WarningMight contain spoilers.

A good film, but unable to match the incomparable Thor: Ragnarok , which perfectly balanced emotion and humour, using the latter to leaven and enrich the former without undermining. Love and Thunder founders in comparison.. It’s a shame: this is what I was most excited about, more than Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness .

Christian Bale and Russell Crowe are both so good as Gorr and Zeus, respectively, they might have been born for those roles. Gorr seems forgettable in his first appearance, but he’s a force to be reckoned with when he shows up again. I don’t think it’s an accident that he reverts to being devoid of personality as soon as his powers disappear. He has a point, as well, which the gods—especially Zeus—don’t do much to disprove. Thor is the only exception. (On a tangentially related note, I’m baffled by Zeus being called the oldest of the gods immediately following a mention of Ra, to say nothing of even older pantheons.)

I’m all admiration for Natalie Portman. Having spent two films playing the slightly neurotic love interest and skipped the third entirely, she shines here as The Mighty Thor. Even the clichéd cancer plot manages to be a genuine tragedy: Jane unquestionably earns her place in Valhalla. Her statue, and Korg talking about her great sacrifice, brought a lump to my throat. The romance between the two Thors is much more effective than what has come before, too.

I adore the screaming goats, who I wish had been given their mythological names. It filled me with joy to see how much Thor and Drax love them, and how Korg gets along with them, and, best of all, how no one else understands them.

The second half is a drastic improvement on the first. It’s also where most of the visual splendour is, particularly the beautiful rendering of Eternity. The black and white realm is extremely well done. Mjölnir revealing colour in whatever its light touches is reminiscent of how its lightning was used to such great effect in the last film. The shadow monsters are an impressive adaptation of the comic book style.

Hercules is lackluster: while I like the idea of Zeus setting him on Thor in a fit of anger, I find Brett Goldstein to be completely inadequate here. The Guardians are similarly underwhelming, most likely because it’s really Chris Pratt making an appearance with the Guardians in the background. Still, Thor’s interactions with them are suitably amusing. Meanwhile, although the children are very uninteresting, Thor imbuing them with his power to clear out the monsters had me cheering and clapping, as well as laughing with delight at the bunny eyes of doom.

I’m always happy to see Valkyrie (and yet another easily-excised solitary line of dialogue indicating she’s queer), but Asgard being a regular tourist town is a big disappointment. I did enjoy the returning theatre troupe telling the story of Thor, Loki, and Odin. Liam Hemsworth is clearly having far too much fun as the false Thor with a proper, ‘actorly’ accent offstage.