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Thor: Ragnarok (Blu-ray) (2017)
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Details At A Glance
Introduction-with Director Taika Waititi
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Getting In Touch With Your Inner Thor
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Unstoppable Women: Hela & Valkyrie
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Finding Korg
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Sakaar: On the Edge of the Known and Unknown
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Journey Into Mystery
Short Film-Team Darryl
Featurette-Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years - The Evolution of Heroe
Additional Footage-8-Bit Sequences
Audio Commentary-with Director Taika Waititi
Year Of Production
||Cast & Crew
||Language Select Then Programme
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.
††† 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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††† One of 2017's most wildly entertaining blockbusters simultaneously debuts on Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray courtesy of Walt Disney Home Entertainment. Presented in AVC-encoded 1080p high definition, Thor: Ragnarok is mastered with a respectable average video bitrate of 24 Mbps, and while the result is no match for its 4K Ultra HD counterpart, the encode is pleasing nevertheless. The Blu-ray retains the movie's original framing of 2.39:1, and is not opened up during the IMAX sequences - as ever, Disney saves the IMAX framing for the 3D Blu-ray. Luckily, the movie - which does run a beefy 131 minutes, after all - is placed on a dual-layered BD-50, though the fact that the feature has to share the disc with the special features does mean that the bitrate is not maxed out.
††† First things first, the compression does take its toll on the presentation to a slight but noticeable degree - this is not as insanely refined as some of the more top-tier Disney presentations like the last two Star Wars movies. Certain shots look a touch smooth on the whole, and textures are not as precise as they are on the 4K Blu-ray. However, the transfer is still stable despite its shortcomings, never looking smeary or soft, and fine detail is generally good. Ragnarok was shot digitally with Arri Alexa 65 cameras by cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe (Goosebumps, The Finest Hours), and the 1080p presentation looks incredibly pristine - the transfer was visibly minted direct from the digital intermediate, as clarity is superb and it never looks muddy or murky. It would be borderline impossible to make a movie as visually stunning as this look bad, but the competent encode is appreciable all the same. Fine detail and texturing is strong across the board - even the digitally-created Hulk looks insanely detailed thanks to the superb work of the visual effects team. I did note that the Blu-ray of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was slightly lacking from a detail standpoint, which was presumably due to the RED cameras, but no such shortcomings are present here. This is a strong and faithful recreation of the cinematic experience. (I watched it twice on the big screen.)
††† In addition, this Blu-ray presentation is razor-sharp, and features strong highlights across the board - pores and wrinkles are effortlessly brought out, while you can make out ample textures on costumes and sets. Meanwhile, the colour palette looks accurate to how the movie was exhibited in the cinema. Ragnarok is extremely colourful from top to bottom, and the encode handles the vibrant palette as well as can be expected. Black levels are satisfying (see any scene set in space), while forests look lush and the colours in certain scenes leap off the screen. (Just see the climax, with the fireworks behind Valkyrie. Or hell, watch any scene on Sakaar.) Sure, contrast could occasionally use a bit of a boost, skin tones sometimes look a touch pale, and the colours could occasionally use a bit more "pop," but this standard Blu-ray is still highly pleasing considering the limitations of 1080p. Fortunately, the encode never falls victim to any unsightly encoding errors - no banding, aliasing or macroblocking ever crops up, and though source noise does creep in from time to time, it's always well-resolved and never proves to be a distraction.
††† Thor: Ragnarok is only the second Disney-released MCU movie to receive a 4K UHD release, after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Spider-Man: Homecoming was handled by Sony), and it's exciting that we can finally rely on such releases. But those without the ability to watch or play 4K releases should still find this standard Blu-ray to be satisfying enough. It's just that for the real finicky viewers like myself who are spoiled by 4K releases, it is getting harder to overlook the inherent shortcomings of the standard Blu-ray format.
††† Subtitles are available in English and Russian. I had no issues reading the English track, which is well-formatted and free of errors.
Video Ratings Summary
††† Thor: Ragnarok was mixed in Dolby Atmos, which is how it was presented during its theatrical run in selected cinemas. To the usual chagrin of audiophiles, Disney have downgraded the audio for this standard Blu-ray, only offering a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix. But perhaps more troubling than the loss of channels is the evident compression and flawed encoding, which brings back uncomfortable memories of the seriously problematic Avengers: Age of Ultron Blu-ray. No, it's not quite that bad, but 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
|Surround Channel Use|
††† A fairly paint-by-numbers package from Disney; barely forty minutes of featurettes, some outtakes, a few deleted scenes, a short film and an audio commentary. This still feels too light on the whole for such a successful, big-budget blockbuster, but the effort is still appreciated.
Director Introduction (HD; 1:44) ††† As with the introduction on the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Blu-ray, this can only be accessed when you press "Play" from the main menu - it's not in the bonus features section. Anyway, director Taika Waititi introduces the movie in an amusing manner. Fans of the movie, and of Taika, should get a few laughs out of this.
