Thor: Love and Thunder

Thor: Love and Thunder ★½

Even as he’s become more overexposed and unfortunately beholden to Disney properties (for whatever reason), I’ve remained a Taika fan. For my money, “What We Do In The Shadows” is one of the most rewatchable comedies of the past decade. “Boy” and “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” are both jewels. I even mostly still like “Thor: Ragnarok,” that loony glam-disco ball disguised as a piece of flashy Marvel machinery. This new adventure showcases the inherent risk in the in-house MCU approach that Taika takes to its next logical extreme: when nothing matters and literally everything is a punchline, what is there to latch on to?

Nearly every joke in “Love and Thunder” feels strained, from the screaming goats to Natalie Portman’s character’s inability to come up with a catchphrase. Even by the standards of these movies, this one looks like shit. There’s one nifty set piece where the film shifts teasingly to black and white after drowning itself out in a glittering, puke-pink candy-coated color scheme, and Christian Bale brings an authentic sense of necrotic menace to Gorr the God Butcher, ultimately making him one of the MCU’s most memorable villains. In the end, though, it’s more of the same numbing corporate sludge, just served with a side of Guns N’ Roses this time. Never feels good to have the idea of a fun time forcefully shoved down your throat.

Also, I’m not sure why Gorr is the bad guy here, other than that movie’s politics are more insidious than they let on, which is obviously par for the course with Marvel. A working-class single dad who becomes radicalized after losing his daughter due to the callous, greedy indifference of the privileged Gods? Fuck it, man. I’m on Gorr’s side. Fuck these superheroes. Burn it all down and let’s start fresh, eh?

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