“Thor: Love and Thunder” (Rated B)
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Russell Crowe
Where to watch: In theaters
Remember that year?
The original iPhone is introduced, revolutionizing the burgeoning smart phone market …
Queen Elizabeth II surpasses Victoria to become the longest reigning British monarch …
And American model and Bahamian resident Anna Nicole Smith passes away.
And 2007 is also clearly the year in which the writer of the new film “Thor: Love and Thunder” was born.
Surely the scribe is only 15-years old. How else would you explain the juvenile, rote writing and scenarios?
But according to all available information, writer/director Taika Waititi (“Jojo Rabbit”), who also plays a character in the movie, is about to turn 47. And co-writer Jennifer Kaytin Robinson is 34. So, what gives?
Well, the youth do need entertainment too. And everything need not be highbrow and thought-provoking. But one wonders if “thrills by and for teens” was truly the aim here.
Waititi is back after penning and directing the well-regarded previous outing “Thor: Ragnarok” in 2017. While that flick made plenty money, it certainly was not a perfect movie. “Ragnarok” felt as if someone was seasoning the film with a bottle of humor – following on the successes of at the time hilarious blockbusters like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Deadpool” – and tripped and fell, causing the whole bottle to tumble in to the pot.
Well, this time, “Love and Thunder” is nothing but seasoning. Dry, dry seasoning! And that’s not a good thing. At least not for consumption. Google “Cinnamon Challenge”!
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) embarks on a journey unlike anything he’s ever faced – a quest for inner peace. However, his retirement gets interrupted by Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), a galactic killer who seeks the extinction of the gods. To combat the threat, Thor enlists the help of King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Waititi), and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who – to his surprise – inexplicably wields his magical hammer. Together, they set out on a harrowing cosmic adventure to uncover the mystery of the God Butcher’s vengeance.
Did we really need another installment of this franchise? Completely wacky and wasteful of its stupendously talented cast, the jokes mostly miss. Just like in “Ragnarok, the super-serious villain didn’t get the memo that they were in an “SNL” comedy sketch.
There are far too many cameos (although those with Matt Damon and Hemsworth’s big brother Luke will induce occasional smiles). And the whole thing feels like a weird mashup of “Jojo Rabbit” meets Marvel”.
And while there’s so much to like about both of those on their own, the combination reminds me of a sandwich made with peanut butter and toe jam.
It’s clear the powers-that-be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe don’t know what to do with Thor. So, let’s do everybody a favor and send him to a universe far, far away.
Either that or turn this into a TV series on Disney Channel on Saturday mornings for the circa 2007-and-under crowd.
“Where the Crawdads Sing” (US Rated PG-13)
Cast: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, David Strathairn
Genre: Drama/ Mystery
Where to watch: In theaters
Based on the immensely popular best-selling 2018 novel by Delia Owens, “Where the Crawdads Sing” apparently remains largely faithful to the source material.
That’ll be good news for fans of the book.
As with the novel, Kya, abandoned as a girl, raised herself in the dangerous marshlands of North Carolina. For years, rumors of “The Marsh Girl” haunted the town of Barkley Cove, isolating the sharp and resilient Kya from her community. Drawn to two young men from town, she opens herself to a new and startling world. However, when one of them is found dead, Kya immediately becomes the main suspect. As the case unfolds, the verdict as to what happened becomes increasingly unclear, threatening to reveal many secrets.
The film goes back and forth from the murder trial to the past as Kya ages from a child to a teenager. That creates the feeling of two movies in one – two quite dissimilar movies. However, most people will be able to overlook those shifts in feel and tone.
The best part of the picture is the performance of British actress Daisy Edgar-Jones as Kya, who is quite believable as the character. The other performances are decent, but nothing outstanding, except for the always-great David Strathairn (“Good Night, and Good Luck”), as Kya’s attorney.
“Where the Crawdads Sing” feels like countless dramas set in the 1950s and ‘60s, and breaks no new ground. But it is a relatively decent movie, with a simple story, and serves as a nice respite from the usual noise in the summer blockbuster season. It’s inoffensive and pleasant, with a reasonable little mystery storyline among the overarching romance and family themes.
It’s not a horrible way to pass some time when you’ve had enough of the dinosaurs and all the confused, overused and tired comedic superheroes.
• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.