadow (both literally and figuratively) of his colleagues. And another thing – it really looked like they were going for Kratos’ appearance rather than comic book Gorr (search for images of both and tell me who looks more like the original with this make up) and if that was indeed the case, then they should have at least given a bit more background of the character and should have shown a bit more spectacle and epic clashes with gods – people who have played “God of War”(or have figured it out from the picture above) will understand.

To wrap up the character topic, I can conclude that I expected much more from the main heroes but in the end they turned out to be the most disappointing ones. On the other hand, the supporting roles were quite eye-catching and were actually a pretty good and authentic interpretation of the heroes in question – take Russell Crowe, for example, who came up with an amazing portrait of Zeus, from his ridiculous costume to his way of talking and manners. Still, there were some exceptions here too – like Lady Sif who was more a cameo than having an actual meaningful conversation with Thor. Those who were actually meant to be cameos, though, were most likely one of the more interesting and original parts of the movie – think about the pretty accurate theatre during the movie which more or less served as a reminder of everything that had happened so far.

Visual-wise the movie also didn’t really shine. Well, yeah, it obviously actually shined at times, simply because at the beginning of the movie there was a warning for the people that could potentially get epileptic seizures but apart from that there wasn’t really anything that proved to be impressive. I admit that with all those colors, rainbows and blingy things the black-and-white scenes were actually pretty cool and managed to stand out and give the necessary darker setting to the scenes. Therefore the elements which were in much brighter colors compared to the dark nuances of the movie’s villain contrasted well in such environment. The soundtrack was fine, the main theme this time was obviously switched from Led Zeppelin to Guns ‘n Roses around which, naturally, revolved part of the jokes and the main “vibe” of the movie but all in all this is basically everything more interesting that can be said about it.

Since I already mentioned video games – if you haven’t gotten tired of Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder’ screams, then play Goat Simulator so that you also feel what it’s like to be a supergoat.

If I have to sum up everything said so far with a few sentences, I would say with a bit of sorrow in my heart that “Thor: Love and Thunder” is more of a step back compared to his predecessor and also doesn’t in any way help for the unleashing of the potential of Phase 4 within the MCU. I get the idea that they wanted to show the hero in a completely different light than the rather boring and darker first and second part and that the main target audience this time is the considerably younger one that would die of laughter with such a colourful and relaxing production. And still, I don’t know, perhaps I’m already too old for such things or too biased about what to expect or it just has to be really something “wow” in all aspects so that it impresses me.

We shouldn’t also forget that Thor is the first hero in MCU with four solo movies and from everything it looks like this might not even be his last one which is an indication to some extent that perhaps even Kevin Feige and his team haven’t decided completely yet about the road the god-superhero will take from here onwards. I understand that everything so far, similar to the movies in Phase 1, serves a basis for what’s about to come eventually. But while until now we were seeing mostly new faces who would potentially fill in the shoes of the current ones as the crowd’s newest superhero favourites, here we are left with rather well-known and familiar faces which have either hit the “reset” button on their progress so far or have just stuck in the same place in the best case scenario.

I don’t know if Taika Waititi will come back for the hinted in the bonus scenes (which, by the way, I’m kinda optimistic for since the face shown plays one of my favourite characters in another production) new sequel and whether he will work with the same team (but on the other hand it would be weird if at least most of the team weren’t the same people considering what has happened) but if he decides to try again I really hope that he is keeping notes from the fans and critics’ feedback. In the end, there’s still potential in his heroes and some of us actually like his more exotic sense of humour, his directing techniques and his visual representation of his ideas but it’s also nice to bear in mind that the idea of “more of the same” doesn’t always lead to quality results and his latest creation is an example of that.

In all cases the faith and support from our side as fans should stay strong, it’s a matter of time to see to what extent those would be justified with the upcoming releases (yes, “Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3”, I’m counting on you). And until then, as I already implied, if the movie hasn’t charged you up enough or you’re looking for similar entertainment like me (or my review has for some reason made you decide not to watch the movie – better not listen to me), then you can safely point your attention towards the upcoming much more adequate and definitely more epic adventure which is right behind the corner and which already suggests a lot of pleasant emotions with its name only – “God of War: Ragnarok”.

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