Action Adventure

Ultra HD Blu-ray Review: 'Thor: Ragnarok' Brings the Thunder to 4K

March 6, 2018Ben Mk

Directed by Taika Waititi, Thor: Ragnarok serves as something of a reinvention for the Asgardian God of Thunder. Over the course of two standalone films and two Avengers films, Chris Hemsworth's approach to Thor has essentially been to play the straight man to other more humorously inclined teammates like Tony Stark. But with the mastermind behind What We Do in the Shadows at the helm, Hemsworth has finally been given free rein to show off a whole different side of his character. And we're not just talking about his new superhero garb and radically different buzz cut.

Picking up two years after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the story — a joint effort by screenwriters Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost — sets Thor on a mission to prevent Ragnarok, the prophesied destruction of Asgard. It's something he thinks he has succeeded in doing when he beheads the fiery, horned demon Surtur (Clancy Brown) during the film's prologue. But when Thor's formerly-exiled sister, Hela the Goddess of Death (a deliciously vampy Cate Blanchett), resurfaces to invade Asgard and claim Odin's throne as her own, it quickly becomes apparent that stopping Ragnarok won't be nearly as straightforward as initially thought.

With the plot thus set into motion, the majority of the movie takes place on the planet Sakaar, where Thor and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) both end up marooned after Hela destroys Thor's hammer and sends them hurtling through space. There, they encounter the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), Sakaar's flamboyant ruler who also presides over the gladiator battle known as the "Contest of Champions," Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), a jaded, booze-loving Asgardian warrior, and, of course, the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who's been suppressing his puny alter ego, Bruce Banner, ever since he crash-landed on the planet after disappearing at the end of Age of Ultron.

Bolstered by a kick-ass '80s synth soundtrack and what might quite possibly be the best — if not coolest — use of a Led Zeppelin song in a film, Ragnarok is also happily unconcerned with shoehorning itself into the larger arc of Marvel's big screen superhero machine. Of course, that's not to say that the MCU won't be feeling the ramifications of Thor's third adventure; but aside from bringing the Hulk back into the fold, Waititi and company aren't burdened by the need to close any narrative loopholes. Instead, Thor: Ragnarok is free to be the tongue-in-cheek spectacle that is, and moviegoers are free to just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Thor: Ragnarok brings the thunder to the 4K format, with a stunning audiovisual presentation that more than makes for a worthy successor to Marvel's 4K debut, Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2. Borrowing heavily from the work of legendary comic artist Jack Kirby, Ragnarok literally brings to life some of the most iconic comic panels ever created and boasts the most vibrant shades of red, blue, gold, purple, green and, well, just about every other color imaginable, all of which look absolutely out-of-this-world in 2160p HDR. Plus, if you're a home theater enthusiast, you'll definitely dig the spectacle of the film's climactic battle, which features undead warriors and a giant wolf, all set to Led Zeppelin's classic "Immigrant Song," and rendered in glorious 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos.

Disney's two-disc "Cinematic Universe Edition" includes an iTunes digital copy and a Blu-ray copy of the film. There are no special features on the 4K disc, but the following extras can be found on the Blu-ray:

  • Taika Waititi's Director Intro (1:44) - The option to play the movie preceded by a humorous introduction from the film's director.
  • Featurettes (34:24) - Five featurettes ("Getting in Touch with Your Inner Thor," "Unstoppable Women: Hela & Valkyrie," "Finding Korg," "Sakaar: On the Edge of the Known and Unknown" and "Journey into Mystery") that explore the evolution of Chris Hemsworth's character, the strong female roles played by Cate Blanchett and Tessa Thompson, director Taika Waititi's quirky sense of humor and what he brings to the movie, how the art of Jack Kirby has influenced the world of Sakaar, and how the film draws from comic storylines featured in "Planet Hulk," "Contest of Champions" and "Journey into Mystery."
  • Gag Reel (2:18) - The cast goof around on the set.
  • Team Darryl (6:08) - A continuation of the Team Thor shorts, in which Darryl moves to L.A. and gets a new housemate in the form of the Grandmaster, who also happens to be looking for a new assistant.
  • Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years - The Evolution of Heroes (5:23) - A look at how far the Marvel Cinematic Universe has come in its first decade, from the first Iron Man to Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War.
  • Deleted Scenes (7:20) - Five scenes ("Extended Scene: Thor Meets the Grandmaster," "Extended Scene: Stupid Avenger vs. Tiny Avenger," "Extended Scene: Grandmaster and Topaz," "Skurge Finds Heimdall" and "Hulk Chases Thor Through Sakaar").
  • 8-Bit Sequences (3:15) - Two sequences created to help the filmmakers visualize key scenes from the movie ("Sakaar Spaceship Battle" and "Final Bridge Battle").
  • Audio Commentary - In this director's commentary that's almost as entertaining as the movie itself, Taika Waititi shares a few "fun facts" about the making of the film and talks about the cameos, composer Mark Mothersbaugh's score, the homages paid to Jack Kirby via the costume and production design, the nods to the comics, the visual effects and more.

Thor: Ragnarok is available from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment as of March 6th, 2018. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray features English 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos, English and Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 2 hrs. 10 min.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on November 2nd, 2017.

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