Marvel's Thor: Love and Thunder arrives in Cineworld on 7 July. So, is it a worthy follow-up to the joyously bonkers Thor: Ragnarok? It features the same writer/director, Taika Waititi, who infuses his signature eccentricity into his latest collaboration with star Chris Hemsworth, the latter clearly having a blast with his reworked, goofy iteration of the title character.
The movie also showcases a returning Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, now the Mjolnir-wielding Mighty Thor. It features former Batman Christian Bale as the dreaded Gorr the God Butcher. And it promises to shake up the ongoing Marvel Phase Four slate with plenty of bold visual flourishes and go for broke comic energy.
Now, it's time to discover whether any of that has translated into critical adoration. Scroll down to discover the Thor 4 reactions.
It's colourful and crazy...
"The computer-generated imagery refashions the cosmos into a candy-coloured amalgam of My Little Pony and an explosion in a lipstick factory," writes Donald Clarke for The Irish Times. "Among other agreeably absurd routines, Hemsworth gets to spar with his semi-sentient axe as if it were a jealous romantic partner. Though considerably more ramshackle than the previous adventure, Carry on Thor is inventive enough to remain distracting throughout."
"[Waititi and Hemsworth's] latest pairing is more extension than reinvention," raves Games Radar reviewer Jordan Farley. "But by most metrics it’s a superior reunion – wilder, funnier, and significantly more heartfelt. If Marvel has been coasting on a comfortably unexceptional level of quality for much of Phase 4, the joyous Love and Thunder is a return to the glory days of the Infinity Saga. "Unashamedly absurd, wildly entertaining and face-achingly funny, Love And Thunder makes Ragnarok look like Bresson."
Chris Hemsworth is praised for his comic timing...
"The superb Hemsworth makes the most of his wonkily sweet lines," writes Vicky Jessop for London Evening Standard. "Thor, explaining “space dolphins” to Jane, gushes, “They mate for life. In packs of six!” Hemsworth has nice buns (which we get to see). But, as ever, the sexiest thing about the actor is his comic timing."
Writes Caryn James for the BBC: "Hemsworth is given much more to work with and beautifully navigates the shifts from comedy to drama. There has always been a meta-theme in Thor's character, as his ego makes him hyper-aware of his image and stature. Hemsworth plays into the meta while making his vanity comic and insecure rather than obnoxious. And his love for Jane is especially deep and touching in this instalment."
Natalie Portman embraces her role as the Mighty Thor...
"Natalie Portman's scene-stealing return as Dr. Jane Foster-turned-Mighty Thor is the highlight of Love and Thunder," enthuses Screen Rant's Ben Kendrick. "Despite suitable turns from Portman, Jane's previous roles in Phase 1 and 2 Thor movies, as well as crossover appearances, were mixed at best, often falling into early MCU trappings (damsel in distress, living MacGuffin, along with numerous offscreen name-drops).
"However, the character's triumphant and emotionally-charged return as Mighty Thor makes the payoff all the more rewarding. Portman is no stranger to playing kick-ass, physical roles; yet, it's apparent the actress reveled in taking on the high-flying, lightning-wielding challenge of exploring Love and Thunder's Jane Foster story. In the end, Mighty Thor is an especially impactful and well-executed addition to the film, punctuated by lovable moments of kid-like glee as Jane delights in her newfound superpowers."
"Portman's return as Jane is by far one of the highlights of the movie, as she manages to turn her somewhat-shaky characterization in previous MCU appearances into something truly delightful," notes Comicbook.com journalist Jenna Anderson. "Once Jane begins her hero's journey as Mighty Thor, the energy Portman brings is genuinely infectious and oddly cathartic in ways that will absolutely surprise audiences."
Those signature Taika Waititi flourishes are in abundance...
"Waititi continues to paint in bold and colourful strokes," enthuses Clarisse Loughrey for The Independent. "Zeus’s home, a planet inhabited by a truly global population of mythical figures, is so busy with detail that it might take a hundred watches just to absorb everything that’s been placed on screen.
"And there’s a real touch of adventure to some of the technology deployed here – the use of massive LED backdrops (first popularised on the set of Disney+’s The Mandalorian) in place of traditional green screen gives everything a little more object permanence, while a black-and-white sequence shot with shattered light effects is one of the most inventive and straightforwardly good-looking Marvel action scenes we’ve seen in an aeon."
"There is more than enough magic, music and muscle to go around – everybody’s so ripped, Love and Thunder often seems like a Frank Frazetta painting come to life," writes Brian Truitt for USA Today. "Waititi is equally adept at crafting the MCU’s answer to “Flash Gordon” with "Ragnarok" or delivering defining, dazzling work such as “Jojo Rabbit." And here he gives us a surprisingly personal superhero jam with extraordinary depth, infusing the delightfully fizzy narrative with queer characters, religious themes and a compelling conversation about the differences between mythic gods and all-powerful good guys."
That said, there are some dissenting opinions...
"The movie suffers from none of the self-seriousness or draggy exposition of other Marvel outings," observes Entertainment Weekly critic Leah Greenblatt, "even when its patchwork plot feels stuck together with rainbows and chewing gum. (And so much Guns N' Roses — Axl Rose is essentially the spirit animal of this soundtrack.) Even in Valhalla or Paradise City, though, there is still love and loss; Thor dutifully delivers both, and catharsis in a climax that inevitably doubles as a setup for the next installment.
"More and more, this cinematic universe feels simultaneously too big to fail and too wide to support the weight of its own endless machinations. None of it necessarily makes any more sense in Waititi's hands, but at least somebody's having fun."
"While it’s a net positive that Marvel has loosened its stranglehold on the formulas and necessary components of its films, allowing for exactly the kinds of idiosyncrasies that resonate most strongly with audiences, Waititi working without limitations does not serve the film unambiguously well," writes AV Club critic Todd Gilchrist. "In particular, the first hour or so—the plot grinding into motion—feels like a bit of a slog, precisely because the filmmaker’s cutesy, irreverent wit feels so labored while cushioning its necessary machinery.
"And yet, once [Russell Crowe] shows up in “Omnipotent City” as Zeus—the god of gods—in a gilded palace occupied by deities for every conceivable species, culture, and cause (including, hilariously, bao buns), Love And Thunder finds its footing, and then some."
What will your verdict be? Click here to book your tickets for Thor: Love and Thunder and tweet us your reactions @Cineworld.