Thursday, July 7, 2022

Don't close sequel door on 'Thor'; it's simply that we expected a bit more

With "Thor: Love and Thunder" marching over the horizon and into movie theaters on Friday, the latest from director, co-writer, narrator and voice of sidekick "Korg" Taika Waititi brings expectations far beyond the imagination of mortal men.

After all, the guy is legitimately creative -- as proven when he helmed "Thor: Ragnarok," perhaps the funniest Marvel sequel of all time -- among his other huge influences on such big- and small-screen projects as "What We Do in the Shadows," "Jojo Rabbit," "Flight of the Conchords," "Reservation Dogs" and a few more in the streaming realm. 

Even in the hands of this Oscar, BAFTA and Grammy winner, though, the new "Thor" becomes a real mixed bag of shuffling genres and just maybe a bit too much Waititi wackiness where a little more sensibility probably should reside.

Of course, "Love and Thunder" never really gets dull, either, starting with the superb Christian Bale going all Shakespearean on us as a desperate father-turned "butcher of the gods," quickly followed by a fat and sassy Thor (the body-shifting Chris Hemsworth), introduced as still working with the whole "Guardians of the Galaxy" gang to defeat apparent bad guys, with the ones here going down on some distant "Mad Max"-like planet. 

Wait, a real load remains to be absorbed, including the returning Tessa Thompson's "King Valkyrie" becoming mayor in a New Asgard community that plays more like Bizarro World, not to mention Natalie Portman's Jane Foster, now not only fighting cancer but actually beside her big lug of a boyfriend as well. Then, perhaps seriously getting back to fat and sassy, Russell Crowe debuts as Zeus in a wild "Golden Temple" routine that has him defiantly refusing Thor's godly pleas for help.

The best dark moments in Waititi's quick-moving adventure collection finally arrive later, during an eerie black-and-white sequence that brings Hemsworth's "Space Viking" into a kind of barren, yet mind-bending Twilight Zone. If only all of it landed so neatly.

Rated "PG-13": sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language, some suggestive material and partial nudity; 1:59; $ $ $ out of $5

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