The third installment of Marvel's Thor franchise, Thor: Ragnarok, was one of the rare cases where you could feel a director put personal touches on a piece of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel movies all tend to be competently made, but they also tend to feel as if they've come off an assembly line. Thor: Ragnarok had writer/director Taika Waititi's (What We Do in the Shadows) distinctive humor and visual stylings on it. While the new installment, Thor: Love and Thunder has some imaginative visuals, it often feels like the franchise has gone back to the well one too many times.
Thor (Hemsworth) is left aimless after the events of Avengers: Endgame and the deaths of all of his family members. But he's given renewed purpose when faced with Gorr (Christian Bale), who has a cursed sword that allows him to kill gods. Meanwhile, his former love interest, Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is battling a stage 4 cancer diagnosis. But the cancer seems to stop when she clutches Mjolnir, Thor's hammer. Thor, Jane, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and Korg (voiced by Waititi) go on a quest to stop Gorr.
One of the problems here is that the tone veers all over the place. There's a lot of silly comedy, but that's juxtaposed with stuff like Gorr watching his young daughter die in the opening scene and Jane facing stage 4 cancer. One of the things that was charming about the initial Thor was how light and fun it was. The film tries to keep the humor at times, but child deaths and stage 4 cancer aren't exactly the stuff of merriment.
The new film also feels a bit like a warmed-over version of Ragnarok. There's a powerful God killer who is avenging a horrible wrong done to her/him. There's also a decadent hedonist antagonist (Jeff Goldblum in Ragnarok, Russell Crowe's Zeus here).
Thor: Love and Thunder has a decent pace and it thankfully keeps the proceedings to 2 hours, which is relatively brief for a comic book film these days. But the franchise is starting to have a been-there-done-that feel and Marvel might be best served to move on (creatively speaking—financially, they will probably still make a killing off this).