Friday, March 16, 2018

Thor: Ragnarok 4K Ultra HD Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
In Marvel Studios’ “Thor: Ragnarok,” Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok – the destruction of his home world and the end of Asgardian civilization – at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela (Cate Blanchett). But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger – the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) – and grapple with his silver-tongued adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the fierce warrior Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and the eccentric Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum).
Film (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Set two years after the battle of Sokovia from The Age of Ultron, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has been on the search for the powerful Infinity Stones. That search hasn't been going well as this film starts off with Thor imprisoned by the fire Demon Surtur who has been prophesied to destroy Asgard once he unites his crown with the Eternal Flame that's protected and locked up in Odin's vault. Feeling chatty and superior, Surtur also informs Thor that Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is no longer in Asgard, which the audience already knew from when Loki (Tom Hiddleston) took his place during the last film. Returning to Asgard, Thor exposes Loki's illusion and forces him to help find their father. They are assisted by Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), who sends them to Norway, to meet their father who is dying. 

Odin tells them that when he dies, his firstborn daughter Hela (Cate Blanchett) will be freed from where he imprisoned her. Years before, Hela had assisted Odin in conquering the Nine Realms but Odin grew wary of her ruthless ambition and sealed her away and removed all mention of her. With that final warning, Odin passes away and Hela immediately arrives and proves that her brothers are no match for her at all. She destroys Thor's hammer Mjolnir without a thought, and Loki's magic is nothing compared to her abilities. The two try to escape her wrath by using the Bifrost Bridge, but Hela follows them and forces them out into space and leaves them to die. 

In a nod to the Planet Hulk story-line, both Thor and Loki crash land on the junk planet of Sakaar, where the main form of entertainment is gladiator games put on for the amusement of the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), who runs the place. While Loki arrived first and was able to weasel his way to the Grandmaster's side, Thor is captured by a woman known as Scrapper 142 (Tessa Thompson) and forced to become a gladiator. His first opponent is his old friend and teammate the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who had taken the Avengers Quinjet (after the events in Age of Ultron) and had ended up at Sakaar where he can finally be the strongest without any repercussions. Knowing that Asgard is in danger, Thor plans to escape Sakaar and tries to enlist Hulk and Scrapper 142 (who has hidden ties to Asgard) to help him confront Hela and stop her before Ragnarok happens. 

Thor: Ragnarok is easily the best of the trilogy, as it offers the best script, performances, and action of the three Thor movies. It's also very funny and not afraid to change the status quo which is rare and refreshing for the third movie of any series. Chris Hemsworth has always been good as Thor, but this movie really lets him loose and it's a great portrayal. The film is also very good to the character of the Hulk, as it finally let's him do more than destroy things. The interplay between friendly rivals Thor and Hulk is always fun and I'm glad that Mark Ruffalo got more to do in this film. Tom Hiddleston always shines as the unpredictable Loki, and he continues to bring more nuance to his conflicted character. It also goes without saying that Cate Blanchett is fantastic as Hela and she makes for a very formidable villain. Director Taika Waititi really swung for the fences with this one and it paid off and it has reinvigorated this franchise.
Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Both the Blu-ray and the UHD look fantastic on their respective formats, but the UHD version offers the best overall picture quality. Both have vibrant colors on display, but the level of detail in the UHD version really makes it stand out when compared. This is a very colorful film and it looks great in UHD. 
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
Thor: Ragnarok's Dolby Atmos mix is also good but not quite reference quality. It offers plenty of surround activity, especially during the gladiator battle, but it doesn't quite use the Atmos track to its full potential. Dialogue is clear and the music my Mark Mothersbaugh comes through nicely. There were certain scenes where the mix kicked into play like when Thor summons his hammer or when he calls down lightning, but overall this could have been more impressive. It's still a good mix but I expected a little more.  
Extras (3 out of 5 stars)
The extras while funny and entertaining, are all really short which is a real shame that we didn't get more. They are all in high definition and it comes with a 4K digital copy with Dolby Atmos.
  • Audio Commentary - Director Taika Waititi brings his usual manic and funny outlook to this commentary which is a nice change of pace since most of the time these can be pretty dry. This is a lot of fun to listen to and I recommend it. 
  • Director Intro - A fun introduction to the movie from director Taika Waititi.
  • Finding Korg - Taika Waititi  the director and Taika Waititi the actor both gush over each other for his great portrayal of the CGI characters of Korg, which he played while directing the movie. 
  • 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.
  • Getting in Touch with Your Inner Thor - 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.”
  • 8-Bit Sequences - Final Bridge Battle + Sakaar Spaceship Battle. Dive into these climactic sequences presented in retro video-game format.
  • 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.
Digital Exclusives:
  • Thor and Hulk: A Galactic Adventure – An examination of this Super Hero friendship, which has spanned through several Marvel films. From their original Helicarrier fight match to the now iconic Hulk punch from Avengers 1, see how Marvel’s most powerful Super Heroes become the most extraordinary Super Hero buddies.
  • Additional Deleted Scenes – Travel to Asgard & Race To The Wormhole
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
Thor: Ragnarok is a fantastic movie that is a fun ride for the entire family. This UHD set offers excellent video and audio quality and the extras are fun too even if they are a bit on the short side. This is a set that I can easily recommend!

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