Superhero motion pictures are like guitar solos. They could be a bit noodly, and have a tendency to go on a bit too lengthy — however after they’re accomplished excellent, they completely soar, imbued with the sort of pleasure and wild abandon that makes you are feeling alive. Thor: Love And Thunder — Taika Waititi’s iridescent follow-up to the irreverent Ragnarok — is a giddy, gleaming guitar solo of a film; a celebratory blast of color, vitality and emotion. It even has a guitar solo — opening with a shredding, squealing, Wyld Stallyns-style model of the Marvel Studios fanfare.
Final time round, Waititi’s mission was to make Thor actually, correctly cool — ditching the high-fantasy jargon and redundant sidekicks of the Norse God’s earlier outings for a cosmic, campy area opera with lashings of self-deprecating humour and Jeff Goldblum as a gold-robed space-tyrant. Loads of Ragnarok’s raucous DNA stays in Love And Thunder, cranked to even higher heights: Waititi’s personal rib-tickling rock-man Korg now steps up as narrator, the Technicolor palette is overhauled in even lighter pastel hues, and this time it’s Russell Crowe’s flip to chop free, his Zeus a preening prat of a Greek god.
Portman makes a superb Marvel comeback, given extra to play with right here than in all her earlier appearances.
However in some ways, it’s a distinct beast. The place Ragnarok generally teetered in the direction of a tone of self-satisfaction, Taika Waititi is at his greatest when being really weak — offsetting the barrage of winking gags with explorations of loss, loneliness and inadequacy (see: Hunt For The Wilderpeople and Boy). Love And Thunder does simply that. It’s, appropriately, a movie about love in all its varieties — about its transformative and regenerative powers, and the way empty life can really feel with out it. The movie capitalises on the occasions of Avengers: Endgame superbly — much less within the team-up between Thor and the Guardians (a blast to look at, however they half methods pretty early on), extra in coping with the grief, self-hatred and guilt that the God Of Thunder is wading by. That void, that vacancy, Waititi posits, is worse than the ache that love can carry.
A lot of affection’s sting comes from the reintroduction of Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster. Taking inspiration from Jason Aaron’s comics run, Foster isn’t simply again — she’s additionally wielding Mjolnir (whose new tips make for a slew of ‘holy crap’ motion beats) within the guise of The Mighty Thor. Largely forgotten by the MCU post-Thor: The Darkish World, Portman makes a superb Marvel comeback, given extra to play with right here than in all her earlier appearances. She, too, will get to be weak, wrestling with life’s largest challenges whereas taking part in a Thor with little or no expertise of, properly, being Thor.
If something will get a tad misplaced within the combine, it’s Gorr The God Butcher. Taken from a distinct Aaron comics run, the deathly deity-slayer isn’t fairly as foreboding as he’s on the web page, and jostles for area amongst Thor and associates (Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, too, comes out shortchanged) — although Christian Bale’s ghoulishly odd efficiency means he’s no Malekith-esque dud. Plus, Gorr’s connection to the Shadow Realm means he’s liable for a number of the movie’s most putting visible moments — all color draining from the body in his presence, our heroes’ powers punctuating the gloom in neon bursts.
In so some ways, for largely higher and sometimes worse (a jaunt to All-powerful Metropolis drags a contact), Thor: Love And Thunder is a deeply bizarre, deeply great triumph. It’s a film that dares to be significantly uncool, and in some way finally ends up all of the cooler for it — sidesplittingly humorous, surprisingly sentimental, and so tonally daring that it’s a miracle it doesn’t collapse. The Gorr-centric cold-open is as darkish because the MCU will get, however that is additionally a Thor romcom with a loved-up ABBA montage, and a Viking longboat pulled by area by a pair of gigantic screaming goats (who practically run away with the movie). It’s a film about midlife disaster that feels such as you’re watching one in motion, with its gourmand gods, superb intergalactic biker-chicken battle, and Weapons N’ Roses galore (the ‘November Rain’ solo is deployed completely). And are available the closing reel, when the true which means of its title is unveiled, it leaves our hero in a spot so candy and shocking, you’ll be really moved. It’s a Taika Waititi film, then — we may watch his cinematic guitar solos all day.