Getting In Touch With Your Inner Thor (HD; 6:39) ††† All of the featurettes on the disc fall under a submenu, which allows you to watch each segment individually or via a "Play All" function (the total length for the featurettes is 34:24). This first behind-the-scenes featurette covers the origins of the project. Cast and crew talk about the history of the Thor series, bringing aboard Waititi to change things up, the evolution of the character, and Hemsworth's performance. It's intercut with amusing clips from the movie, as well as goofy behind-the-scenes footage which makes the production look like one big party.
Unstoppable Women: Hela & Valkyrie (HD; 5:58) ††† This brief but nevertheless worthwhile featurette takes a closer look at Hela and Valkyrie, who change up the dynamic of the movie. The cast and crew talk about the importance of including female characters in major motion pictures, and the significance of representation. It's clear that Blanchett and Thompson had a great time portraying these characters.
Finding Korg (HD; 7:34) ††† Waititi takes the spotlight in this humorous behind-the-scenes segment, which concentrates on his efforts as both an actor and a director. Plenty of enjoyable on-set footage is mixed with interviews featuring cast and crew, who wax lyrical about working with Taika and enthusiastically discuss what he brought to the movie. Even Anthony Hopkins has nothing but nice things to say. Taika's appearance as Korg is also covered, and the director enjoys humorously talks about himself in the third person. If you only watch one featurette on this disc, make it this one.
Sakaar: On the Edge of the Known and Unknown (HD; 8:24) †† Although too brief on the whole, here we have an informative and entertaining featurette about the planet Sakaar, and Jeff Goldblum's character of the Grandmaster. Cast and crew talk about taking from the comic books in terms of content and visuals, while Thor's gladiatorial match with Hulk is covered.
Journey Into Mystery (HD; 5:47) ††† This final featurette concentrates on the movie's place in the MCU (it was designed to take place at the same time as Captain America: Civil War) and the comic book influence. Everybody involved is fond of Jack Kirby's artwork, and the crew worked to incorporate some of his iconic images into the movie.
Gag Reel (HD; 2:18) ††† No surprises here - this collection of outtakes and general on-set tomfoolery is hilarious. Even director Waititi can't help himself, popping into the frame to dance at certain points. As ever, it's clear that everybody had a ball making this movie.
Team Darryl (HD; 6:08) ††† A follow-up to the hilarious Team Thor shorts, this next instalment sees the Grandmaster moving in with the poor, long-suffering Darryl. Directed by Waititi, this short had me laughing from start to finish, and I couldn't wipe the big smirk off my face. Trust me, this is worth watching.
Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years - The Evolution of Heroes (HD; 5:23) ††† Key Marvel cast and crew members briefly discuss the franchise so far, going back to the first Iron Man in 2008. This leads to a very brief look at the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War.
Deleted Scenes (HD; 5:43)††† Five deleted and extended scenes are included here, which can either be watched individually or via a "Play All" function. It's easy to see why most of this material was trimmed or streamlined - none of it is very good.
- Extended Scene: Thor Meets The Grandmaster
- Extended Scene: Stupid Avenger vs. Tiny Avenger
- Extended Scene: Grandmaster and Topaz
- Skurge Finds Heimdall
- Hulk Chases Thor Through Sakaar
8-Bit Sequences (HD)††† Two sequences are presented here in basic, crudely-animated 8-bit style, reminiscent of old arcade video games. Although not essential, these segments are a fun novelty which are very much in keeping with the movie's style. These can only be viewed individually. Included is:
- Sakaar Spaceship Battle (0:58)
- Final Bridge Battle (2:17)
Audio Commentary ††† Director Taika Waititi goes solo for this feature-length audio commentary track. He starts thing off on an amusing note, humming along and singing to the Marvel introductory theme, before getting into a mostly scene-specific discussion of the production, intermixed with jokes. Throughout the track,he has a lot of fun making amusing comments about the actors and what's happening on-screen, and he points out that the entire movie was shot in Australia (the New York City scene was actually filmed in Brisbane). Topics include things taken from the comic books, the actors, the characters, and more - he also points out that Thor's meeting with Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) was shot many months before principal photography proper (since it was the Doctor Strange post-credits scene). In addition, Thor's line "He's a friend from work" about the Hulk was suggested by a young "Make a Wish Foundation" boy who was visiting the set for a day. Waititi's daughter even features in the commentary track, which is adorable - her comments are a highlight (she even says she wants to watch Moana instead). Waititi does mention that Hemsworth and Ruffalo enjoyed humorously riffing in extended takes that didn't make it into the movie, and it's therefore a bit of a shame that none of this footage is included on the Blu-ray. Even though this isn't the most informative commentary track of all time, it's one of the most enjoyable and affable tracks in recent memory. If you're a fan of the movie, this is an essential listen.
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† † Supplemental material is the same worldwide. Buy local.
††† 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 1080p transfer is close to reference-quality, with strong colours and pleasing textures from top to bottom. The lossless 7.1 audio track is still serviceable, but is visibly held back by unfortunate compression - I expected better. Nevertheless, with the pleasing selection of extras and the terrific video presentation, this disc earns an easy recommendation. Buy with confidence.
© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
|DVD||LG UP970 4K UHD HDR Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output|
This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.
This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
|Amplification||Samsung Series 7 HT-J7750W|
|Speakers||Samsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up|