Thor is starring in his third stand-alone film called ‘Thor: Ragnarok‘ and brings a much needed change to the character in the best possibly way. Thor now has a fun personality and great comedic timing, mostly due to Chris Hemsworth amazing acting chops here. In addition to that, the film is steeped in a hypnotic, yet hyper-active color scheme that looks like Willy Wonka and Andy Warhol got together and decorated a city. In fact, Wonka’s theme ‘Pure Imagination’ is a song that plays in the film. It’s not all cold and stiff dialogue here anymore with brown or earth toned aliens and robots that Thor has to use his hammer to fight. Everyone and everything is covered in bright primary and pastel colors that creates a breath of fresh air in this stale universe. That’s all thanks to filmmaker Taika Waititi for giving his unique vision on this big budget film ($180 million). In previous Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, particularly with Thor, things have been sour and gloomy.
Even the last film was ‘Thor: The Dark World‘, and while it had it’s good moment, it left Hemsworth and his fantastic crafted Thor character something less to be desired, because he was just plain boring. That’s not the case here, nor is it with any of the other character or even villains, as everyone is brightly colored and has a sarcastic side to them. It really gives an extra tone in how relatable everyone is now, much like how James Gunn has made a talking tree, a rotten raccoon, and numerous other alien-monsters so funny and engaging. The same can be said for ‘Thor: Ragnarok‘, which is basically the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy‘ feel with Thor and Hulk. Two years have past since the events of Ultron in ‘Avengers 2’ and Thor is out beating the bad guys on different planets still.
Once he heads home after a wonderful and hilarious encounter with another Avenger, he learns that his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is not on Asgard anymore, but Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is up to some hedonistic mischief in his stead. The two brothers track down their father, which he tells them that they have a sister named Hela (Cate Blanchett), who is the Goddess of Death and she’s pissed off that she hasn’t been invited to any of the family dinners in a long time. Hela is super powerful and leaves Loki and Thor abandoned on a colorful, yet trash filled ‘Wall-E’ type of planet, run by Jeff Goldblum in full Jeff Goldblum mode who is known as the ‘Grandmaster’, but looking like an elite member of society from ‘The Hunger Games‘.
In fact, The Grandmaster is a deejay and also heads up a Gladiator style tournament where people can bet on who will kill the other opponent. Soon, Thor is thrown in there and he sees his old pal Hulk in a funny, but all too short smackdown. After their fight, Thor has to talk sense into Hulk and a mysterious woman named Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) to help Asgard out in their time of need. The action sequences are mostly good, but all feel too heavy handed in the CGI department, which made most of it look too cartoony, without any soul or heart to it. That is until the final battle, which finally found it’s footing almost two hours into the film.
In the first half of the movie, it’s business as usual with nothing really great or mighty happening. It’s stuff you’ve seen before, but Waititi waits till the final act to show off the emotion that translates into character development and the fight choreography. It just seems more natural there. The best moments of the film is the sibling relationship between Loki and Thor. Waititi really showed them as two brothers who both love and hate each other. The stories they both tell their new friends along the way of growing up made me laugh out loud and really connected me to these characters. We also get to see the somewhat funny side of Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and see Hulk have some fun too and talk quite a bit as the actual big green guy.
As for Hela/Cate Blanchett, well – Blanchett is an amazing actress, but this character Hela is just the same old story we’ve seen a thousand times and is completely one note, besides her similar sarcastic lines throughout the film. Mark Mothersbaugh was in charge of the music, which stood out for me, more so than any other Marvel movie to date. Damn good job here, along with Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song used throughout the movie. The pacing is could have been fixed a little bit in the first act, but we did get some great new characters and the return of one excellent Asgardian who had some short, but good moments in the film. ‘Thor: Ragnarok‘ made Thor fun again. Thank you.
The Video: ‘Thor: Ragnarok‘ comes with a fantastic 4K UHD presentation with HDR10 and is presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio. There is no Dolby Vision yet here. We will have to wait till ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi‘ for that. Still, this video presentation is incredible, considering the many bright colors used throughout the film. Colors are extremely bright and vibrant, which is something that we don’t usually see in Marvel films. In fact, this film is steeped in a beautifully colorful world where it actually plays a character in the film.
