A complete tonal blunder
Ever since Avengers: Endgame, Marvel have struggled for momentum. Wandavision started Phase 4 off relatively well, despite its skewed morality, followed by lackluster efforts in Falcon, Loki and Moon Knight. The latter of which heavily borrowing elements from Legion.
Multiverse of Madness then used the ol’ switch and bait to reel people in for a Doctor Stranger movie, only for us to get Wandavision Part 2. Finally we have Ms. Marvel, a tween drama on Disney+ that may be doing well with critics, but only managing to bag a shocking 750,000 viewers in the first 5 days, less than half of the lowest watched MCU series on the platform, Hawkeye. It seems the Marvel gravy train is just starting to come off the tracks.
Love and Thunder then feels like another big bump in the road, a film that toys with some interesting ideas but constantly undermines itself with silly jokes, poor characterisation and some truly baffling visuals. If you thought the graphics in the Star Wars prequels looked bad, you’re in for a rude wakening with this one.
Characters regularly walk toward the camera, shot from the front to disguise the fact this is being filmed on a sound stage. The lighting for these foreground characters is weirdly off-kilter, with some of the night scenes particularly egregious in this respect.
That’s to say nothing of the depth of field which almost looks like these characters have been copy and pasted into the film over a background. It’s like watching a cartoon where the watercolour backgrounds contrast to the brighter foreground items.
I’m trying not to get too geeky here because I’m sure some people won’t care. But given this movie has a budget of $250 million, the fact that so much of this looks cheap, right down to wonky animations (including a hilariously bad scene of Valkyrie jumping into her ship), it feels inexcusable.
The story itself centers on Thor “finding himself”…again. He’s desperate to find his purpose…again. While simultaneously feeling lost and unsure where his future lies… again.
As the tale begins, we get a big dollop of exposition as Korg tells a story about Fat Thor getting back into shape and battling alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy. Don’t get too comfy on this though, the Guardians are in this for around 10-15 minutes tops before Thor turns his attention to a new world-ending threat – Gorr the God Butcher.
Thanks to a neat little prologue and some pretty good character development, Gorr is one of the better elements of this movie – and certainly a competent antagonist. He’s nowhere near the best the MCU have put out, but he’s also not a complete joke like Mandarin was in Iron Man III. The problem is, Gorr’s very relatable and serious stakes are undermined constantly by the tone of this film, which flits between farcical and misfire comedy.
In essence, the main plot involves Thor teaming up with Jane Foster aka. Mighty Thor (more on that in a minute), King Valkyrie and Korg to recruit some Gods and fight back against Gorr the Butcher, who threatens to kill them all, with his motivations stemming from simple vengeance against the Gods. The fate of the universe hangs in the balance, complete with obligatory CGI monsters and a big fight at the end.
It’s all very cliched MCU stuff at this point, and although there isn’t a complete bait and switch with Thor and Mighty Thor, there are some pretty head-scratching decisions in this film regarding those characters. And once again, the questionable Marvel morality comes into play.
Early on we learn Jane Foster is a brilliant scientist and has been “saving the world” down on Earth through her research. However, she’s also crippled with cancer and is undergoing chemo.
When she reads about Mjolnir and how it can grant her “stamina” and “good health”, she heads off, believing the shattered remnants of Mjolnir are calling out to her.
So in her completely selfish ambitions to prolong her own life and better herself, she somehow becomes worthy to wield Thor’s hammer. And that’s it, that’s all the explanation we get.
To be fair, there is a nice moment between Jane and Thor later on in the film that goes a little deeper but those expecting a more thorough explanation and exactly why Mjolnir picked her will be left disappointed.
The weak character development is only hampered further by the jokes which are, well, a mixed bag at best. There are a few laughs at play but everything feels so dumbed down and silly that it belies belief. It also doesn’t help that the comedic timing regularly undermines the stakes of the entire movie. Even late on, during the final confrontation with Gorr, jokes are regularly traded and it completely nullifies the threat.
The jokes themselves are a tired mix of tropes (haha, you need a breath mint!) to absurdist humour that doesn’t work. Want to see Thor ride on Stormbreaker like a broomstick? How about a character cracking a big joke before they die? These moments completely destroy any semblance of seriousness this film could have used, which is a shame because the pieces are right there for an emotionally engaging plot.
The other issue comes from that aforementioned morality of its characters. This is something Marvel has struggled with and Thor: Love and Thunder only typifies that further. Remember Wanda’s bloodthirsty mission to gain revenge on those who have wronged her family? Wanting to kill anyone who steps in her way only to be forgiven for that because she was always destined to “do what’s right?”
Well, in Love and Thunder, Gorr the God Butcher’s mission is also to gain revenge on those who have wronged his family. He wants to make the Gods pay…but yet he’s an out and out villain. Morality sure is hard for those MCU writers!
Some of this may have been easy to overlook if Thor was a decent character but once more his persona has been utterly butchered here. Remember that scene in American Pie where Jim walks over to Nadia, laughs awkwardly and walks away? Yeah that’s basically Thor in this movie.
He’s an oaf for the most part; the butt joke of his own film (both figuratively and quite literally) as well as a tonally confused hero. In fact, he spends more time emotionally engaging with his hammers than he does Jane Foster.
Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with comedic levity. Hell, some of the most serious films have managed to offset that with a well-tempered joke at the right moment. Unfortunately, Thor: Love and Thunder picks the complete wrong times to make a joke. And then it layers that inappropriate joke with another joke on top of it. All this humour only works to undermine any threat Gorr may have posed, and ultimately makes a mockery of Thor Odinson, who has less of an arc than Jane Foster, who – alongside Gorr – is probably the only one with something that resembles a good character arc.
Thor: Love and Thunder isn’t the worst Marvel movie released, but it’s certainly one of the weakest; a tepid, green-screen heavy monstrosity that tries and fails to hammer home the same joke repeatedly. In the end, the only joke here is Love and Thunder.
Read More: Thor: Love and Thunder Ending Explained
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Verdict - 3/10
1 thought on “Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) Movie Review – A complete tonal blunder”
Thor: Love and Thunder was a waste of time and money. I want a HERO Thor who wins. I don’t have a problem with Lady Thor. Or even the GnR “Rock of Ages” “rock opera” soundtrack but can we stop the stupid “cute” jokes. Ant-man sucks already — leave Thor out of it. Taika Waititi needs to stop doing this to superhero movies. Thor 4 is a jumbled mess of storylines, theatre acting (after the play was over) and a spoof upon itself.