4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:
Street Date 9/27/22;
Sci-Fi Fantasy Action;
Box Office $ 343.15 million;
$29.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $43.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language, some suggestive material and partial nudity.
Stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Christian Bale, Taika Waititi, Russell Crowe.
Imagine a story that tackles subjects such as cancer, religious fundamentalism and child endangerment, tied together by a tongue-in-cheek intergalactic Viking adventure, and you’ll get some sense of the wacky roller coaster ride that is Thor: Love and Thunder.
Taika Waititi returns to the director’s chair after injecting his signature irreverence into 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, and tries to make Love and Thunder a similarly breezy, lighthearted romp. However, the darker themes this time around end up clashing with an abundance of jokes and situational humor, leading to some jarring tonal shifts as the film progresses through its various plot points. Then again, the guy who won an Oscar for writing a movie about a German boy who has Hitler as an imaginary friend probably thought he could pull it off. Or maybe he just felt like making a two-hour video tribute to his favorite band, Guns N’ Roses.
To be fair, the degree the film works at all can be attributed to Waititi’s skills as a storyteller and his ability to keep such disparate elements from spinning out of control. It certainly has its moments and the cast seems to have had a good time making it. However, the biggest strength of the film is not its story but its visual splendor. Thor: Love and Thunder looks spectacular, from colorful costumes to and exotic locales, to a surrealist black-and-white realm of shadows and monsters (which were designed by the children of the filmmakers, according to Waititi).
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Picking up from where we last saw him in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has been traveling with the Guardians of the Galaxy, but finds himself consumed with self-doubt.
He gets a chance to snap back into action when he learns that deities throughout the universe are being slaughtered by Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who declares his next target will be the Asgardian refugees now living on Earth.
Upon his return, Thor learns that his former love, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), has now gained her own Thor powers thanks to a newfound ability to wield his old hammer. Her transformation into “Mighty Thor” temporarily protects her from stage four cancer, but also negates any treatments her mortal self is receiving, so the illness becomes more aggressive each time she transforms back.
When he can’t defeat the combined forces of the two Thors, Gorr ends up kidnapping the children of Asgard. So Thor, Jane, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Korg (Waititi) embark on a mission to enlist the help of Zeus (Russell Crowe), free the children and defeat Gorr once and for all.
It’s definitely the kind of plot that makes more sense to those who have been enmeshed in the MCU for a while. The screenplay adapts a few different story arcs from the “Thor” comics, so reaction to the film may tend to vary based on the viewers’ familiarity with the source material — those who just follow the MCU versions of the characters might enjoy it more, as hardcore fans of the comics usually get more annoyed by changes made in translating a story from page to screen.
Of course, even from the perspective of the continuing adventures of Thor and his supporting cast in the movies, things feel a bit off. It’s nice to see an attempt at resolving the Thor/Jane relationship after she was absent in Ragnarok, and the New Asgard scenes have some fun references in them. But the ending feels like it was constructed in order to fulfill a number of contractual obligations to most of the main actors.
Love and Thunder is a bit of a milestone for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as Thor becomes the first character to score a fourth solo movie. But as the 29th MCU film, it continues the franchise’s general malaise since Endgame, meandering through an undefined bigger picture while the most-lasting impact of recent entries has been the introduction of numerous children and young adult heroes to seemingly serve as the next-generation of the Avengers when the storylines eventually come to a head again.
The Love and Thunder Blu-ray includes a standard set of bonus materials (The 4K disc has no extras on its own — they are contained on the regular Blu-ray in the combo pack).
The highlight is a commentary track from Waititi, who reveals all sorts of fun information about the film and kicks up the hijinks when he’s joined by his two young daughters.
Behind-the-scenes information is also presented in three short featurettes: the eight-minute “Another Classic Taika Adventure,” about Waititi’s return to the franchise; the six-minute “Shaping a Villain,” about Bale’s performance; and the five-and-a-half-minute “Hammer-Worthy: Thor and Mighty Thor,” about Portman’s return, and her and Hemsworth’s preparations for the physicality of their roles.
In addition, there are four deleted scenes that run just under eight minutes in total that provide some additional if superfluous context for scenes that are in the final film.
Rounding out the extras is a three-minute gag reel.