Thor four more Thor
Up until now I haven't been the biggest fan of the Thor series by any stretch of the imagination. I thought that Thor and Thor: The Dark World were fine at best (which to be fair is better than what most seem to think) and I downright hated Thor: Ragnarok aside from a few good scenes. So you might think that Thor: Love and Thunder would be one that I probably wouldn't like and to be fair I was convinced that would be the case too. I wasn't a fan of what I felt was an overly juvenile attempt on Taika Waititi's part to ram Ragnarok full of as many one-liners and innuendo based gags, which was a shame because I'm a big fan of the majority of his other work. I'm more than happy to say that it felt like the perfect balance between thoughtful writing and humour has been found in Love and Thunder.
Love and Thunder is possibly the most visually pleasing MCU film to date, and is probably on a par with the Doctor Strange films as the most interesting looking film. The use of The Volume means that we see the best looking environment effects in the MCU as well, which based on the use of it in this movie is very exciting for the space based movies such as Guardians of the Galaxy and The Marvels. Part of the film takes place in "the Shadow Realm" and for the ten minutes we spend there we're treated to the most gorgeous colour drained, crisp, black and white sequence in what is just one of the many insanely creative aspects of this movie. This isn't it either, there were many really interesting locationd sprinkled throughout the runtime. While the Shadow Realm is unlikely to be seen again the visuals of it make me extremely hopeful for the future of the MCU and its creative direction. The whole look of the film is extremely reminiscent of the distinct Jack Kirby style that Marvel fans have been wanting so see for so long.
The fourth Thor entry is one of the most action packed films we've seen in the long running comic book movie franchise yet. Almost immediately we're thrown into the action as Thor teams up with the Guardians of the Galaxy on their travels, after this the action rarely lets up. The team up in question leads to a fight that is somehow both funny and properly badass, and while I don't think it would work in many other scenarios I think it was absolutely perfect for this. None of that is to say that there is only one memorable action sequence either, every single fight scene feels unique and interesting as the movie manages to pile on fight after fight without it ever getting tiring. Without giving away minor spoilers it's hard to explain how, but Gorr and his powerset manages to make every fight compelling and fresh despite barely being a physical threat at all to the heroes which is a huge testament to how amazing the visual effects department and Christian Bale's performance were.
In fact it's about time we touch on the villain. As mentioned Christian Bale turns in a spectacular performance as Gorr the God Butcher, but to be fair nobody expected any different. It might sound sacrilegious to say but I think Bale was better as Gorr than he ever was in the Dark Knight trilogy, his performance was at points (but by no means always) very similar to Heath Ledger's Joker which I felt was extremely unexpected and interesting but it hugely pays off. For several years now I've been tired of this constant attempt to create sympathetic villains in these films (just let a bad guy be bad), but Gorr was the first time in which I've felt it was actually convincingly done. Every other "sympathetic villain" such as Killmonger and Thanos start out with a very loosely understandable motivation but it very quickly becomes clear that they actually would just be better off not killing millions of people for it (Tchalla's approach to world diplomacy at the end of Black Panther and the idea of Thanos just doubling resources are both infinitely more convincing), for Gorr I felt that his arc was compelling and convincing from start to finish.
The heroes in this are great as well, much better than was the case in Ragnarok. Thor continues to grow as a character as Taika Waititi continues to show that he understands this character than anyone that worked on Endgame does, the stupidly named "Bro Thor" is dropped immediately and thank god (something you'd never hear Gorr saying). Chris Hemsworth gets another chance to showcase his comedy skills while also delivering some genuinely emotional moments especially when on screen with Natalie Portman's Jane Foster. The Mighty Thor a.k.a Dr Jane Foster makes a slightly rushed but triumphant return to the Marvel universe. Her introduction felt very rushed and could have done with a lot more fleshing out, but I can forgive that as once she was in the mix they waste absolutely no time in bringing her up to speed with the other heroes by giving her some great action scenes and some really thoughtful and emotional moments. Korg and King Valkyrie are also back and both fare much better as the slightly more well-rounded characters they have become in this one. Again without spoiling it I can't say much more but the way this film ends for Korg was one of the most surprising but genuinely amazing things they could have done and is very in keeping with the extremely positive and progressive message Waititi pours into every piece of work he approaches. Before moving on from characters I do have to give a shoutout to Russel Crowe for some of the worst accent work I've ever seen in my life, it's up there with Ray Winstone's attempts at a Russian accent in Black Widow.
Love and Thunder moves at an absolute zip and while it's two hours long it barely felt over an hour, it left me wanting so much more. It's not only my favourite Thor movie but also one of my favourite MCU films full stop. I also can't end this review without mentioning how brilliant the ending was in every way, it resolved the plot in a surprisingly heartwarming way whilst also teasing some potentially excellent future Thor adventures with a new completely unexpected companion.
On the podcast we give our verdict based on whether the movie is better or worse than Morbius and so it's time to give the verdict here. Thor: Love and Thunder is resoundingly better than Morbius in every conceivable way.