Thor: Ragnarok turns the Thor sub-franchise on its head, delivering an often hilarious turn on the super hero genre after the two previous entries took the lead character sometimes a bit too seriously and very by the numbers.
Since we last saw Thor (Chris Hemswoth) in Avengers: Age of Ultron, he has been travelling the cosmos searching for the infinity stones, only to be captured by Surtur (voiced by Clancy Brown), who tells Thor of the prophecy of Ragnarok and the impending destruction of Asgard. Thor defeats Surtur and his army (after a few technical glitches), heads back to Asgard, only to find Loki (Tom Hiddleston) impersonating his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins). The two brothers head off to Earth to find Odin, but are stopped by Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), who after some interrogation, reveals Odin’s hiding place in Norway. But Odin is fading, knowing that Ragnarok is coming, and no one can stop it, once Thor’s older sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett), also,known as the goddess of death, arrives to take over the throne of Asgard and banishes Thor and Loki to the junk planet Sakaar and turned over to the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), who presides over gladiator-style fights to the death. As luck or fate would have it, Thor’s first opponent is Sakaar’s all-time champion, The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). With the help of the last surviving Valkyrie soldier (Tess Thompson) who also has a bit of a drinking problem, the four band together to form, as Thor refers to them, The Revengers, to take back Asgard from Hela.
From the moment the Marvel Studios logo descends into the fiery depths of the pit holding our hero in Thor: Ragnarok, we know we are in for something very different from the two previous movies in the series. Director Taika Waititi (What We Do In the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) infuses an oddball sense of self-deprecating humor that suits the story quite well, breathing some fresh air into the series. Chris Hemsworth finally gets the opportunity to show his knack of comedic timing with the material provided (something he has only been able to show in supporting roles in Ghostbusters and the little-seen Vacation reboots). Both Blanchett and Goldblum are delightfully over the top with their performances, and are obviously having way too much fun in their villainous roles. Karl Urban even gets to have same fun as the double-crossing Skurge. Mark Ruffalo proves to be a great straight man as both Hulk and Bruce Banner to Hemsworth’s Thor, providing a nice buddy relationship between the two characters.
Thor: Ragnarok was captured at up to 6K resolution on Arri Alexa 65 and Phantom Flex4K cameras and completed as a 2K digital intermediate with Dolby Vision high dynamic range in some theatrical venues. Disney’s 4K UHD Blu-ray contains the film in a 2160p upscale with HDR10, retaining the film’s 2.39:1 standard theatrical aspect ratio (sorry, no IMAX version included here). There is a noticeable uptick in fine detail, particularly in close-ups and fabric textures on costumes. This is also a very colorful film, making good use of the wider color gamut that both UHD and HDR10 provide. While not as vibrant as other films on the format (Cars 3, Blade Runner 2049), the colors are still much bolder and solid here than they appear on the 1080p Blu-ray. Contrast gets a significant boost, with deep blacks that retain strong shadow detail and even more impressive are the lightening effects that almost take on a life of their own on the UHD version.
Disney goes a bit overboard, in my opinion, when it comes to audio choices on their UHD releases. With Thor: Ragnarok, we are provided with a Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 track (with TrueHD 7.1 core) and a rather redundant Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 track (encoded at 1.0 Mbps). Both are very good, although I would recommend the Atmos track even for those not equipped for Atmos, as the DD+ track does not have the frequency or dynamic range that a lossless track can reproduce. There is an added sense of immersion, even when played back in a 5.1.2 configuration, but I would not call this track anywhere near reference quality. It is almost as if the sound engineers and mixers were restrained from throwing in everything including the kitchen sink. The track feels anemic, at times. LFE is relatively weak, never really allowed to shake the floorboards when Thor levels his mighty hammer early on or when Hulk and Thor battle it out on Sakaar, but still stronger than on the DD+ track on this disc or the DTS-HD MA 7.1 track on the Blu-ray. Surrounds are active, but never as active as one would expect based on the spectacle on display. It’s a fun mix, don’t get me wrong, but could have been, and should have been, much stronger overall. A word of warning – on both the UHD and Blu-ray discs, the menu has been recorded at a much higher volume than the movie.
All of the special features can be found on the included 1080p Blu-ray version of the film.
Audio Commentary with Director Taika Waititi: This is a very wild and strange track, showcasing the director’s odd sense of humor, which starts off with him seemingly only interested in telling you lies (or half-truths) about how the movie was made, eventually settling down and getting somewhat serious in his discussion on making the film.
Director’s Introduction (1080p; 1:44): Available under the PLAY menu, this short intro gives viewers a taste of what to expect in the commentary track above.
Getting In Touch With Your Inner Thor (1080p; 6:39): A look at the evolution of the Thor character and the performance by Chris Hemsworth.
Unstoppable Women: Hela & Valyrie (1080p; 5:58): A look at the two main female characters in the film.
Finding Korg (1080p; 7:34): Taika Waititi humorously discusses his motion-capture performance as the rock man Korg.
Sakaar: On the Edge of the Known and Unknown (1080p; 8:24): A look at the new world introduced in the film.
Journey Into Mystery (1080p; 5:47): How this film fits into the MCU.
Gag Reel (1080p; 2:18)
Team Darryl (1080p; 6:08): Thor has moved out, and the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) has moved in as Darryl’s new rommmate.
Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years – The Evolution of Heroes (1080p; 5:23): A look back at the MCU from Iron Man to Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War.
Deleted Scenes (1080p; 5:43): A total of five extended and deleted scenes from the film – Thor Meets the Grandmaster (Extended), Stupid Avenger vs. Tiny Avenger (Extended), Grandmaster and Topaz (Extended), Skurge Finds Hemdall, and Hulk Chases Thor Through Sakaar.
8-Bit Sequences (1080p): Two sequences in rough animatic form using 8-bit style 1980s video game graphics – Sakaar Spaceship Battle (0:58) and Final Bridge Battle (2:17).
Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy on Movies Anywhere. Movies Anywhere indicated that the code granted 4K rights to the movie, and did so on Vudu only. No 4K on Amazon Video or Google Play Movies.
Thor: Ragnarok may not be for everyone, but it is definitely what the Thor movies needed to freshen things up as we head into Avengers: Infinity War this summer.
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