Warning; This Thor: Love and Thunder 4K review contains spoilers.
Although it was successful at the box office, Thor: Love and Thunder didn’t fare quite as well with online fans. Some skepticism, it deserved: as our initial review pointed out. The script contains significant gaps in the plot that might have papered over awkward transitions. The final cut just hopes we don’t notice that powers and motives can come across somewhat arbitrary. Another pass on the story surely could have fixed things. To cite one of many issues, why can’t Gorr simply wish both himself and his daughter back to health at the end? Nobody said anything about limits to a wish that he planned to use to kill every god in the universe.
It’s also possible audiences felt a bit of Taika Waititi overkill. Since directing Thor: Ragnarok, the director and actor has popped up everywhere, some more welcome than others. His MCU character Korg, who was at best a two-joke character to begin with, feels like he has officially worn out his welcome. And the ending of this film suggests that even Waititi finally knows it. Freshening Korg up by making him a mere talking face for half of the film is at least a change.
Yet upon second viewing, it seems like some exaggeration has entered fan perceptions. So many of the jokes and gags are writ so large — like the screaming goats — that it’s easy to feel like they dominate the whole story. In fact, there’s at least as much serious stuff. Both Christian Bale’s Gorr and Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster run parallel, doomed tracks with a power source that also drains their lives. And they effectively cancel each other out at the end, like opposite signs of an equation, by sacrificing themselves for love. Waititi’s script, co-written with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, isn’t deft enough to do much with that parallel, or render it as any significant commentary on duality. Like that last wish, it feels just out of reach. But it’s not nothing.
Still, Gorr serial-killing across the universe and Jane battling cancer need some silliness to counterbalance the omnipresent death. Some might argue Russell Crowe’s Greek-accented Zeus is a step too far. But depending upon which Greek mythology is chosen, Zeus can come across as quite the foolish horndog. Perhaps there’s not enough balance. Zeus never seems threatening enough to banish anyone to Tartarus. At least Jeff Goldblum had a melting stick. Zeus has a thunderbolt, but it works better against him than for him.
Chris Hemsworth’s Thor seems to have regressed in intelligence, but his chemistry with Portman is still there. This makes some of Thor’s obliviousness explainable as a revived crush. Frankly, seeing Portman as a superheroine will engender many a crush in the audience. Love and Thunder feels no more or less a love story than the first two Thor films. But because Waititi’s Ragnarok wasn’t a love story, it must seem new to him.
Early in the film, Thor speaks about “another classic Thor adventure” in referring to an incident that’s anything but. The parallels need no comment. The movie at hand is no classic, but it’s also no disaster. Thor and Jane get the closure they needed, and Thor faces down a worthy foe at the center of the universe.
The Love and Thunder 4K disc features a rich array of shadows and black levels, particularly when Shadow Demons are involved. The first battle in the Shadow Realm, in largely in black and white, but with hints of color and clouds of particulate matter. It looks especially sharp, like an actual black and white comic rather than pure gray-scale, and akin to Zack Snyder’s Justice League: Justice Is Gray edition. Viewed on Blu-ray, some of those scenes have brighter colors, but the rest of the shadows simply look overexposed and forcibly digitally lightened. The sound is outstanding, with subtle whispers from the Necrosword into Gorr’s ear long before we even see it or know what it is.
All of the extras, including the commentary track, stay strictly on the Blu-ray. Waititi does the commentary, but don’t expect too many insights on the obvious evolution of the story. He does, however, note that Mieke’s whiteboard in Asgard shows the entire plot of the movie in pictures, including some deleted scenes. However, Waititi largely lets his daughters into the recording and asks them what they think of the movie. They don’t find Gorr very scary, and they constantly compare it unfavorably to Stranger Things. They did play a part in creating the movie’s monsters, as all the Shadow Demon designs came from children’s drawings. And they understand his sarcastic deadpan shtick quite well — better than many journalists, arguably.
Other fun tidbits include the revelation that Russell Crowe did every scene in both a Shakesperean English accent and the Greek one, with everyone agreeing the latter sounded more fun. And the way Korg reproduces, Waititi insists, is direct canon from the comics. That Melissa McCarthy cameo happened because she was in Australia at the time with nothing else to do. Also, Waititi hates the word “bromance.”
But don’t expect to find out what Lena Headey, Jeff Goldblum, or Peter Dinklage originally did in the movie. Waititi never mentions them, nor do they show up in the deleted scenes. The biggest hint given as to a previous structure is a deleted scene in which Zeus returns to personally give Thor the thunderbolt. Others shown here include an extended, excessively silly version of the Guardians asking a meditating Thor for a help, and a bit with Dionysus that’s already online. Featurettes spotlight Portman’s return, Bale’s villain, and Waititi’s evolution as a Thor director. The inevitable gag reel features plenty of dancing as usual, along with Chris Pratt’s phone interrupting several scenes.
It’s fascinating that just as the Marvel TV shows start to highlight people of faith, Love and Thunder makes all of the gods look like arrogant idiots. Gorr overreacts to that knowledge, and taking it out on kids is especially evil, But his anger tracks. As in the classical Greek comedies, the gods come down to our level in this film, full of mortal flaws and suggesting they exist in our image rather than vice versa. Once again, there’s almost a strong theme there, but it slightly exceeds Waititi’s grasp again. He really works better polishing other people’s scripts than writing his own, and that includes the one he won an Oscar for.
But then Waititi is all too mortal as well.
Thor: Love and Thunder will hit Blu-ray and 4K on September 27. And the digital version is also available right now.
Recommended Reading: Marvel’s Thor 4: Love and Thunder Movie Special Book
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