Thor: Ragnarok (4K Blu-ray) (2017)

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Released 7-Mar-2018

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Comedy None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2017
Running Time 130:30
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Taika Waititi
Studio
Distributor
Marvel
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Chris Hemsworth
Tom Hiddleston
Cate Blanchett
Idris Elba
Jeff Goldblum
Tessa Thompson
Karl Urban
Mark Ruffalo
Anthony Hopkins
Taika Waititi
Rachel House
Clancy Brown
Ray Stevenson
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $39.95 Music Mark Mothersbaugh


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Atmos
English Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
French Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
German Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
Japanese Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 2160p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Spanish
Cantonese
French
German
Japanese
Korean
Mandarin
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Mid and post-credits scenes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† Movie-goers who believe Marvel blockbusters are too generic or feel factory-made really ought to watch 2017ís Thor: Ragnarok, as it confidently defies those labels and feels like the work of a genuine auteur. Insanely fun and distinctively quirky, with gorgeously colourful visuals and wittiness aplenty, Ragnarok is the shot in the arm that the Marvel Cinematic Universe needed at this point to remind us why we fell in love with this ambitious franchise in the first place. Overseen by Kiwi filmmaker Taika Waititi (2016ís Hunt for the Wilderpeople), this threequel manages to be both thrilling and gut-bustingly funny whilst adding serious scope to the series, and the material is infused with so much endearing energy that itís never a chore to sit through. Leave it to the director of What We Do in the Shadows to create the most wild, entertaining MCU blockbuster to date.

††† When Thor (Chris Hemsworth) defeats the fire demon Surtur (Clancy Brown) in the fiery realm of Muspelheim, he believes that his actions have prevented the prophesied world-destroying event known as Ragnarok. But upon his return to his home of Asgard, Thor realises that his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is missing, and his wayward brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has claimed the throne. Setting out with Loki to find Odin, Thor is instead confronted with the return of Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death, who seeks to take the Asgardian throne that she was denied many years ago. With Thorís hammer Mjolnir destroyed and the brothers cast out, the God of Thunder finds himself on the garbage planet of Sakaar, which is ruled by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). In Sakaarís gladiatorial arena, Thor comes face to face with the reigning champion, The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), while the planet is also home to a former Asgardian warrior, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson). Assembling a team, Thor seeks to return to Asgard and overthrow Hela before she can destroy the Asgardian people.

††† Clocking in at a considerable 130 minutes, Ragnarok broadens the arcs of both Thor and Loki, and serves to re-introduce the Hulk back into the MCU by incorporating elements of the "Planet Hulk" comic book storyline. There is a lot of material to work through, but not a single moment feels dull or laboured under the careful eye of director Waititi, and the story elements are given sufficient breathing room to gain full traction. 2011ís Thor in particular was Shakespearean in tone, but Ragnarok is an outright science fiction fantasy adventure, feeling closer to a road trip movie with shades of Big Trouble in Little China, which is a breath of fresh air after 2013ís hit-and-miss Thor: The Dark World. This is also one of the funniest Marvel movies to date, and the humour almost seems effortless whilst never diminishing the very real stakes of the story. Although Ragnarok admittedly lacks the sheer emotional kick of something like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, there is enough dramatic resonance to prevent the movie from feeling too empty.

††† Selecting independent filmmakers for these huge projects has worked out well for Marvel in the past, and Waititi proves to be yet another inspired choice. Rather than relinquishing his artistic integrity, Waititi thankfully retains his terrific sense of mirth and quirkiness, having loads of fun finding his own vision - a fiery portal to Asgard is named ďThe Devilís Anus,Ē for instance, and Waititi even steps in to play a goofy rock monster named Korg (complete with a thick Kiwi accent), scoring a lot of laughs in the process. The original score by Mark Mothersbaugh is retro and synth-heavy, giving the movie even more flavour. Other soundtrack choices are pure ecstasy, particularly when Led Zeppelinís ďThe Immigrant SongĒ is put to great use to get the adrenaline pumping and bring life to Thorís badass throwdowns. So much personality is visible in every frame of Thor: Ragnarok, standing in stark contrast to the painfully generic disposition of such other MCU movies as Doctor Strange and Ant-Man. Waititiís Ragnarok feels like its own entity, and even though itís stylistically different to the first two Thor movies, itís easy to embrace this bold new vision.

††† As to be expected from a motion picture carrying a reported $180 million price-tag, Ragnarok is a lavish, handsomely-mounted blockbuster, benefitting from competent technical specs across the board. Very little time is spent on Earth, as Waititi is more interested in exploring new areas of the Nine Realms, with special focus on Sakaar and Asgard. It should go without saying at this point, but the vibrant special effects consistently impress. There is computer-generated imagery in abundance to bring the many different worlds and creatures to life, as well as intricate costumes and ornate sets, but it doesnít all look too artificial or phoney - instead, the visuals are convincing and tangible. And despite his inexperience with action, Waititi acquits himself commendably, orchestrating thrilling skirmishes with the confidence of a seasoned veteran. The much-publicised showdown between Thor and Hulk in the gladiatorial arena is a total gas, and we also get to see Hulk in a more laid-back environment, casually enjoying his luxurious apartment which includes a hot tub. Itís a treat to watch Hulk - whose mental capacity is that of a toddler - interact with Thor, delivering comedic dialogue thatís consistently on-point.

