The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s best shot at Oscar glory has arrived in the form of Christian Bale’s ferocious Gorr the God Butcher in Thor: Love and Thunder.
He is one of the most amazing Marvel villains you will ever see. More menacing than Thanos and richer than Hela from Thor: Ragnarok. He has the complex motivations of Black Panther’s Erik Killmonger, but with the mesmerizing physical transformation we’ve come to expect from Bale.
The Brit is a punishment eater.
Running time: 125 minutes. Rated PG-13 (Intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, speech, some salacious material and partial nudity.) In theaters July 8.
Able to lose weight and gain weight with the apparent ease with which Alexa delivers the weather report, he’s Hollywood’s most addictive freak. In his latest role, the actor is wafer thin (no Batman biceps here) and looks like he has fleas. And unlike so many of his A-list buddies who casually hop into comic book movies to pay for their kitchen makeover, he can be sensitive about a green screen. He’s sensational.
Written and directed by Taika Waititi, Bale is part of an all-around suspenseful action film that enlivens the MCU’s patchy Phase 4. It’s like Eternals never happened. If only…
The New Zealand filmmaker also reprises the role of rock alien Korg, who is quick to recap Thor’s story with his typically dry, pop-culture sense of humor. The “before” segment is set to “Only Time” by Enya.
These days, we learn, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) sits Zen-like under a tree awaiting missions to save the universe. He then learns of Gorr, a vengeful fellow who kills gods in the desert in response to the death of his young daughter.
If Gorr can reach a device called Eternity, he can annihilate any ethereal being in one fell swoop. Including Thor. Only the god of thunder himself can stop him.
Well, Thor and the returning Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman, who everyone forgets, was in the MCU). Back on Earth, Jane is ill and the separated couple are reunited in an unexpected, hard-hitting way.
Tessa Thompson’s party-ready Valkyrie rules New Asgard here on our planet – a fun mix of gods and school assemblies. And she gets caught up in the conflict when Gorr kidnaps all the town’s children.
Waititi, who did an equally great job with Ragnarok and should direct every Marvel film, never gets bogged down in plot or vocabulary. Instead, he draws us in with stratospheric deployments for each individual character and a genuine sense of danger. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has been touted as a rare Marvel horror film. “Love and Thunder”, funny as it is, is much, much scarier.
For example, towards the end of the film, Waititi uses mostly black and white and Bale’s Gorr begins to resemble a tormented Nosferatu.
Don’t fret – Thor isn’t just horror. This sub-series, along with the hilariously entertaining “Spider-Man” films since Waititi, is one of the MCU’s funniest.
We meet new gods like Russell Crowe’s Zeus, straight out of Monty Python. And there’s a terrifying, hilarious rivalry between Thor’s Hammer and Stormbreaker – two inanimate objects.
And as much praise as Bale deserves, Hemsworth’s Thor still manages to take on a majestic, impenetrable figure and – for lack of a better word – humanize him. We’re as worried about the god of thunder saving all the gods in the universe as we are about being dumped over a note left in the kitchen.
“Love and Thunder” is a dire reminder that creativity and innovation are required for the MCU to continue in a fun, soulful way. You can’t just say “multiverse” 1,000 times and call it a movie.