The bright pastel and rainbow like colors look exquisite in each frame with the HDR10 enhancing each shade of color no matter what the lighting situation is. Just take a look at the Grandmaster’s DJ room and even his outfit. It’s just magical to see the bright colors everywhere. Meanwhile, there is a strong orange and green presence throughout the film as a couple of the main villains have these colors ingrained in their DNA and it just lights up the screen at all times. The green on Hulk as well as the war paint on Thor looks excellent with varying degrees of shading. Detail is also top notch here with every bit of nuanced detail showing up easily and nicely, even in the heavier CGI scenes.
You’ll be able to see every muscular bulge and skin line and pore on Hulks body, which is full CGI. In addition to that, Thor’s facial hair and five’o clock shadow reveals individual hairs easily. The intimate stitching on the whacky costumes are great as well as wounds, cuts, scrapes, and other various CGI monsters. Wider shots never go soft either, leaving a very rich and vivid detailed image. Black levels are very deep and inky and the skin tones are natural. There were no issues with any banding, aliasing, or video noise to speak of, leaving this video presentation with great marks.
The Audio: This release comes with an incredible Dolby Atmos track, which is the option you should go with for sure. Sound effects are deep, loud, and robust on all fronts when they are being used. There are some fight scenes where music over takes the soundscape, which is fun to listen to when it’s Led Zeppelin, but you won’t hear the clanks of the swords or normal fight sounds. When they do sound off though, they are quite amazing with a good low end that packs the intended power when someone gets hit by Thor and his hammer.
The height speakers add some excellent dynamics to fully immerse you into this entertaining world. The battle between Thor and Hulk is one that stands out nicely as the roar of the packed crowd can be heard as well as debris and Hulk falling from the sky. Other major action sequences have this effect too, but only when the score doesn’t over take it. The bass kicks in loudly, but never into rocky territory and the dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow along with, and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, and shrills.
Audio Commentary – Director Taika Waititi gives one of the best and most entertaining commentary tracks in recent memory. He is so witty, charming, and damn funny, as well as informative as he gives us some details on making the film, the story, the new look, and some fun anecdotes. Highly recommended commentary track for sure.
Director Intro (HD, 2 Mins.) – Taika Waititi intros the film, discusses the influences and why he got into movies. It’s damn funny.
Getting In Touch with your Inner Thor (HD, 7 Mins.) – This focuses on the history of Thor, the tone, and Hemsworth’s performance as the superhero.
Unstoppable Women: Hela and Valkyrie (HD, 6 Mins.) – Bate Blanchett and Tessa Thompson’s characters are discussed in detail here as are the performances by the actors.
Finding Korg (HD, 8 Mins.) – Waititi is back here talking about his career as a director and working on Thor, as well as playing one of the funnier roles in the movie.
Sakaar: On the Edge of the Known and Unknown (HD, 9 Mins.) – The cast and crew talk about the new and colorful planet most of the film takes place on.
Journey Into Mystery (HD, 6 Mins.) – Jack Kirby gets a shoutout here as others discuss how this fits into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and its many influences and style.
Gag Reel (HD, 3 Mins.) – Some funny missed cues, laughter, flubbed lines and surprise cameos.
Team Darryl (HD, 6 Mins.) – When Thor leaves, The Grandmaster comes in as Darryl’s new roommate, which is all sorts of funny.
Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years: The Evolution of Heroes (HD, 6 Mins.) – This is a discussion about the major superheroes and their upcoming teamwork for Infinity War.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 6 Mins.) – More like extended scenes, all of which are great.
8-Bit Sequences (HD, 3 Mins.) – A couple of scenes that are storyboarded in an animated 8-Bit style.
THE ULTIMATE WORD
‘Thor: Ragnarok‘ is a damn good Marvel film and is very different in terms of looks and humor than the previous movies that came before it. Luckily and fortunately for all of us, it worked perfectly and we got the Thor we always wanted. Chris Hemsworth is excellent and has great comedic timing. He can make us laugh, but then in a split second, he can make us believe he is the badass God of Thunder, capable of destroying an army. Jeff Goldblum and the relationship between Thor and Loki are magnificent. The HDR10 looks exquisite while the Dolby Atmos is fantastic. All of the extras here are worth your time and quite funny and informative. MUST-OWN!