Thor: Love and Thunder reviews are mostly for the folks who (unlike yours truly) didn't buy advance tickets early. Big movies like this are arguably as strong and durable as Thor himself.
These first reviews, though, may only serve to push fans to wait for the Thor: Love and Thunder's Disney Plus release. And, no, these reviews aren't a big bucket of cold water (I'm seeing it on Thursday night, and I'm still excited), but they do quite a good job of tempering your expectations.
Many critics seem to be framing Thor: Love and Thunder as "more of the same" when compared to Thor: Ragnarok. And while we still think that's probably good, it does feel like everyone may be on auto-pilot.
Currently, Thor: Love and Thunder has a 71% score on Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab) with 78 reviews counted and more coming in. So it seems the critical reaction is very mixed (though our enthusiasm is up following the leak of a secret Thor: Love and Thunder cast member so great we wish it hadn't been spoiled).
Why critics don't like Thor: Love and Thunder
Andrew J. Salazar for Discussing Film (opens in new tab) was the first to raise our concern. He warns that you might have to wait a bit to feel the love for the flick, writing "It’s not until the second half that Thor: Love and Thunder truly comes into its own journey worth telling."
And unfortunately, it seems as if they squandered one of the biggest new MCU additions, as Salazar notes "it can’t be understated how much of a missed opportunity Christian Bale’s Gorr feels. The character certainly doesn’t fall in the lower half of Marvel’s underutilized villains, but he definitely doesn’t reach the top either."
Salazar's most damning complaint, though, came when he wrote "Whereas Thor: Ragnarok almost feels like a magic trick, Waititi proving what can be done with a Thor story in his own unique way, Thor: Love and Thunder feels like a tired act."
CNN (opens in new tab)'s Brian Lowry is another of the critics we saw that compared Thor: Love and Thunder to the previous chapter in an unfavorable light. Lowry states "The impressive mix of tones and styles that director Taika Waititi pulled off in Thor: Ragnarok largely fizzles in Thor: Love and Thunder, which isn't as funny as it wants to be, as stirring as it needs to be or romantic as it ought to be."
More frustratingly, Valeries Complex at Deadline (opens in new tab) writes that Thor is done wrong by the film, as "Instead of being the misguided superhero who learned from his mistakes, he is reduced to a goofy, himbo, Hulk Hogan lookalike."
But that's not the only failure to support a character: "In Ragnarok, Valkyrie served a purpose. She was a reminder of the old, oppressive ways of Asgard. In Thor and Thor: The Dark World, Lady Sif is a powerful fighter and defender of Asgard. But in this film, while good to see both characters in action, they serve no purpose. If neither were in this movie, it wouldn’t have made a difference to the story. In other words, they are wasted."
Why critics like Thor: Love and Thunder
At Collider (opens in new tab), Therese Lacson frames Thor: Love and Thunder as a salve to the current muddy situation in Phase 4 of the MCU. Among the flowers distributed, some go to Christian Bale, as "We're not breaking any new ground with this character, but it's Bale's menacing and physical performance that makes it stand out. Bale is obviously no stranger to playing villains (or heroes), but the way he delicately balances the sadness of Gorr's past with his vengeful slaughter of Gorr's present makes him exciting to watch."
Lacson also praises Waititi's contributions to the script, praising it as "Eccentric and funny, with touches of slapstick, and a heavy dose of heart and some melancholy – it's a familiar formula when it comes to Waititi's work, but not one that has lost its charm."
Even more importantly, Lacson's review ends by stating "So, while there might be complaints about the film's pacing or weaker first half, Thor: Love and Thunder recaptured exactly what charmed me about these MCU movies."
Analysis: Why we're still excited for Thor: Love and Thunder
In the aforementioned review from Valerie Complex at Deadline, she noted "For every negative mentioned about Thor: Love and Thunder, the comedy, action scenes, and performances keep it from caving." And that's what I personally needed to hear.
I love it when an MCU movie isn't just "good for a Marvel movie," but as long as Thor: Love and Thunder is a good Marvel movie? It's done its job.
I came out of Doctor Strange 2 with plenty to gripe about, but as long as there's enough to keep Thor: Love and Thunder afloat, I'm not asking for a refund for my ticket.
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