Sunday, July 10, 2022

Thor: Love and Thunder


Based on the Marvel Comics series by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Larry Lieber and the Mighty Thor storyline by Jason Aaron, Thor: Love and Thunder is the story of the titular God of Thunder who goes on a journey for inner peace as well as helping the universe with the Guardians of the Galaxy only to go on a journey to deal with a god-killing villain as he seeks the help from a few allies including his former girlfriend Jane Foster who has become the Mighty Thor. Directed by Taika Waititi and screenplay by Waititi and Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, the film is the fourth in a series that explores the Asgardian God who not only deals with many issues including grief but also trying to find himself as well as deal with the fact that his former girlfriend has become a superhero as both Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman reprise their respective roles as Thor and Jane Foster/the Mighty Thor. Also starring Christian Bale, Tessa Thompson, Taika Waititi, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Sean Gunn, Pom Klementieff, Jaimie Alexander, with the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, and Russell Crowe as Zeus. Thor: Love and Thunder is an exhilarating and witty film from Taika Waititi.

In the years after defeating Thanos and saving the universe, the film follows Thor Odinson going on a journey for inner peace as he learns that gods are being killed by a madman where he returns to New Asgard and learns this new foe’s intentions prompting Thor to seek help including his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster who has become the Mighty Thor. It is a film that explore a man who is still dealing with the loss of loved ones as he spends some time trying to help others until he learns about the death of a god where he found one of his old friends in Lady Sif (Jaime Alexander) wounded from her fight as he brings her home to New Asgard where things are already problematic involving shadow creatures trying to destroy New Asgard where Thor and the rock-like creature Korg (Taika Waititi) helps King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) as they’re aided by a new ally in the Mighty Thor who is revealed to be Jane Foster.

The film’s screenplay by Taika Waititi and Jennifer Katyin Robinson is messy in terms of the many genres they try to put in as well as some backstory and exposition. Still, Waititi and Robinson do create a compelling narrative that do play into this element of comedy and tragedy as the opening scene play into the latter as it relates to the origin of Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale) who was an ordinary man with a daughter (India Rose Hemsworth) where he prayed to the Gods for water in a desolate desert only for his daughter to die. Seeing that the god Rapu (Jonathan Brugh) treats him with indifference, Gorr finds the god-killing weapon known as Necrosword where makes a vow to kill all gods as the script does succeed in justifying some of Gorr’s actions which also forces Thor to see that some of the gods he idolized including Zeus are living in a bubble who prefer to not be involved in war and just do nothing. By kidnapping the children of New Asgard that includes Heimdall’s son Axl (Keiron L. Dyer) whom Thor can communicate with through Axl’s powers. Thor, Valkyrie, Korg, and Jane go on a journey to find the kids while there’s also something else happening as it relates to Jane wielding the newly-fixed Mjolnir as she is also dying from stage 4 cancer which adds a lot more emotional weight for Thor.

Waititi’s direction does bear a lot of style in terms of the different worlds that Thor and all of the principle characters go to but it is also grounded in this idea of what a god should be as it play into Thor’s own personal journey. Shot largely on locations at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney as well as some locations in and around Sydney, Waititi definitely creates different worlds that Thor, Jane, Korg, and Valkyrie go into with New Asgard being a character in the film as a world that isn’t just a tourist destination but also a home that allow Asgardians and other alien refugees a place where they can belong. While Waititi does create some unique wide and medium shots to capture a scope of these locations as well as a few scenes inside the Guardians of the Galaxy ship known as The Milano where Thor gains a couple of goats as they would accompany him and his team to an adventure. Still, Waititi does ground things as the first act does reveal what Jane was up to before as she is trying to find a way to stop her illness while some of Korg’s flashback montages do showcase how Mjolnir was in the hands of Jane.

The direction does also play into the stakes where Waititi do play into why Gorr has a point in wanting to kill all gods as it does relate to Thor pleading to Zeus and other gods to join him to stop Gorr. It is a commentary on why it is wrong to worship false idols with Thor being an idol that not only wants to help people and keep the universe safe but is also someone trying to understand who and what he needs to fight for based on advice from Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) early in the film. Though the presentation of the script is uneven in its attempt to balance comedy and tragedy that is part of Waititi’s own exploration of existential meaning in these two subjects. It does have stakes where it would play into this confrontation between Thor and Gorr with the latter wanting to reach this mysterious being with Thor knowing what he will do with Jane taking a major step of her own knowing that it might cost her own life as she and Thor both have to realize what it means to fight for love at all cost. Overall, Waititi crafts an adventurous and heartfelt film about a god trying to find peace of mind while having to fight a man that wants to kill all gods.

