4K Blu-ray Reviews

‘Thor: Ragnarok’ 4K UHD Blu-ray Review

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Quick Take: Marvel aims for laughs with Thor: Ragnarok and in that sense this sequel delivers. The 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation isn't the format's best, yet easily exceeds the Blu-ray.

Thor: Ragnarok feels like the byproduct of lifting all best bits from the first two Thor films and multiplying them out over the course of a second sequel. It’s an apology for the drab Thor: The Dark World, and an admission that Thor as a character is the ultimate fish-out-of-water comedic treasure trove.

Whenever I think back to the original Thor, I recall the bit in an old diner where the God of Thunder slams an empty mug on the table and demands, with the tongue of pure royalty, “I’ll have another!” Chris Hemsworth brings a charm to the character that Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi grabbed onto and ran with. It’s hard to pinpoint one memorable comedic scene because there are so many of them.

On the other hand, a story about Thor being imprisoned on a lush trash world and having to battle Hulk/Bruce Banner in a gladiator arena could have gone extremely dark like in the Planet Hulk comics that served as partial inspiration. Waititi even makes life-or-death stakes somewhat light to completely shed the shadow of playing within a “Dark World” sandbox.

A part of me did cringe a couple times when the fate of a world was at stakes and wisecracks fired off. The characters relaying them such as Tessa Thompson as the steadfast Valkyrie, Tom Hiddleston as in-it-for-himself Loki, Mark Ruffalo as a much more verbal Hulk, and especially national treasure Jeff Goldblum as The Grandmaster are so damn likable and well-played to overcome any tonal misjudgments.

Waititi played close attention to legendary comic book writer and artist Jack Kirby when visualizing and executing the worlds of Thor: Ragnarok. Planet Sakaar, which The Grandmaster rules over with extreme flair and disregard for life, is so bursting with colors that I expected the 4K Ultra HD presentation with HDR to blow my eyeballs out with color saturation.

Instead the colors and clarity are a definite improvement over the Blu-ray when doing scene comparisons, but fall short of the formats top-tier titles where colors are concerned. This may have been more of an artistic choice than a transfer choice, and even so the film is a detailed delight from beginning to end.

A similar and more noticeable blemish crops up on the 7.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track. The low frequency effects lack the punch I would expect from a Marvel film, especially when Hulk and Thor battle, and during the final act full of explosions and other battles.

Everything else about the soundtrack is spot-on. Important dialogue to not miss the jokes never drowns out in the front-heavy presentation, and surrounds kicked on when called upon. Most importantly the 80s-centric soundtrack and eletronica score perfectly drags you into the retro Jack Kirby-inspired visuals.

There are no shortage of bonus features on the Thor: Ragnarok 4K UHD Blu-ray; as in the Blu-ray Disc and not the 4K disc. You’ll need to jump from 4K to Blu-ray in order to delve into the extras.

Once you do there’s plenty of entertainment befitting a highly entertaining film. The gag reel is a hoot, and six minutes of deleted/extended scenes deliver even more laughs. The director’s commentary offers a glimpse into the man that brought this film to life.

Elsewhere there are numerous behind-the-scenes looks. I was hoping comedic gem Korg would get some love and sure enough, he’s got his own featurette. We’ve seen the Team Daryl short already due to its early online release so there’s a bit of a buzz kill there.

Here’s a breakdown of all the bonus features:

  • 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

Don’t let the disappointment of Thor: The Dark World keep you away from Thor: Ragnarok. The film is lighthearted and enjoyable, the UHD super-detailed and colorful enough, and the bonus features will keep you busy for hours.

Yet another worthy entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been delivered. I’ll have another!

Shop for Thor: Ragnarok on 4K UHD Blu-ray, Blu-ray and Digital combo at Amazon.

Thor: Ragnarok 4K Blu-ray Cover Art

SCORE: 4.6 out of 5

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