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Once the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) credits begin, the rendition of the typical MCU Thor: Love and Thunder will be different than its predecessors. Funny, hilarious and silly, Taika Waititi once again makes a super entertaining Marvel film that follows my favorite of the franchise Thor: Ragnarok. While the film is fairly self-contained and doesn’t seem to push the character arc of MCU or Thor much further, it’s a playful summertime blockbuster with a fantastic soundtrack and a particularly strong, chilling performance from Christian Bale.

Love and Thunder begins with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) parting ways with the Guardians of the Galaxy after receiving a disturbing phone call from his old friend, Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander). He learns that Gorr (Bale), a man disillusioned with the gods after the death of his daughter and civilization, uses the Necro Sword to slay gods across the universe. When Gorr attacks New Asgard, Thor rushes back to help Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and the Asgardians. However, he is shocked to see another female Thor (Mighty Thor) putting up the good fight and quickly realizes that this version is actually his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). She has his powers and can wield his powerful hammer Mjolnir, which was shattered after fighting Hela (Cate Blanchett) in Ragnarok but is now back in action. But even with three superheroes, Gorr won’t be an easy fight…especially since Jane has a serious secret of her own.

Waititi gives us some really cool moments in Love and Thunder. I especially love when the film transitions from bright colors to black and white as Thor and company travel to Gorr’s stronghold, the Shadowrealm. What a cool idea. However, there are also strange moments. For example, I’m not sure why they felt the need to include the Guardians of the Galaxy for 5 minutes at the beginning of the film; it seemed like a waste of time. Also, Waititi didn’t seem to know what to do with Tessa Thompson, who I think is the coolest character in the movie and unfortunately takes a break in the final act of the movie.

Waititi repeats a lot of the jokes that worked in Ragnarok and I know he’s going to get hot for it, but hey, if it works, it works. I still found myself freaking out…especially Korg’s recaps of Thor’s journey so far and A-list celebrities performing a play about the events of Ragnarok; A new cameo in particular made me laugh. But perhaps the most enduring bit in the film, which you might not see coming, is a jealous rivalry for Thor’s attention. And no, it’s not about Jane Foster. No spoilers here.

Christian Bale is fantastic as one of the scariest Marvel villains ever. Granted, nothing compares to Cate Blanchett’s phenomenal role as Hela in RAGNAROK, but Bale was still excellent in the role. I love that he twists and turns and shows that he has more different characters up his sleeve and is willing to shed his “prestige actor” mantle to chew the backdrop if you think you’re up for the type of role know who he’ll be playing in a Marvel movie next. The main issue I have with Gorr is that I never really cared if his ultimate goal was achieved. Of course I don’t want Thor to die, but I seriously don’t care that he’s bent on destroying the gods of the universe when the movie never really deserves its credit and worries me when it does… or maybe I am just heartless.

The humor and entertainment present in Ragnarok still rock through Love and Thunder. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that you have to stay in your seats until the film’s bitter end. There are two credit scenes, a mid-credit scene that will pitch an upcoming villain, and one at the very end that further wraps up the Love and Thunder storyline and potentially features the return of another A-list veteran of the franchise .

My rating: B

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