Ahhh, the MCU (that’s Marvel Cinematic Universe in case you’ve spent the last decade in a cave), is still alive and well. We’re in Phase Three now and if you need a refresher what that is, check it out. Our three established stars of the Avengers: Captain America, Iron Man and Thor now each have a trio of movies under their respective belts. And if you’re wondering where Thor and the Hulk were in Captain America: Civil War, well the events of Thor: Ragnarok take place about the same time as that film. So now you know. Of course, most of what’s happened in the MCU films are setting up for the big showdown with Thanos and his exhaustive search for the Infinity Stones; you know, those things that give anyone who possess them absolute power? This film takes a bit of liberty with that timeline, while also setting the stage with some pretty significant events in the MCU. And, in an effort to give the Thor films a bit of an edge, we’ve got Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) who takes a nod from the smart-ass humor of Guardians of the Galaxy.
We meet Thor (Chris Hemsworth) as he’s trying to prevent the end of the world by slaying Surtur. He then returns home to Asgard to re-secure the throne from his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who had conveniently taken the form of Odin (Anthony Hopkins). The duo then set off to Midgard (Earth) to find ‘ol one eye, but with the appearance of Hela (Cate Blanchett), that all changes. Thor is then somehow sent across the universe to compete in a tournament of sorts where he meets up with, you guessed it, Hulk (Mark Ruffalo…sort of). Along the way he encounters a Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) who may or may not be the key to his escape and running the show is the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). To say Thor has some familial issues is an understatement, but he has to survive the experience first. This begs the question: can he?
Well of course he can.
I’ll come right out and say it, Thor: Ragnarok has a different flavor than the previous two films. I think they were a bit too cute at times and tried to make the film more like Guardians of the Galaxy. Put it this way, the tongue-in-cheek factor is off the charts! But it does work. And there’s not a lot in this film or any MCU film that’s arbitrary – it does set the stage for things to come all the while giving us 130 minutes of entertainment. If you’re a fan of Thor from the comics, there are easter eggs galore with references to Beta Ray Bill, Throg (Thor was once turned into a frog in the comics) as well as numerous references to the MCU. It’s all there. There are even a few “blink and you’ll miss them” cameos by some fairly popular entertainers, too. I won’t say who they are or who they play, but it’s fun to spot them. Thor: Ragnarok manages to entertain while remaining a crucial film to the MCU. What more can you ask for?
Video: How’s it look?
There’s very little to complain about with this 4K offering, one of the few from the MCU. Given that the majority of the movie is CGI, there’s a lot of background and depth to take in. Thankfully the image never really suffers in the least and the 2.39:1 HEVC 4K image is fitting for a film starring the God of Thunder (or Lord of Thunder as the movie likes to say). Color spectrum is represented, contrast is strong, detail is tack sharp. Thor’s eyes glow, lightning comes out of his hand and it loos great with the HDR every step of the way. I doubt many will find anything to complain about here – this delivers.
Audio: How’s it sound?
If you can’t tell by the poster or the cover art, there’s a palpable 80’s vibe going on here and it’s represented in full by the soundtrack. Synthesizers abound and Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” serves as an anthem throughout and it works. Yes, it just works. Vocals are clear, rich and crisp and there’s no shortage of action to keep the Dolby Atmos soundtrack on its proverbial toes. Surrounds are used often and with good effect, the LFE do their part and it all adds up to one helluva ride.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Director’s Introduction – Taika Waititi gives us a brief introduction and we can clearly see why he was chosen for the role.
Deleted/Extended Scenes – A trio of each. Deleted
The Sorcerer Supreme
Skurge Finds Heimdall
Hulk Chases Thor Through Sakaar
Thor Meets the Grandmaster
Stupid Avenger vs. Tiny Avenger
Grandmaster and Topaz
Gag Reel – Shenanigans on the set – Thor style!
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 Simpnson and Jack Kirby.
8bit Scenes – Final Bridge Battle + Sakaar Spaceship Battle. Dive into these climactic sequences presented in retro video-game format.
Audio Commentary – I like this guy. Director Taika Waititi gives us a pretty insightful and informative track that’s funny (especially in his New Zealand tongue) yet true to the film. Fans of the film and his style of humor will certainly enjoy it.
The Bottom Line
It’s a different vibe from the first two films and, yes, Thor’s hair keeps getting shorter in each installment. I have no idea why. This one features a bit more humor, but manages to pull it off in a way that’s both entertaining and exciting. The disc looks and sounds nothing short of amazing and with enough supplements thrown in – it’s a welcome addition to your MCU Blu-ray/4K collection.