Tuesday , May 21 2024

Blu-ray Review: ‘Thor: Ragnarok’

Thor is certainly an iconic character in the Marvel universe but has been a hit or miss as far as the movies were concerned.  In the original Thor movie there was a charm to his fish out of water character, but in the sequel his character felt too stiff and boring.  In the Avengers movies he came across with a bit more humor, so the message was a bit mixed on what exactly the cinematic Thor was all about.  Whether they stick with it or not the Thor we see in Ragnarok is the most likable and noble we have seen yet and is part of why Thor: Ragnarok is my favorite Marvel movie since the original Iron Man.

The Movie

Thor: Ragnarok is a very large movie that is essentially about a family squabble.  The heart of the film is about two brothers, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who both feel they failed their father Odin in one way or another and their sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) who just wants to burn everything down because Odin banished her.  The ensuing conflict brings major changes to Thor, Loki, the Hulk and, in particular, Asgard.   These changes will be felt throughout the remainder of the current phase of the Marvel movies and bring these characters forward in a way that is incredibly satisfying.

When I say this is my favorite Marvel film since Iron Man I am not kidding. I saw this twice in the theater and twice more at home for this review and enjoyed the movie more and more each time.  The director Taika Waititi took every character he was handed and made them instantly more amazing than you could have imagined.  Even the small roles like Dr. Strange were improved by his direction.

Thor is shown as a noble and charismatic leader but also funny and blissfully unaware of things that are uninteresting to him.  Loki’s charm continues to ooze through but a moral backbone is starting to emerge out of perhaps loyalty or brotherly love?  The Hulk – and Bruce Banner – stand out as the best representation of the characters to date.  The Hulk is more of a person then we have ever seen and Banner is self aware of the risks and still willing to change if needed.  Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) is supremely capable but hiding from her past with jokes and drinking.  Hela is as charming and deadly as she is beautiful and even manages to crack a few dark jokes in the process.

The Grandmaster played by Jeff Goldblum is perhaps my favorite part of the film in a crowded landscape of characters.  His presence, manners, and sheer enjoyment of the role made this a character that chewed scenery like a kid eats candy.  Other side actors like Scourge (Karl Urban), Heimdall (Idris Elba) and Korg (Taika Waititi) are also represented in ways that are both interesting and amusing.  The scene where Scourge playing with a shake weight is probably the funniest thing I have seen in a movie in a long while.

All in all Thor: Ragnorak is not only a terrific super-hero film, it is just a damn fun movie to watch.  My only quibble is that the tongue in cheek humor does make it hard at times to feel the gravitas of the situation.  There are truly deep stakes in this movie – Asgard is in peril as are the 9 realms they safeguard and at times that threat is not carried through in a way that has weight.  Despite this Thor: Ragnarok is an outstanding experience that sets the bar very high for future Marvel movies that are not trying to be deadly serious (I am looking at you Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy).

The Video

Striking is the word that came to mind often as I watched Thor: Ragnarok on Blu-ray.  For most of the movie there are vivid colors on display, from the gladiator pits of Sakaar to the gleaming halls and vistas of Asgard this is a very pretty movie.  Color depth is amazing as is the black levels adding a visual pop to the movie that is a pleasure to see. The incredible visual effects such as Surtur’s flames at the beginning of the movie and the rainbow bridge later on are incredibly well done and meld seamlessly with the live effects.

This is an effects heavy film and usually, even in the best of transfers, there is some degradation in the image from compression or artifacting, but none of that was present here.  Thor: Ragnarok is presented in a 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 33 Mbps and looks amazing.

The Audio

Featuring a lossless DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack Thor: Ragnarok sounds very good but I did notice that larger effects do not have the same oomph as their visual counterparts.  A key sequence where Thor and The Hulk collide in an explosion of energy is understated in it’s audio presentation as are a number of other key scenes.  Dialogue and low ambient noise are handled exceptionally well with no issues with cross-talk or overshadowed conversations.  The music is pretty stellar with classic rock tunes used to great effect as is traditional music tracks.  A completely serviceable audio track that neither overwhelms or underwhelms.


The Extras

Thor: Ragnarok is packed full of many extras, most are well worth checking out, but some fall flat.  The most disappointing (for me at least) was the Director’s Commentary as I found it fairly boring and too disjointed.  I know these are hard to do well, but Taika talking alone made for a weird experience.  He joked far too often and in ways that added confusion to the scenes and he did not add as much depth as I was hoping.  A perfect commentary would have been him and the main cast chatting about the movie but I know that is hard to pull off.