Cinematographer Barry Idoine does excellent work with the film’s cinematography with its emphasis on natural lighting for some of the daytime exterior scenes set in New Asgard as well as some stylish lighting including some black-and-white lighting for a scene set in Gorr’s home that is the Shadow Realm. Editors Matthew Schmidt, Peter S. Elliot, Tom Roche, and Jennifer Vecchiarello do terrific work with the editing as it is stylish in terms of some of the fast-cuts for the action and humor while also keeping things straightforward in some of the dramatic and suspenseful moments. Production designer Nigel Phelps, with set decorator Katie Sharrock and supervising art director Charlie Revai, does incredible work with the set design from the look of New Asgard in its houses and such as well as the look of Omnipotence City where all of the gods including Zeus live in. Costume designer Mayes C. Rubeo does fantastic work with the costumes that includes new armor for Thor as well as a new leather jacket as well as the armor for Jane and Valkyrie plus the ridiculous clothing that Zeus wears.

Makeup designer Matteo Silvi and creature/prosthetics designer Adam Johansen do brilliant work with the look of Gorr as well as some of the looks for the Olympians including Zeus. Special effects supervisor Dan Oliver, with visual effects supervisors Mathieu Assemat and Dominic Drane, does nice work with the look of some of the planets and space scenery as well as the look of the goats Thor gained in saving a planet as they would become his pets. Sound designers David C. Hughes, Samson Neslund, and Steve Orlando, with sound editor Quianbaihui Yang, do superb work with the sound as it play into some of the sound effects including the comical sounds from the goats as well as other sounds that play into the action and suspense. The film’s music by Michael Giacchino and Nami Melumad is phenomenal for its rock-based orchestral score that feature metal-inspired guitars and bombastic string arrangements to play into the scope of the film while music supervisor Dave Jordan creates a fun music soundtrack that features an original song by Waititi as Korg plus music from ABBA, Ciara with Petey Pablo, Enya, Michael Raphael, Mary J. Blige, Dio, and four songs by Guns N’ Roses.

The casting by Sarah Halley Finn is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles and cameos from Stephen Curry as a God in King Yakan whom Thor and the Guardians help early in the film, Carly Rees in a motion-capture performance as Valkyrie’s assistant Miek, Jonathan Brugh as the god Gorr worshipped in Rapu, Zia Kelly as a former girlfriend of Thor in a pirate girl, Elsa Pataky as another former flame of Thor in the Wolf Woman, Tristan Hemsworth as a young Thor, Samson Alston as the teenage Thor, Eliza Matengu as Axl’s mother Grace, Ava Caryofyllis as a young Jane, Simon Russell Beale as the god Dionysus, Akosia Sabet as the Wakandan goddess Bast, Jenny Morris as an New Asgardian resident, India Rose Hemsworth as Gorr’s daughter, and in the various roles of the Asgardian children kidnapped include Aleph and Amalia Millipied, Te Kainga O’Te Hinekahu Waititi, Sasha Hemsworth, and Rex Bale. Other notable cameos in the role of the Asgardian theatre troupe include Matt Damon as the actor playing Loki, Luke Hemsworth as the actor playing Thor, Sam Neill as the actor playing Odin, Melissa McCarthy as the actress playing Hela, and Ben Falcone as the stage manager.

Other noteworthy small roles include Kieron L. Dyer as Heimdall’s son Axl who is among one of the Asgardian children kidnapped as he has inherited his father’s powers while Daley Pearson is funny in his small role as Thor’s former roommate Darryl who is now a tour guide. Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgard are terrific in their brief appearances as Dr. Darcy Lewis and Dr. Erik Selvig as two of Jane’s longtime colleagues who are there for her early in the film as they’re concerned with her ailing health. Jaime Alexander is superb in her own brief appearance as Thor’s childhood friend Lady Sif who is severely wounded from her own fight with Gorr as Thor would get her home to safety. In the roles of the Guardians of the Galaxy, the performances of Sean Gunn as Kraglin, Pom Klementieff as Mantis, the voice of Bradley Cooper as Rocket, the voice of Vin Diesel as Groot, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Dave Bautista as Drax, and Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord are fun to watch as they get to kill bad guys while dealing with Thor’s own issues with Pratt being the person to give Thor some needed advice on fulfillment and love.

