Featuring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Taika Waititi, Tessa Thompson and Russel Crowe
Directed by Taika Waititi
Taika Waititi first made a name for himself as a charming, witty and touching director of some of New Zealand’s finest films, both short and feature length. His ability to create familiarity, particularly when exploring childhood, has won over audiences every step of the way, and a career-beginning with just two second hand motors has flourished into one in which the trappings of a major Marvel franchise rests upon his soldiers.
‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ was all set to deliver the same loveable qualities which made Waititi and Marvel’s first collaboration, ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ feel like a fresh bolt of lighting amongst Marvels’ ever-repetitive filmography. The introduction of seasoned professional Christian Bale, as well as the return of equally qualified Natalie Portman promised a new depth to the performances on display. Despite all this, the film sadly feels like a slightly messier, if slightly funnier variation of the same film which Marvel has been repeatedly reproducing for the last decade.
Christian Bale’s introduction as the god-slaying villain ‘Gor’, seems a sizeable enough opposition to Thor’s recently reinstated powers, but serves also as a reminder of how far Marvel’s constant ambition has led, with audiences wondering where they’ll be able to go next in search of a suitable bad guy – perhaps Gaia herself will wage war on the Avengers? Despite Gor’s character arc having a slightly rushed feeling at times, he maintains a status as one of the more vaguely memorable villains within the MCU in recent years, even if it is only the lack of a CGI-disposable army, as well as the film not entirely relying on fisticuffs to reach its resolution. There’s a little more depth to his origin and intentions which, paired with Bale’s performance, draws the viewer in.
Taika Waititi’s signature humour is somewhat visible amongst the studio influence and desire for establishing future projects which Marvel is known for, but often the jokes within this comedy feel completely off-the-cuff and inconsequential, which isn’t unusual for a Marvel film, but appears as a great contrast amongst the rest of the directors films, which so often are able to intertwine humour with a feeling of the narrative driving forward. This isn’t to say the film should be viewed as any detriment to Waititi’s career. Given the opportunity to direct some of the biggest names and hardest-working crews in the industry, as well as recieve a paycheck sizeable enough to fund plenty of smaller, more director-controlled stories, such as Waititi’s upcoming ‘Next Goal Wins’, I imagine we would all jump to the clap of the puppet masters hands for a little while.
As always, Marvel have released another feature which will most likely be thoroughly enjoyed by those who have a vested interest in the company, whilst being considered as one more among many by most other viewers. It has its moments of enjoyability, intrigue and excitement, but does little to rise above anything else we’ve seen from this fantastical universe in recent years.