THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER movie poster | ©2022 Marvel Studios

THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER movie poster | ©2022 Marvel Studios

Rating: PG-13
Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Taika Waititi (voice), Russell Crowe
Writers: Taika Waititi & Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, story by Taika Waititi
Director: Taika Waititi
Distributor: Disney/Marvel
Release Date: July 8, 2022

Because these elements are on the poster for THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER, it’s presumably not too spoilery to say the following:

First of all, for those who saw Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Asgardian god of thunder, being miserable and out of shape in the last AVENGERS film, he quickly regains the muscular physique so popular with sculptors of ancient deities. He also wields a new weapon.

Second, we know that Thor’s usual weapon, the magical hammer Mjølnir, had shattered in the climax of the AVENGERS films. Again, as the poster reveals, Mjølnir becomes whole again and winds up in the hands of Thor’s ex, Earth-born scientist Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Wielding the hammer comes with an Asgardian super-suit and the job title Thor, it seems.

Third, the warrior Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Thor’s old rocklike alien prison pal Korg (voiced by THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER director/co-writer Taika Waititi) are back to offer an assist.

Fourth, there’s a very creepy cowled antagonist, Gorr (Christian Bale). He earns his moniker “The God Butcher” with a vengeance.

Hemsworth as always is well up to the task of embodying Thor, who has a genuinely good soul beneath the muscles and unselfconscious ego. He can be downright silly, and yet we believe him when he’s sincere.

Portman is fine in all of Jane’s aspects, and Thompson is a solid superhero. Russell Crowe looks like he’s having a great time, and maybe saved up to do what he does here.

There are the expected (as in, we fully anticipate something of the sort) and surprising (as in, we have no idea who or what) character and actor cameos throughout, several of them delightful.

As with 2017’s THOR: RAGNAROK, Waititi is back in the director’s chair for THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER, this time co-scripting with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson from his story. LOVE AND THUNDER shares a lot of RAGNAROK’s sensibilities, with comedy, farce, drama, tragedy, action, and a few bizarro elements thrown in for good measure.

Waititi has demonstrated that he’s handy with this blend, though some scenes of WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS-worthy absurdity arguably stretch out a bit here. The action zings and zips, and provides some suspense, and the scenes meant to be frightening are properly scary.

The filmmakers also come up with a smart story device for bringing viewers who may have missed installments up to speed. Additionally, there’s a pre-emptive onscreen explanation for what would otherwise be a big question in at least one upcoming MCU movie.

Waititi and his creative team do something structurally that’s impressive and touching, thematically paying off an uncommonly stark opening. Viewers should also stick around (as is common with Marvel movies) for mid- and post-credits scenes.

THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER is mostly good, entertaining fun. People who’ve enjoyed previous outings with the god of thunder should be happy with this one.

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