Taika Waititi is excellent in his motion-capture performance as the rock-monster Korg who is a fun comic relief that is always helpful and provide some comical insight into Thor’s own existential issues. Russell Crowe is hilarious in his performance as the god Zeus where he has this larger-than-life persona while doing one of the worst accents ever presented on film that just adds to how ridiculous the character is. Tessa Thompson is amazing as King Valkyrie as a former warrior turned King of Asgard who is hoping to have another adventure as a distraction from bureaucratic duties while finding a sense of sisterhood with Jane that she never thought she would have again. Christian Bale is incredible as Gorr the God Butcher as a man who is dismissed by a god only to take up the Necrosword that would make him into a man that has justified reasons to kill gods while is also a character filled with some unique humor as well as be an imposing and intimidating foe.

Natalie Portman is phenomenal as Jane Foster/the Mighty Thor as the astrophysicist who is dying from cancer until she learns that the damaged Mjolnir calls to her where she becomes the Mighty Thor as she adjust to her newfound powers where Portman brings a lot of complexity but also humor in trying to find a catchphrase that is suited to her character. Finally, there’s Chris Hemsworth in a sensational performance as Thor Odinson as the God of Thunder who is embarking on a journey for peace of mind following loss and grief where he deals with not just Gorr but also Jane becoming worthy of the Mjolnir where he does what he can to save the children of New Asgard. Hemsworth brings a lot of humor to his performance but also a lot of humility as his scenes with Portman definitely showcase a lot of chemistry in which both characters grow with Hemsworth learning what he needs to do and why he needs to be the God that people can count on.

Thor: Love and Thunder is a remarkable film from Taika Waititi that features great performances from Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Tessa Thompson, Waititi, and Russell Crowe. Along with the rest of its ensemble cast, dazzling visuals, study on idol worship, and a killer music soundtrack with the rocking music of Guns N’ Roses. It is a film that doesn’t just deliver in high-stake action and suspense but is also filled with humor but also some commentary on fulfillment through love despite some tonal issues with the film’s script. In the end, Thor: Love and Thunder is a marvelous film from Taika Waititi.

Taika Waititi Films: Two Cars, One Night - Eagle vs. Shark - Boy (2010 film) - What We Do in the Shadows - Hunt for the Wilderpeople - Jojo Rabbit - Next Goal Wins (2023 film) - (Klara and the Sun) – The Auteurs #64: Taika Waititi

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Infinity Saga: Phase One: Iron Man - The Incredible Hulk - Iron Man 2 - Thor - Captain America: The First Avenger - The Avengers

Phase Two: Iron Man 3 - Thor: The Dark World - Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Guardians of the Galaxy - The Avengers: Age of Ultron - Ant-Man

Phase Three: Captain America: Civil War - Doctor Strange - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Spider-Man: Homecoming - Thor: Ragnarok - Black Panther - Avengers: Infinity War - Ant-Man and the Wasp - Captain Marvel - Avengers: Endgame - Spider-Man: Far from Home

Multiverse Saga: Phase Four: Black Widow - Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings - Eternals - Spider-Man: No Way Home - Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness - Werewolf by Night - Black Panther: Wakanda Forever - The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

Phase Five: Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3The Marvels – (Deadpool 3) - (Captain America: Brave New World)

Phase 6: (Thunderbolts) – (Blade (2024 film)) - (Fantastic Four (2024 film)) – (Avengers: The Kang Dynasty) – (Avengers: Secret Wars)

© thevoid99 2022


Brittani Burnham said...

I love how Crowe played Zeus. We don't often get full on drunk Greek Zeus. It worked.

Ruth said...

I think I like this less than you but agreed that Bale was phenomenal here and that GNR rockin' soundtrack is mighty awesome!!

Boy I missed a bunch of the cameos, including Stephen Curry in the beginning. It must have been a party on set!

thevoid99 said...

@Brittani-I never thought I would enjoy seeing Russell Crowe in something like this. He was so ridiculous throughout that entire scene as I couldn't help but laugh my ass off. I think Taika just told him to just have some fun and do the worst accent he can think of. All of a sudden, it is as if we're seeing a new side of him and I want more of Crowe doing stupid shit as I think it will give him a chance to take himself less seriously and just enjoy himself.

@Ruth-It's not in my top films of the MCU but I had fun with it. I did enjoy those cameos as I think part of Taika's approach to filmmaking isn't just to tell a story but have fun telling it. Even as Taika and the actors brought their kids into the movie because they wanted them to join in the fun. It was made during the pandemic and no parent wants to be away from the kids so why not include them in making something fun.