Right off the bat, I just have to say that anytime you have screaming goats in a movie, I’m inclined to rave about it.
As far as Thor: Love and Thunder as a whole, I feel like Taika Waititi and Chris Hemsworth are cinematic soulmates. The character of Thor was perfectly fine in his first six years in the MCU, but it wasn’t until Waititi joined the universe with Thor: Ragnarok in 2017 that they really found exactly what this character should be.
Waititi and Hemsworth do a great job reminding you of just how tragic Thor’s character arc in the MCU has been. He’s lost everything and everyone multiple times over, but keeps looking for a way to come back and move forward. Yet, he’s still working to find himself in the midst of this chaos. There’s a great conversation early on in the film between the God of Thunder and Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord/Peter Quill that lays out the thesis of the narrative. Star-Lord basically says something along the lines of, “Hey man, even though you’ve been alive for thousands of years, you don’t seem to know exactly who you are. Go find that. Go find LOVE, because I know that’s what you’ve closed yourself off from.” Essentially, he tells Thor that it’s better to feel the pain of loss than to feel empty.
Yes, the title for Love and Thunder is absolutely perfect. The exploration of love in this movie is beautiful and sincere. Whether that be the romantic love between Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster (who takes up the mantle as The Mighty Thor) and Hemsworth’s Thor, or the love amongst a family within The Guardians of the Galaxy, or the love between a father and daughter, this fundamental human emotion takes shape in many forms in Waititi’s film.
Now, regarding Christian Bale as the villain Gorr the God Butcher: While he’s a terrifying and violent villain who vows to destroy all gods (including our hero, Thor) and kidnaps an entire village of kids, holding them for ransom — somehow, he’s also an empathetic figure. You can understand why he’s doing what he’s doing. (Well, let me clarify that I believe that the whole kidnapping a village of kids was a bridge too far, but his hatred of the gods in this universe is certainly justified to a certain extent). His actions come from a place of pain and loss — the loss of, you guessed it, LOVE.
In addition to Bale’s performance (in which you can tell he relishes every moment portraying such a fascinating and bizarre character), a lot of the credit here goes to the script co-written by Waititi and Jennifer Kaytin Robinson. In balancing the darkest shadows of the universe with the transcendent scope of love and light, the story captures what it means to truly experience the highs and lows of life — whether you’re a god from across the universe or a physicist from New Mexico.
On a technical level, I have to mention that The Volume was used to make this film. Courtesy of Industrial Light and Magic, the Lucasfilm group, this is the same technology used in production of The Mandalorian and other Disney+ Star Wars shows. The Volume can best be described as a large room of massive panoramic LED screens, which aids in the development of lighting that is more realistic and natural than what you would get from shooting against a green screen or blue screen. Additionally, the IMAX sequences of Love and Thunder are phenomenal. While the entire movie is not filmed in the IMAX ratio, the scenes that do expand to IMAX fully engross you in the environment. I think this can be attributed to the wonders of The Volume.
Anyway, I cannot believe that a movie this wacky and whimsical has a central storyline about a woman slowly dying of stage 4 cancer. Not to mention the god butcher guy who kidnaps like a hundred children. But then again, this is Taika Waititi, the same guy who made Jojo Rabbit. I guess I shouldn’t be THAT surprised. I respect that his comedy style doesn’t do it for everyone, but it’s always right in my wheelhouse. From Hunt for the Wilderpeople, to Ragnarok, to Jojo Rabbit, to Love and Thunder, Waititi is on a hot streak that hasn’t let me down yet. I’ll be there day one for his Star Wars movie next year. Here’s to hoping that we get some lightsaber-wielding screaming goats in that one.