BADGER LEAF STONE
When we rediscover the Thor we left at the end ofAvengers: Endgame, it is thanks to a story led under the stars by his companion Korg, still played by director Taika Waititi. In a handful of lines and sketches, he reminds us the trauma of the asgardian god, symbolized by a noticeable weight gain as much as the discovery of Fortnite. These are the few seconds that Thor: Love and Thunder will deign to give to the progress of his character before swinging us with him in the heart of an epic battle alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy.
While the film deploys with punchlines and winks an updated visual identity, between Dar the invincible and Labyrinth, one thing is clear: for the third time, the character of Thor has just been roughly rebooted. We discovered him in 2011 filmed by Kenneth Branagh, portrayed in proud, triumphalist and self-drunk god, moved by a self-satisfaction flirting with mild debility… and nothing has changed. This is the first big pitfall of the fourth adventure of the son of Odin: to return for the umpteenth time to a starting point as basic as it is marked out.
Dumb like Rambo 3, never funny like Hot shot 2
Therefore, it is difficult to get involved in a story whose whole first act consists of unraveling, again, what has been established, to start from scratch. Waititi himself seems aware of the problem as he rushes each scene in fourth gear. Whether the characters meet, find, discover or confront a new threat, his staging not only remains sluggish, but it is the desertion of all dramaturgy that is most surprising.
Evidenced by the attack on New Asgard led by Gorr. The scene begins by introducing a rather seductive concept with Carpenterian potential, based on shadows and nightmarish silhouettes. An idea exploited in just two shots, evacuated from the feature film in less than 10 seconds. It is impossible under these conditions to take the measure of what is unfolding, to appreciate an atmosphere or a piece of bravery. This observation applies to the entire first hour of the film, which is hard to make us believe seriously both in the intensity of its threat and in the nature of the feelings that animate the protagonists.
The recipe for cosmic hedgehog pie is quite simple in real life
LOVE AND DRIZZLE
And for good reason, after three films which successively dealt with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman, more strawberry than a hyperactive market gardener) like a second dull knife and then an abandoned washcloth; the snake of absolute love, of the emotional gap it will have left in the barely healed soul of a capricious god of thunder, goes badly. All the more badly since the story treats its romance with the same expeditious quality as the aspects mentioned above. And Korg to gratify us with an additional explanatory montage supposed to convince us that Thor has always languished with a transcendental love for his beauty.
This one will not, at first, be entitled to more consideration than the other characters. Worse, a good part of the staggering implausibilities of the scenario are attached to it. How did she become a compendium of Thorine in armor? It will be necessary to be satisfied with an ellipse since the footage is quite incapable of imagining the modalities of its course. Why didn’t anyone see fit to warn Thor that his ex-partner had risen to the rank of goddess? Why is Jane precisely threatened by the artifact that history has – heavily – established was to save her? So many questions that won’t find answers… because on screen, everyone doesn’t care.
My name is Blond, Jane Blond
And it’s not the action scenes that will create a semblance of immersion in the viewer. Before the climax, this little world regularly faces swarms of completely disembodied digital bots, incapable of representing a real danger, just as the hordes of computer graphics artists emerging from Disney cannot breathe some life into these interchangeable games. And Waititi to orchestrate a filmic resignation at every moment.
Even the photography of Barry Baz Idoine, a high-flying technician who was found as a second-unit director or camera assistant on productions of the caliber of There Will Be Blood Where RogueOne, seems completely bypassed. Its image is most often dull, its colors washed out. The set is sorely lacking in punch. A shame for a blockbuster that announced to us that it wanted to electrify our memory of the bullshit of the 80s and 90s. But it’s not enough to ask a downhill DJ to spin hard rock hits to give a cinematic epic a real identity.
“Because Christian bleats.”
After almost an hour of film, Thor: Love and Thunder looks like absolute disappointment. To the point of wondering with anguish if the artist who offered us Ragnarok, one of the few MCU feature films capable of embracing the DNA of comics to better transpose their most cosmic vein, is well in control. And then, Taika Waititi wakes up. Halfway through, our troupe, made up of emaciated, interchangeable characters, none of whom have any impact on the plot, arrives in a mythological high place, to face Russell Big Crowe, a kind of Zeus who would have fallen into the pot of malignant potion as a child.
This is where the New Zealand filmmaker picks up the colors. His heroes find the distance between irony and sincerity, even his camera is suddenly a bit worried about setting up space, perspective, light. We remain far from the spatial energy of the previous Thor, but all it takes is a duo of giant goats for the narrator to fall back a little on his feet, while gradually, emotion shows the end of his tears. And so, Thor: Love and Thunder stands out as the most paradoxical chapter of the MCU, and therefore certainly not the least interesting.
“Burn the scene, let’s see something!”
The scenario pretends again and again to kill its secondary characters to resuscitate them anyhow? The second half of the film deploys for the first time an assumed tragic dimension, which will lastingly test the heroes. The blockbuster is unable to sort out its innumerable issues and does not prioritize any of them, even if it means giving the feeling of never starting? All it takes is Gorr to appear for the whole thing to suddenly come to life..
Not so much thanks to the outrageous performance of Christian Bale than to the writing of his character: that of a loyal but outraged man, determined to rid the universe of the gods who will not have shown themselves up to their divine essence.
Thunder of Brest
MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND PALE
And it is in its last third that the film reveals its project: to marry the point of view of Gorr, butcher of the gods. Since Thor is no more than an empty shell, his sisters and brothers in arms are reduced to a vignette and the love at the heart of the story a transparent incantation, it is to him that the keys of this sorry enterprise. And it is at this price that Waititi manages to articulate his mille-feuille of influences. When a programmatic confrontation takes shape, camera and photography suddenly become irritated to plunge us into a black and white world, where monsters arise, but also a formidable heritage of cinema.
Around our space viking, it’s sudden The Nibelungs, The Seventh Seal and surreal theatrics that take hold of the blockbuster. The result holds in a visually impressive sequence, which is measured, without having to blush, with the unfulfilled plastic ambitions of a certain The Northman, which intended to draw on the legacy of a whole section of cinema, without managing to offer an organic reinterpretation. And if we did not expect Waititi at this level of graphic creativity or mastery, it is clear thathe then re-orchestrated a whole section of popular culture with communicative energy.
Where there’s Jane, there’s no fun
From then on, he can find what made the success of Thor: Ragnarok, namely an uninhibited narration, whose winks never begin the first degree of reading. And it’s good this balance, as unstable as in miraculous places, which we find from scene to scene. When Gorr returns to an assembly of Asgardians the prospect of their tales of yesteryear at the cost of a pleasant beheading, when a gaggle of kids suddenly seize the figure of Thor, or when, for the first time, of the MCU, the possibility of a terrible and unjust sacrifice, we are surprised to find hope in the feature film.
Paradoxically, Thor: Love and Thunderrather than a clever and satisfying episode, as were the proposals of Waititi or Gunn within the extended universes which welcomed them, finds its value in this observation, honest but terrible. Devitalized heroes deserve if not death, at the very least severe punishment. Sanction that the film will fail to impose, letting us glimpse the melancholy and the desolation of its author, condemned to play the jesters of the king, rather than to reign as king of jesters.