††† It was actually Hemsworth who wanted such a radical change for Thor; his hammer is destroyed and his blonde locks are cut, not to mention silliness is foregrounded, allowing for a fresh take on the established character. The Australian actor clearly has a ball, while Hiddleston superbly slips back into the role of Loki (for the first time since The Dark World) as if no time has passed. Blanchett can do this type of role in her sleep, and sheís expectedly excellent, but the show undeniably belongs to Goldblum. Relishing the opportunity to play the ostentatiously debauched Grandmaster, Goldblum steals scenes all over the place, proving to be the movieís secret weapon. Also making a positive impression is Thompson as the hard-drinking, tough-as-nails Valkyrie. Natalie Portman is apparently done with Marvel, and therefore her character of Jane Foster is completely absent for Ragnarok (along with Kat Dennings, Stellan SkarsgŚrd and Chris OíDowd). Itís a tad jarring, especially after the post-credits scene for The Dark World, but Jane would not have a logical place in this space-set story anyway, and she isnít missed amid such an insanely talented ensemble.

††† In the end, rather than feeling like a generic superhero movie, Thor: Ragnarok feels closer to an independently-produced cosmic odyssey with traces of Flash Gordon and the aforementioned Big Trouble in Little China, and itís an oddly appropriate addition to Waititiís budding filmography. Itís clear that everybody had a great time making this third Thor, as thereís so much energy and enthusiasm on full display, and it never feels like itís going through the motions. We may be a decade (and seventeen movies) into the MCU, but with its top-notch 2017 release slate, it shows no signs of fatigue.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† Well thank goodness - as it turns out, Disney's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was not a one-off. To the joy of videophiles the world over, the studio has properly taken to the 4K Blu-ray format, though we're still waiting for the studio to begin catalogue releases. The second Disney-release MCU movie to receive the 4K Blu-ray treatment, Thor: Ragnarok is an obvious choice for the format, as the standard Blu-ray cannot do it justice. Although Taika Waititi's offbeat blockbuster was captured at 6.5K resolution with Arri Alexa 65 cameras, it was only completed at 2K resolution, which one supposes was a cost-saving measure given the production's vast reliance on digital effects. This 2160p, HEVC/H.265-encoded presentation therefore presumably represents an upscale from the 2K digital intermediate, but the upgrade is nevertheless appreciable and apparent from the outset. Like the standard Blu-ray, the movie is framed at its original aspect ratio of 2.39:1, with the IMAX framing being saved for the 3D release. Since there are no extras on the 4K disc, the movie has the entire dual-layered BD-66 to itself, maximising the bitrate for the best possible presentation on disc. With the increase in resolution and the boost to the colour palette thanks to the beautiful use of High Dynamic Range, Thor: Ragnarok is a big winner on 4K Blu-ray.

††† Despite being considered an "upscale," fine detail is exceptional across the board, representing a big step up over the standard Blu-ray. Even in wide shots, skin and clothing looks significantly more textured - see Sam Neill's costume at the 12-minute mark, or Odin's robes in the same scene. CG characters like Hulk and Korg look all the better in 4K, as the highly-detailed digital effects work is put on proper display. CGI does tend to look soft in less skilful motion pictures, but no such issues plague Ragnarok, which benefits from marvellous VFX work. No matter the lighting conditions, this 4K presentation brings out as much fine detail as the source permits. For the most part, the transfer is free of source noise, but it thankfully never looks too smooth or smeary, and there are no signs of digital noise reduction. Clarity is superb, with the presentation never looking soft, muddled or lacking in detail. Textures are noticeably improved compared to the 4K Blu-ray of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which I felt looked a bit lacking. In addition, much like Ragnarok's standard Blu-ray, sharpness is stunning - every shot is razor-sharp, allowing you to count the hairs on Hemsworth's face, or the blades of grass when Thor and Loki find Odin. Luckily, Disney's encode is also competent, never giving rise to unsightly video artefacts - I did not detect any banding, aliasing, macroblocking or any other anomalies. On my 65" OLED TV, it's smooth sailing across the board.

