“Thor: Love and Thunder” (Disney)

Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth star in a scene from the movie "Thor: Love and Thunder." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS/Jasin Boland, Marvel Studios)

By Catholic News Service

Tongue-in-cheek humor paces the vivid action in this third direct sequel to 2011’s “Thor,” adapted, like its immediate predecessor, by director and co-writer Taika Waititi from a series of Marvel Comics.

With a disillusioned former believer in the gods of paganism (Christian Bale) on a killing spree targeting them, the Norse deity of the title (Chris Hemsworth) rallies the sovereign of New Asgard (Tessa Thompson) and another of his sidekicks, an anthropomorphized pile of rocks (voice of Waititi), to stop the villain. But his crusade takes an unexpected detour when he’s reunited with his true love (Natalie Portman), a human astrophysicist who now turns up as his female alter ego, wielding his trademark hammer.

While it’s an aesthetically satisfying extension of the saga, the film’s underlying values range from the straightforward to the complex and the downright murky, making it unsuitable for any but grown moviegoers, all the more so since elements of gender-bending and homosexuality are blended in, and the comedy surrounding the protagonist’s buff physique veers briefly into bawdiness.

Frequent bloodless but sometimes intense battle violence, fleeting rear male nudity, some sexual humor, references to lesbianism, about a half-dozen mild oaths, several crude terms, at least one crass expression. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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