Love and Thunder’ does not rekindle the spark that ignited ‘Ragnarok’


(CNN) — The impressive mix of tones and styles that director Taika Waititi achieved in “Thor: Ragnarok” largely fades in “Thor: Love and Thunder,” which isn’t as funny as it wants to be, as moving as it needs to be, or romantic. as it should be. While it’s well-paced and just under two hours long, instead of the expected fireworks, it comes a little too close to feeling like a post-4th of July flop.

Marvel’s enviable track record of creative and commercial success, dating back to “Iron Man,” has begun to look less and less invincible, with the legendary “Eternals” and some of its lesser Disney+ efforts (see “Moon Knight“) showing signs of vulnerability.

While Waititi and star Chris Hemsworth’s reunion sounded like a can’t-miss proposition and should elicit considerable hype, the latest installment feels a little too enamored of the actor’s comedic chops and associated antics, while lacking the kind of flashy villain that would make him a fan. helped elevate “Ragnarok” when things got serious.

Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale share initials, but their Hela is head and shoulders above their Gorr the God Butcher, a character whose tragic story takes a grim turn when he acquires the Necrosword, vowing to use the mystical artifact to slay all gods, including God. Thor and his Asgardian friends.

As for Thor, his carefree existence becomes much more complicated when he leaves the Guardians of the Galaxy behind just before the love of his long life, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), unexpectedly returns to her (literally, it turns out that Jane he gained Thor-like powers through a bond with his old hammer Mjolnir, while also harboring a secret that explains his sudden interest in magic).

As an example of his eclectic resume, which ranges from quirky TV comedies to a future “Star Wars” movieWaititi finds humor in the strangest places, like Thor’s strange relationship with his axe, Stormbreaker, which seems anthropomorphically jealous of his interaction with other weapons.

The film once again features an impressive variety of cameos — including Russell Crowe as an eccentric Zeus — that contribute to the sense of fun that Waititi (who shares the script with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson) has tried to foster, right down to a kind of recap of Thor’s story so far, as well as well-chosen Guns N’ Roses songs following Led Zeppelin’s contribution to “Ragnarok.”

Yet despite genuinely eye-popping visual flourishes and Hemsworth’s bravery in portraying Thor as a swaggering lout—including an already overexposed bit of nudity in the marketing that should still elicit great laughs—too often the “Love and Thunder” jokes fall under their own weight. There is also some laziness in the way children are brought into the plot.

Overall, the most heartening moment might come during the end credits sequence, which hints at a more promising plot for a fifth movie to come, with the usual promise that “Thor will return.”

When it comes to Marvel merchandise, hope tends to be endless. However, given the time lag between these major productions, it is disappointing to have to pin hopes on the next phase. Still, “Thor: Love and Thunder” essentially sets that stage, with a movie that’s brawny and handsome but sporadicly endearing at best, and even harder to love.

“Thor: Love and Thunder” opens on July 8 in theaters in the United States. It is rated PG-13.



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