“Your ancestors called it magic, but you call it science,” Thor said to Jane Foster in Marvel’s first Thor movie (2011). “I come from a land where they are one and the same.”
Whatever it’s called, the magic is gone. At least for the God of Thunder’s run under director Taika Waititi.
Thor: Love and Thunder has some beautiful visuals, creative set pieces, and compelling character arcs, especially for Natalie Portman’s Foster. But the story trying to hold them all together is too weak to build a satisfying film that ranks among the best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
What makes this so disappointing is that Waititi’s previous Thor film, 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, was such a refreshing change of direction from the other Marvel movies with its fast pace, outlandish color palette, and bold designs influenced by legendary artists like Jack Kirby, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Moebius. (The new wave soundtrack by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh added to the alien atmosphere.)
I’m just guessing that Ned Beatty wouldn’t want his role as Otis, Lex Luthor’s bumbling sidekick, in Superman: The Movie to be the first thing mentioned when looking back at his career. (I’m imagining Alec Guinness rolling his eyes when he was immediately attached to Obi-Wan Kenobi by so many when he passed away.)
But maybe Beatty wouldn’t have minded either. Generations of fans remember him fondly in that film and it provided much needed comic relief among Christopher Reeve’s big blue boy scout and Gene Hackman’s megalomanical villain (who bullied poor Otis a bit too much). There are worse legacies for an actor to leave behind.
I’m not certain Jungleland is a sports movie, though it does take place in the world of underground bare-knuckle boxing. The story ultimately depends on the outcome of a sporting event, however. So it probably fits into that category.
Regardless, you might not guess that this was directed by Max Winkler, who’s mostly known for comedy work on TV shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, New Girl, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Jungleland follows brothers Stan (Charlie Hunnam, FX‘s “Sons of Anarchy”) and Walter “Lion” Kaminski (Jack O’Connell, Unbroken) as they pursue success in the underground world of bare-knuckle boxing. Lion was a promising Golden Gloves fighter, but any hopes of a professional career were ruined when Stan tried to bribe a referee.
Thanks to his recent acting performances in The Mandalorian and Jack Reacher, Werner Herzog has become something of a cultural meme. His dour expression, dry narration, and nihilistic philosophy makes for great parody when applied to absurdity.
But it can’t be forgotten that Herzog is still a fascinating, distinct filmmaker. His latest documentary, Nomad, is a powerful tribute to writer Bruce Chatwin, whose work and approach to life Herzog admired.
My Spy wouldn’t be nearly as fun without Dave Bautista carrying the entire venture on his formidably muscled shoulders. Any doubters who dismissed Bautista as another pro wrestler trying to be a movie star like Dwayne Johnson were likely silenced by the comic timing he showed in the Guardians of the Galaxy films.
Bautista has continued to use that talent for deadpan humor in comedies like Stuber, and with My Spy, he’s taking the step to family-friendly action star, which elevated the careers of Johnson, Vin Diesel and John Cena. (Bautista is also a producer here, showing he knows this is the right move, balanced with his roles in upcoming spectacles such as Dune, Army of the Dead and a third Guardians movie.)