LONDON - The latest Thor movie has received broadly positive reviews with critics describing it as “fun” but “silly”. Thor: Love and Thunder is the fourth instalment in the superhero series, based on the Marvel Comics character. In a plot twist, it sees Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster returning with superior powers to her ex-boyfriend Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth. The Guardian said the follow-up to Thor: Ragnarok “repeats some of that masterwork’s tongue-in-cheek approach”. In a three-star review, Peter Bradshaw said it was another “cosmic spectacular in the tradition of Mike Hodges’ Flash Gordon”, filled with “nice gags” and “big cameos”, although he “missed some of the major characters” from the previous films. The movie was directed by Oscar-winner Taika Waititi who also features on-screen alongside Hemsworth, Portman, Christian Bale, Tessa Thompson and Jaimie Alexander. The plot finds Thor on a search for inner peace after the apocalyptic events of 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. But his quest for karma is interrupted by Gorr the God Butcher (Bale) who is seeking the extinction of the gods... Thor included. To battle this evil, he enlists the help of Valkyrie (Thompson), Korg (Waititi), and his old earthling astrophysicist flame Jane - now in possession of Thor’s famous hammer and a red cape of her own.

“The film is probably on its strongest ground with the most purely absurd touches, such as the squabbling rivalry between the hammer Mjölnir, and his new weapon, the axe Stormbreaker - which is always crowding into the frame suspiciously when Thor starts swoonily hanging out with Mjölnir, unable to accept that Mjölnir is with Dr Foster now,” wrote Bradshaw.

“Thor himself has conquered his weight issues, and is now a fine figure of alpha-maledom who literally makes young goddesses faint in one scene after he is disrobed and his manhood (or rather godhood) is revealed to them.”

While still full of “silliness”, the new film has its “more solemn” moments, Bradshaw continued, with reference to Dr Foster’s cancer and references to her chemotherapy.

But it is ultimately “effectively ruled by one cameo”, the critic warned, from a big Hollywood name - who we won’t name here, don’t worry - as Zeus.

The comedy or “self-satire” that has become Marvel’s trademark of late, he concluded “is becoming a bit of a cul de sac - but that isn’t to say it isn’t still funny, and Thor still delivers a mighty hammer-blow, or rather axe-blow, of fun.”