Thor: Love and Thunder

Although apparently some folks who loved the third chapter in the Thor movie franchise, Ragnarok, don't like its followup Love and Thunder, it's hard for me to see why. Both films are very much cut from the same cloth, thanks mostly to director/cowriter Taika Waititi and his signature blend of silliness, adventure, and pathos.

Since Ragnarok dispensed of Thor's family, the only major player from previous Thor installments – besides Tessa Thompson as fellow Asgardian Valkyrie and Waititi as the rock-faced Korg –  is Natalie Portman as Thor's Earthling girlfriend Jane Foster. Here Jane is dying of some unnamed cancer when Thor's (Chris Hemsworth) fabled hammer Mjölnir, shattered into pieces by his evil sister in Ragnarok, calls to her, reforms under her touch, and transforms Jane into... the Mighty Thor!

Why? Who knows!

It's a contrivance, to be sure. But then the whole plot depends on contrivances, beginning with the opening scene, in which a poor everyman (Christian Bale) on some drought-stricken planet loses his beloved little daughter, coincidentally bumps into the arrogant god to whom he had recently prayed for her life, then coincidentally finds a god-killing weapon called the Necrosword. So he slays his god, vows to slay all the galaxy's other gods, and guess what? Thor's a god.

Thor: Love and Thunder is filled with funny gags and cameos and leads to a surprisingly poignant ending. But does it amount to anything? It does not. There's an intriguing theme about how the main characters are all powerless without their magical weapons – in the case of Bale's and Portman's characters, theirs literally drain them of their lives – but Waititi and cowriter Jennifer Kaytin Robinson don't take this idea anywhere. The film also takes a vaguely pro-religion and pro-afterlife stance, but again it's not developed. Finally, it's interesting that Bale would agree to a relatively small part as a Marvel villain, but despite his character's ghoulish looks, he isn't well-defined and thus he lacks menace.

The more I think about Love and Thunder, the more I realize how much of it doesn't make sense – even in the context of its own outlandishness. But whatever. It's just a good old-fashioned summer blockbuster. Go and enjoy yourself.