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THOR: RAGNAROK
4K Ultra HD Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins
Director: Taika Waititi
Audio: Dolby Atmos 7.1.4, DTS HD 7.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Marvel/Disney
Features: See Review
Length: 130 Minutes
Release Date: March 6, 2018

Thor, son of Odin.”

Surtur, son of...a bitch! You’re still alive!”

Film ***1/2

I find myself in a weird place, as of late. I am one of those who feels that we are seriously becoming over-saturated with comic book movies...and yet, here I am adoring the latest release from Marvel. I guess life is stupid like that sometimes.

But Thor: Ragnarok is truly a breath of fresh air, even in a genre that is over-spreading itself. Even though this is a movie that serves as yet another connector between other movies in the Marvel universe, this is one that provides it’s own weird little environment. And I use the term “weird” in a most positive way, because this is one movie whose strengths come from its sheer weirdness.

I wasn’t entirely too crazy with the first two Thor movies. The first one was serviceable enough as an introduction to the character, but nothing more. The second one, Thor: The Dark World, was a meaningless rehash of the first movie and serves as one of the worst Marvel movies to date (yes, folks, they do exist).

This third entry, though, does for the son of Odin what Captain America: The Winter Soldier did for its lead character, in that it takes an already established hero and retools him in a much better finely tuned world and story. As a result, you end up appreciating the character a whole lot more and realize this is how they should have been introduced to us in the first place.

Following his defeating of the hellish demon, Surtur, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns to Asgard only to discover that his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), is missing with duplicitous brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), disguising himself as Odin until ultimately revealed. In traveling to Earth, where Odin was believed to have been, Thor learns that he his dying. Not only that, but as Odin is slowly dying, rising to great power is the devilish sister he never knew he had.

She is Hela (played by a sexily vampish Cate Blanchett), who does indeed make her presence known by stripping Thor of his hammer. After she defeats him, he finds himself banished to a planet known as Sakaar, a visceral dumping site of a universe that is run by the fiendishly sly and odd Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum, naturally). Gladiator fights are the driving force of Sakaar and, because of this, a certain green monster who you may know has become something of a celebrity on the planet.

Thor is now forced to, in addition to getting his lengthy hair chopped off, partake in such a arena battle. As a result, he is reunited with Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who we learn hasn’t been in the form of Bruce Banner for quite some time and fears that if turned again, Banner might be gone for good. The two hatch a plan to elude Sakaar and prevent Hela from taking over Asgard, along with the help of a rogue warrior in the form of the supremely bad ass Valkyrie (played winningly by the incredibly fetching Tessa Thompson).

Directed with an extravagant amount of glee by Taika Waititi, best known for his acclaimed vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows, this is a grand mixture of phenomenal action and, again, zany brilliance. It isn’t afraid to make Thor look like an absolute buffoon, which happens on several occasions including a moment when he’s trying to make the traditional inspirational heroic speech. And the action beats are probably the best to be displayed in any of the Marvel movies to date, including a couple appropriately backed up by the sounds of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”.

By going outside the box and avoiding the tropes of the tired superhero formula, Thor: Ragnarok establishes itself as one of the very best Marvel movies to date. The pure zany quality of which this movie exudes is one of a kind. That combined with the many awesome thrills make for quite a unique ride of a movie!

Video ****

This entire world is alive with immense color and depth. Those elements are brought to extreme, vivid life by way of this flooring 4K Ultra HD presentation from Marvel/Disney. Right from the opening confrontation with Surtur, the colors pop off the screen in a mesmerizing fashion. And you’re in for even a bigger treat when you see both Asgard and, especially, Sakaar in all their colorful glory. There’s a pure visual delight in every frame that this presentation doesn’t skimp on in the slightest. Even the details in the costumes are exquisitely rich and amazing, especially that of Ms. Blanchett’s! A reference quality 4K Ultra HD release, if there ever was one!

Audio ****

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a movie with Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 mix, but that added kick is certainly felt is this mind blowing sounding presentation. Every inch of sound associated with this crazy environment can be heard fluently, right down to Thor dangling in his prison chains in the opening sequence. And don’t even get me started on the scenes where “Immigrant Song” blasts through the channels, which produce some of the best moments of audio I’ve ever experienced! The entire movie has got so much to work with, from crowd noise during the arena fights to laser blasts courtesy of Valkyrie’s awesome weaponry. Dialogue delivery and music playback are terrific and balance out extremely well, making for a grand piece of HD audio.

Features ***1/2

Some nifty extras on this Marvel/Disney release, all of which can be found on the standard Blu-ray disc. Among them are a quite funny intro from director Taika Waititi, as well as a commentary from him which is humor filled just like the movie itself. Next up is a good number of featurettes including “Getting In Touch With Your Inner Thor", which delves into the evolution of the character, as well as “Unstoppable Women: Hela & Valkyrie” looks at the awesome new female characters brought to life by Cate Blanchett and Tessa Thompson. Next up is “Finding Korg", a glance at a new supporting character played by the director himself, followed by “Sakaar: On the Edge of the Known and Unknown”, which looks at this wholly new universe setting, and “Journey Into Mystery”, where we discover the movie’s place in the Marvel time line. We also have a Gag Reel, a random but funny short titled “Team Darryl",

Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years - The Evolution of Heroes”, which chronicles the path of the Marvel characters since the first Iron Man, five minutes worth of Deleted Scenes and “8-Bit Sequences” amusingly re-enacting two key action sequences from the movie.

Summary:

Thor: Ragnarok is a flat out fun and zany blast. It will definitely satisfy comic book fans, while at the same time gain appreciation from those like me who are wanting a more different approach than what the basic superhero movie tends to offer. The 4K Ultra HD release is unquestionably a must own!

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