The rest of the extras are pretty good, the gag reel is always fun and the more in depth looks at Korg, Hela, Valkyrie, and the planet Sakaar where enjoyable.  The deleted scenes were what you would expect, expect for the one with Yondu (Michael Rooker) that one is just silly and I loved it.  The 8-bit scenes mapping out some key moments is quite interesting to watch and a fun take on pivotal sequences.  The one extra I was really excited for was Team Daryl meeting Grandmaster but it was not quite as amusing as when Thor was around.  Jeff Goldblum is brilliant as always but the dynamic was off, Thor was there for fun, Grandmaster shifted too quickly to creepy domination.

  • Director’s Introduction
  • Deleted/Extended Scenes – Deleted Scenes: The Sorcerer Supreme, Skurge Finds Heimdall & Hulk Chases Thor Through Sakaar and Extended Scenes: Thor Meets the Grandmaster, Stupid Avenger vs. Tiny Avenger & Grandmaster and Topaz
  • Gag Reel – Watch a collection of goofs, gaffes and pratfalls starring the cast
  • Exclusive Short/Team Darryl – Fresh off being unseated as the ruler of Sakaar, the Grandmaster makes his way to Earth to start a new life. It’s been over a year since Thor left Australia and Darryl has been struggling to pay his rent. Now Darryl needs a new roommate to help make the monthly payments. Unfortunately for Darryl, the Grandmaster was the only one who answered Darryl’s “Roommate Needed” ad and with no viable options, the Grandmaster moves in.
  • Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years – The Evolution of Heroes – Marvel’s universe is vast and transcends both time and space. We’ll examine the Cinematic Universe as a whole and revisit each of our heroes’ current location and their place in the current MCU timeline, as it all leads up to the one culminating event: “Avengers: Infinity War.”
  • Getting in Touch with Your Inner Thor – “Thor: Ragnarok” director Taika Waititi has brought his unique sensibility and sense of humor to the film in a great many ways but it is the evolution of Thor’s own sense of humor, which stands out the most in the new film. This piece explores the impact Chris Hemsworth has made on the development of his widely-loved character and celebrates the mighty cast and crew who reveal the fun and hard work that went into assembling Thor’s eccentric counterparts.
  • Unstoppable Women: Hela & Valkyrie – This piece explores the strong female characters in “Thor: Ragnarok,” their importance in the MCU, their incredible casting and their epic comic origins.
  • Finding Korg – A tongue-in-cheek interview with Taika on casting Korg. He describes the difficult search for just the right evolution of the character design, and the nuances of this instantly classic character in the MCU. This conversation will also delve into all the extraordinary visual effects that brought Korg, Sakaar and the worlds of “Thor: Ragnarok” to life.
  • Sakaar: On the Edge of the Known and Unknown – Sakaar is the collection point for all lost and unloved things. This documentary will answer all known and unknown questions while also exploring the hard work and creativity that went into creating the look and feel of Sakaar. From design inspired by Jack Kirby’s classic artwork to the dedication of the visual development team to the awe-inspiring physical and digital production, you will see this distant world come alive.
  • Journey into Mystery – A deep dive story piece with the writers, director and producer Kevin Feige about the inspirations for Thor: Ragnarok within the comics. Most notably, the contest of champions limited series where the Grandmaster pitted our favorite heroes against one another as he does in the film. This piece also further explores Thor’s comic book origins and classic arcs through interviews with some of the most important comic creators, such as Walt Simonson and Jack Kirby.
  • 8bit Scenes – Final Bridge Battle + Sakaar Spaceship Battle. Dive into these climactic sequences presented in retro video-game format.
  • Directors Commentary

The Final Word

As mentioned Thor: Ragnarok is one of my favorite Marvel films in quite a while and this Blu-ray release does the source material justice.  The transfer is astounding with colors popping of the screen and the audio works great to convey the dynamic nature of the film.  There are many extras that add to the experience and are well worth watching.  In the end the film itself is just damn fun to watch with funny and strong performances from the entire cast.  The movie may take a quirky spin to the tale of Thor but it does it in a way that improves the character and those around him in a way that will improve the next part of Thor’s journey in the Marvel Cinematic universe.  Thor: Ragnarok is out right now in HD and 4K Ultra HD Digital formats and will release on physical 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray formats on March 6.

About Michael Prince

A longtime video game fan starting from simple games on the Atari 2600 to newer titles on a bleeding edge PC I play everything I can get my hands on.

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