††† As ever, it's the disc's use of High Dynamic Range and Wide Colour Gamut which really elevates the 4K presentation above its 1080p counterpart. As ever, videophiles are destined to complain that the disc's HDR is only encoded in HDR10, as opposed to Dolby Vision which is how it was originally exhibited, but it's hard to imagine much meaningful improvement being afforded with a DV presentation. (Star Wars: The Last Jedi is set to be Disney's first Dolby Vision 4K disc.) Colours in the opening wide shot of Thor's cage are much stronger than the standard Blu-ray, and object delineation is superior. The fires of Surtur's planet are piercing, leaping off the screen - you can almost feel the heat. In fact, fire as a whole looks more accurate and realistic with the HDR grade. On Sakaar, colours pop all over the place, while the insanely colourful climax which takes place on the BifrŲst Bridge is given a huge boost with the smart use of HDR. In short, every scene looks deeper and more vibrant, with flawless contrast and inkier blacks. Landscape shots on Asgard have more depth to them, and flesh tones are consistently pleasing. Under lower light, details are stronger and the image looks more balanced. Never does the movie look even remotely drab or in need of more "pop" - even more visually subdued scenes (such as Thor landing on Sakaar) look beautiful, upping the ante compared to the 1080p presentation. When the Hulk sits in a bath in darkness, the green colours of his skin still stand out. The HDR grading is not as aggressive as something like Kingsman: The Golden Circle, but it looks perfectly-judged across the board.

††† All things considered, this 4K Ultra HD presentation is outstanding. It's an almost reference-quality presentation from the House of Mouse that won't leave anybody unsatisfied. Of course, the transfer still appears to be oh-so-slightly held back by the source, and a native 4K finish might have improved the presentation to a certain degree, but that's about the only remotely negative thing I can say. This is precisely the reason why videophiles have long wanted Disney to start releasing Marvel movies on 4K.

††† Subtitles are available in several languages. The English subtitle track is free of issues to my eyes.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† For its 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray debut, Disney provides a Dolby Atmos track which is in keeping with how it was originally mixed. But the Atmos mix sounds much the same as the 7.1 track that's included on the standard Blu-ray, suffering from exactly the same shortcomings - this is not the home run that it rightfully should be. The audio is noticeably mixed a bit too low, and lacks the precise crispness that we expect from a lossless audio track, particularly considering the movie's huge budget. Indeed, you'll find yourself cranking up the volume louder than usual. Weirdly, the music which plays over the movie's disc menu sounds richer and crisper than the actual movie. And that's a bit of a shame given the strengths of Mark Mothersbaugh's terrifically offbeat original score, but it still sounds clear enough in the movie proper I guess, filling all available channels. Led Zeppelin's "The Immigrant Song" also sounds great whenever it's used throughout the movie.

††† When the audio is at its best, it can be impressive - there are certainly no problems with the track's dynamic range. Panning effects are used, and certain sounds are precisely placed in the soundscape. Right before Thor's cage opens in the first scene, mechanism sounds come from all around, while you can hear Thor's hammer travelling and hitting objects whenever he summons it. Any time Thor's hammer flies past the camera, meanwhile, the sound initially comes from the rear channels. Ditto for any other projectiles that fly past the camera, such as Hela's attack on Surtur during the climax. At times the subwoofer is put to good use, with Surtur's voice sounding booming, but other sound effects are a bit limp, in need of more impact. The conversation that the Grandmaster has with Valkyrie and Topaz during his first meeting with Thor is troublesome - the dialogue in the entire scene is mixed too softly, and that can't be helped simply by raising the volume, as it actually sounds a bit muffled. This same issue plagues several other scenes, such as Hela awakening her army. Quite simply, it's something you would not expect from a major studio release. At the very least, however, I didn't detect any pops, clicks, drop-outs or sync issues.

††† I'm not exactly sure what went wrong during the encoding of Thor: Ragnarok's Blu-ray audio, but it sounds more like a lossy track as opposed to a crisp lossless mix. It's not bad per se, and those with soundbars or just TV speakers might not notice the shortcomings, but I easily noticed them on my 7.1 surround sound set-up.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††† As usual, the 4K disc contains no supplemental material. However, the included standard Blu-ray contains a worthwhile supply of extras. (Luckily, there are no signs that Disney plans to begin ditching 4K combo packs, as they once did with 3D.)

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † All 4K discs appear to be identical for the most part - this is actually the same disc that was released in the United Kingdom. Buy local with confidence.

Summary

††† It's hard not to love Thor: Ragnarok, which manages to be funny and exciting in equal measure, not to mention the visuals are seriously stunning. It's arguably one of the best movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far.

††† The 4K presentation is reference-quality, pure and simple. Despite being an "upscale," the disc looks seriously beautiful, representing a huge improvement over the 1080p Blu-ray. The audio, however, has flaws, which is unfortunate. How odd that this is a new release, yet folks already want a double dip with superior audio. Still, the movie is great, the video remains excellent, and the extras on the accompanying Blu-ray are terrific - on balance, this one comes recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Saturday, March 17, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDLG UP970 4K UHD HDR Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

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