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Review: ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ reunites superhero with old flame

“Thor: Love and Thunder” is the latest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Chris Hemsworth again plays the Norse god of thunder. The Asgardian is reunited with his love interest played by Natalie Portman, who has become Mighty Thor, and they fight a villainous Christian Bale.

"Thor: Love and Thunder" movie poster
"Thor: Love and Thunder" stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Taika Waititi and Tessa Thompson in the latest sequel about the Norse god of thunder in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The new release is playing at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter and the Sunset Cinema in Jenkins.
Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch
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BAXTER — It’s not easy being in love and you never forget your first.

The Asgardian Thor carries a torch — besides his magical hammer and later his enchanted battle-ax, through all the known (and unknown) universes — for earthling Dr. Jane Foster.

“Thor: Love and Thunder” opens with the lovelorn Norse god of thunder and lightning having a midlife or existential crisis after the epic throwdown that was “Avengers: Endgame.”

Thor was last seen teaming up with the Guardians of the Galaxy in the blockbuster conclusion that saw the Avengers and others battle Thanos who sought to eliminate half of the population.

Thor figurine
Thor, god of thunder
Ravi Palwe via Unsplash.com

The Guardians of the Galaxy are a motley crew of space explorers and opportunists who sometimes act heroically in their own feature films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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Guardian Peter Quill, or Star-Lord as he likes to be called, offers some sage if poorly-phrased advice to Thor of basically “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved before.”

In this third sequel of the movie franchise about the sometime Avenger Thor, he has already seen his homeworld destroyed, his race decimated and his beloved hammer Mjölnir destroyed by an estranged sibling and goddess of death played by Cate Blanchett in “Thor: Ragnarok.”

Mjölnir
Thor often wields the magical hammer Mjölnir.
Manuel Salinas via Unsplash.com

Elsewhere in “Thor: Love and Thunder,” a disenchanted Christian Bale renounces gods after a loved one dies and was failed to be saved despite his impassioned pleas to a higher power.

Bale’s moving performance as a grieving father besot with revenge and anger elevates the villain he plays in the motion picture beyond the standard baddie from casting intent on chaos.

Bale becomes Gorr the God Butcher and sets off on a reckless vendetta to rid the world of gods who he believes worshippers misguidedly idolize, killing the gods with a legendary sword.

The English actor may be best known for his dramatic and gritty turn as none other than Batman aka the Caped Crusader, the Dark Knight and Gotham’s savior in the DC Cinematic Universe.

Thor soon finds himself going toe-to-toe with the mysterious Gorr but not before he encounters Foster, played by Oscar-winner Natalie Portman, who battles Gorr’s shadowy henchmen, too.

Foster appears on Thor’s radar once again, however, dressed, outfitted or armed similarly to Thor but now wields his reassembled Mjölnir as she fights as a superhero.

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Besotted and confused, Thor awkwardly attempts to right what went wrong in the relationship and the picture then takes on the beats of a rom-com but with a lot of action and special effects.

The action-adventure movie veers further into fantasy as Thor tries to enlist the help of Zeus — yes, that Zeus of Greek antiquity — in the fight to finish Gorr before Gorr finishes them all off.

Oscar-winner Russell Crowe plays the god in a delightfully wacky way that includes hedonistic references and other baser instincts thought to be the purview of man.

How Foster came to be Mighty Thor, as she is referred to in the comics, is best left to moviegoers to discover but the subplot remains true to the comics.

Frank Lee
Frank Lee

Hemsworth, an underrated Australian actor who can also play dramatic and comedic scenes, tugs at audiences’ heartstrings in a surprisingly romantic movie.

New Zealanders Crowe and Taika Waititi, who directed "Thor: Ragnarok" and "Thor: Love and Thunder," also turn in memorable performances as Zeus and as the Thor ally Korg.

Director Waititi sets the tone with an ‘80s color palette in the film that includes Guns N’ Roses hits like “Sweet Child o' Mine" or a throwback like the ABBA love ballad “Our Last Summer.”

There are also funny cameos in “Thor: Love and Thunder” by Academy Award-winner Matt Damon, Sam Neill and Melissa McCarthy in a community theater reenactment of past exploits.

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MORE MOVIE COLUMNS BY FRANK LEE:
“Living” is a new drama starring English actor Bill Nighy a veteran civil servant who receives a terminal diagnosis from his doctor and decides to live it up with the help of a plucky young woman.

“Thor: Love and Thunder” is rated PG-13 and includes brief nudity by Hemsworth in the two-hour movie that lists Hemsworth as an executive producer. The superhero sequel earned $143 million in its opening weekend in North America, according to studio estimates Sunday.

“Thor: Love and Thunder” currently holds a 67% approval rating among critics and an 81% approval rating among audiences at Rotten Tomatoes, a review-aggregation website for film and television.

The consensus from the critics at RottenTomatoes.com: “In some ways, ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ feels like ‘Ragnarok’ redux — but overall, it offers enough fast-paced fun to make this a worthy addition to the MCU.”

“Thor: Love and Thunder” is playing at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter and the Sunset Cinema in Jenkins.

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bdfilmforum .

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I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write articles for the Wadena Pioneer Journal weekly newspaper owned by Forum Communications Co.
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