THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER Review: “Chris Hemsworth Rocks In Heartfelt & Emotionally Satisfying Marvel Adventure”

Thor: Love and Thunder is finally here, and we were fortunate enough to be among the first to see the latest Marvel Studios blockbuster. Come get our thoughts on the Chris Hemsworth-starrer now!

Reviews Opinion

Five years after giving us the rock-and-roll runaway blockbuster that was Thor: Ragnarok, director Taika Waititi and leading man Chris Hemsworth are back together to deliver a far more intimate affair with Thor: Love and Thunder, which also sees the return of Natalie Portman as the Mighty Thor and Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, while introducing a terrifying new villain in Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale)!

**This review contains mild spoilers for Marvel Studios’ Thor: Love and Thunder**

Let me tell you the story of the space viking, Thor Odinson…

Thor’s latest adventure picks up at a curious time for the God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) as he finds himself at an interesting crossroads, trying to determine what comes next in his immortal existence. Since we last saw him in Avengers: Endgame, Thor has gotten back in superhero shape and is more powerful than ever as he continues his travels with the Guardians of the Galaxy, helping those in need across the universe. However, as he goes from battle to battle, the golden-haired God finds himself unfulfilled with the constant fighting and starts to wonder whether there’s more to life than just smashing evil space aliens with Stormbreaker.

As it turns out, there is, but he’s going to have to take on one more all-powerful being before he gets there. Following a distress signal from an old friend, Thor finds himself on Gorr the God Butcher’s (Christian Bale) trail, which leads him to bid farewell to the Guardians and sends him, Korg (Taika Waititi) and a pair of goats back to New Asgard to warn his people about the evil that’s coming. Unfortunately, he’s just a little late with the news, arriving in the midst of battle, reuniting with King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and a brand new Asgardian superhero: the Mighty Thor (Natalie Portman)!

While he’s certainly surprised to see his ex wield his mysteriously resurrected hammer Mjolnir, he enthusiastically welcomes her help, but even that’s not enough to slow down Gorr and the Necrosword, who escapes New Asgard with the town’s beating heart. It’s here the film really begins to find its footing as Waititi kicks it into high gear for a thunderous journey through multiple different realms to recover what’s been lost and for Thor to ultimately find exactly what he’s been seeking. He’s seen so much loss, and Love finally gives him a reason to fight again.

After successfully reinventing his character in Ragnarok, and stealing the show in the Infinity War/Endgame two-parter, Hemsworth elevates himself yet again in Love and Thunder, delivering career-best work. For reasons that will become crystal clear by the end of the week, this film is undoubtedly the most special for Hemsworth, and he goes above and beyond to make this his grandest adventure yet, reminding us about everything we love about his Thor while also allowing the character to grow in an organic and incredibly exciting new direction that promises countless more adventures.

The film is thoroughly Hemsworth’s, but Christian Bale (Gorr), Natalie Portman (Jane Foster), Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie), and Taika Waititi (Korg) are all top-tier as well. Gorr has arguably one of the most tragic villain arcs in the MCU and Bale is exceptional as a man who’s become disillusioned with the Gods. He’s incredibly intense and sufficiently creepy, and should send a chill down your spine - although while he is one of Marvel’s better villains, it must be noted that there are moments where he doesn’t necessarily sync up from a tonal standpoint as seamlessly as Cate Blanchett (Hela) did in the previous film. It's not a huge deal, as he serves his purpose and does do some serious damage, but it's fair to wonder whether those reported deleted scenes would have fleshed out his role a little. 

As for Jane Foster, she gets a comic-accurate arc, and Portman brings an incredible amount of heart and grace to the film, along with plenty of Jane's trademark goofiness, which makes her transition into the Mighty Thor exceedingly easy to love. She and Thor find each other again at the right points in their respective lives and it’s beautiful to watch their reunion unfold on screen. Hemsworth and Portman's chemistry has never been better, and Portman really gets to flex her acting chops as she comes to terms with her new status quo.

Meanwhile, Tessa Thompson continues to shine as King Valkyrie, and is a scene-stealer throughout, leaving us wanting more every time. She's inexplicably sidelined leading into the finale, however, so hopefully Kevin Feige has plans to bring her back much sooner than later.

There are a lot of surprise cameos, many of which we can’t talk about just yet. Russell Crowe leaves a lasting impression as Zeus, while Luke Hemsworth and Matt Damon are hysterical reprising their roles as the Asgardian actors playing Thor and Loki, respectively. The Guardians are a welcome sight, but are honestly more of a glorified cameo than anything else, since most of their cool moments are in the trailers. The film is a personal affair for Hemsworth, Bale, and Waititi as their children all make appearances, which only adds to the fun and merriment.

Waititi continues his hot streak and gives us another Thor adventure for the ages, this time infusing plenty of heart and heartbreak to balance out the humor - of which there is plenty, including a hilarious recurring bit between Thor and his two weapons. Love and Thunder is a far more emotional and, arguably, more satisfying story than its predecessor since there isn’t a Thanos-sized cliffhanger at the end, and there are real intimate stakes at play that ultimately change Thor’s future forever.

Like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness before it, Love and Thunder also operates at a breakneck pace, and while much of it can be attributed to the urgency of Thor’s predicament, it’s hard not to wonder why Waititi didn’t pad on a few extra minutes to flesh out the first act since the beginning isn’t particularly strong. It actually feels almost as if Thor being with the Guardians at the end of Infinity War wrote the director into a corner and he had to quickly find a way to pivot and separate the two parties before he could really get to the good stuff. Gorr and Jane's introductions are handled well, but the latter certainly could've used a little more time to set up how she gets from Point A to Point B.

While the film isn't as visually striking as Ragnarok, nor is it as revolutionary, the action and spectacle are as exciting and entertaining as ever, especially the stunning black-and-white battle in the shadow realm and the electrifying finale. After the massive scope of Thor's last three appearances, Waititi scales things back to a true standalone story that pushes the MCU to new heights. As loud and bombastic as the film can be, it's when Waititi allows things to get quiet that he really excels as a director, because, rather than the massive set pieces, it's the beautiful character moments that stay with you long after the credits roll.

There are two post-credit scenes, with the mid-credits simultaneously introducing a new threat and a powerful new character that should have a big role moving forward, while the post-credits sequence is one of Marvel’s most beautiful and poignant scenes ever. It’s the perfect capper to this particular blockbuster adventure.

Thor: Love and Thunder is Marvel Studios’ most heartful and emotionally satisfying film to date, with absolutely rockstar performances from its cast of Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, and Christian Bale. After years of tragedy and torment, filled with loss and solitude, director Taika Waititi finally allows Thor to be happy and we can't help but smile and celebrate with the strongest Avenger in his most important hour. He's all grown up and has become the God he was always destined to be, full of Love and Thunder. 

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