Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit) directs, co-writes (with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson) and stars in Thor: Love and Thunder. But the script is thin, too familiar and overly campy, causing the film to suffer before it gets to anything substantial.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) travels with the Guardians of the Galaxy, spreading equal parts havoc and heroism as they save the universe from evil, planet by planet. But when Asgard is threatened, their ways part and Thor goes home. When he arrives, he discovers that Asgard is under siege by Gorr, the God Butcher (Christian Bale). Yet he is also protected by The Mighty Thor, who turns out to be his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Now the two must unite with King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) to prevent the destruction of every god in the universe.
Waititi and Robinson dropped the ball, delivering two acts that take the high camp to new lows. The jokes are funny at first, but are forced even before Thor breaks up with the Guardians; from there they only go downhill. As the film progresses, some of the repeated attempts at humor become tedious. This detracts from the story as the audience waits for the next chilling line instead of getting involved with the characters. There is some redemption in the power of both Portman and Thompson’s underused characters. More rescue comes in the third act as the characters get to work. These scenes are mainly driven by an exceptional performance by Bale, who possesses his character as if it were part of his soul. Even with this, the ending is watered down, predictable, and unsatisfying, raising questions about whether any of these characters thought things through — or, more specifically, whether the writers did.
Still, the epic battle scenes are spectacular, if at times difficult to follow. This is a side effect of a more significant problem that occurs regularly: wide, expansive scenes that are too short for the audience to take the full scope. They are beautifully rendered, at least what the viewer gets to see. The same goes for the background characters, a creative mix of special make-up and CGI.
Thor: Love and Thunder is entertaining at times, but suffers from the weight of trying. It tries too hard to make Thor a combination of heroic and himbo; it tries too hard to present strong female leads; and it tries too hard to tell the same, overused story any other way. It fails to varying degrees on all of these. The film is a mess with very little inspiration, leaving the audience in the rain.