A pattern that has developed starkly in recent years is the delta of opinion between early screening reviewers, and professional movie critics. Now that the reviews for Thor: Love And Thunder are out, we are seeing it again.
Early screenings are often handed out to non-professional outlets such as us. Except we don’t get invited by the big studios. Something about tone, content, audience and refusal to be “on message” apparently. That, and the fact we write articles like this one about them.
The audiences for these early screenings are made up almost entirely of hobbyists, online bloggers and that most despicable of underclass, influencers.
So swept up in the excitement of being “in the club”, with VIP treatment and a carefully studio-cultivated feeling of exclusivity, these reviewers then take to the airwaves, TikTok and their blogs to squee and wee in breathless admiration of what they have just experienced. This builds buzz.
We saw this with Thor: Love And Thunder where the early reviews were stellar. Now, a few days later, the grizzled and cynical professional reviewers are emerging from their synchronised press screenings and the review embargoes are lifting. As is frequently the way, they tell a different story. Their reviews are decidedly mixed and many point to tone as a problem. Here is a selection:
“While reframing Thor as the MCU’s himbo god of jocularity was a solid way of renewing interest in the character, an overabundance of jokes is one of the big reasons why Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder feels like an awkward step back.”
Charles Pulliam-Moore, The Verge
“Thor: Love and Thunder is not nearly as cohesive or propulsive as Thor: Ragnarok, but it’s more ambitious and heartfelt…It can be a bumpy journey at times – but the destination is well worth the trip.”
Germain Lussier, io9.com
“While it has too many familiar flourishes and jokes, this entertaining sequel is still a force for good, with enough visual ambition and heart in front of and behind the camera to stand on its own.”
Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com
“The impressive mix of tones and styles that director Taika Waititi pulled off in Thor: Ragnarok largely fizzles in Thor: Love and Thunder, which isn’t as funny as it wants to be, as stirring as it needs to be or romantic as it ought to be.”
Brian Lowry, CNN.com
“In our accelerated age of pop culture ADHD, it is remarkable how quickly something that feels fresh, can feel awfully familiar just one solo film later. C+”
Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist
“Attempts to balance the jokey tone of Ragnarok with themes and plot points that would feel more at home in an Ingmar Bergman film, and the results cancel each other out.”
Alonso Duralde, TheWrap
“A collision of competing tones, subplots, conceptual big swings and chaos masquerading as pathos, this new addition to the Asgardian-gods-and-monsters corner of Marvel Cinematic Universe is a holy mess.”
David Fear, Rolling Stone
“‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ may not define a high point in the MCU’s ongoing mission of world domination, but it’s not a low point either. 2.5/4”
Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
Thor: Love and Thunder opens around much of the world this Friday. We will no doubt bring you our review in due course, from a normal screening at a normal cinema with normal folk. Not that we are bitter, at all.