Thor: Ragnarok Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Thor: Ragnarok continues the big-screen adventures of the Asgardian God of Thunder, as he finds himself imprisoned on the other side of the universe and in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok, the destruction of his homeworld.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

92

Details:

Studio and Year: Disney/Marvel – 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 130 minutes
Genre: Action/Fantasy

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos7.1.4/TrueHD 7.1, English/Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, 1080p Blu-ray: DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Mark Ruffalo, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban
Directed by: Taika Waititi
Music by: Mark Mothersbaugh
Written by: Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, Christopher L. Yost
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: March 6, 2018

“Let the Games Begin”

My Take:

Thor: Ragnarok finds Thor (Chris Hemsworth) imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer, and 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).

I grew up reading Marvel Comics and Thor was my first superhero favorite. This came from reading about his exploits with The Avengers and sporadic episodes of his own comic. I initially tried to keep up with his extended battles/adventures that took place away from Earth, but eventually lost interest. He remained a personal favorite though, and I have enjoyed his transition to the big screen. I am pretty certain that I have seen all of the MCU films in the theater, and Thor: Ragnarok was no exception. I heard mixed reviews from those that had seen it, some loved it, others thought it was overly silly, infusing too much humor. My wife isn’t much into these types of movies, but agreed to check it out with me.

I found the plot, surrounding Hela’s threat, to be decent enough to serve as a foundation for the storyline. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough meat on that bone to drive its thematic impact. Hela felt like more of an ancillary character, while the primary focus of the film revolved around Thor’s banishing to the Grand Master’s planet, his playful interaction with Hulk, and the typically contentious back and forth with Loki. By the time they return to Asgard to contend with Hela, it’s about 90 minutes into the film, and the outcome feels rushed. In between are a series of misadventures, one or two key elements, and a host or characters, that truly add anything of substance to the underlying context surrounding Thor.

It certainly sounds like I didn’t much care for Thor: Ragnarok, and that is true in part, but, if I am being honest, I did find it entertaining at times. I did feel that the levity/humor was heavy handed, especially, with Thor constantly delivering the winks, nods, and one liners. It was a bit much, stretching the seams of a character that wasn’t much for chuckles in the comics. However, some of it is pretty funny, and certainly, in keeping within the spirit of MCU’s shaping of humor in many of their films. The production elements are top notch, and carry the proceedings quite effectively. Chris Hemsworth continues to do a nice job in the title role, and the return of Thor’s various characters played by Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, and Idris Elba, as well as new ones played by the scene stealing Cate Blanchett, Karl Urban, and Tessa Thompson handled their respective duties just fine. There are also a host of cameos, including Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange, but frankly, none add much to the proceedings.

Thor: Ragnarok, like the other recent MCU releases, marches onward toward the coming conflagration “Infinity War”. It’s not among my favorites, but, after revisiting it, I have decided that it has enough going for it that I don’t mind giving it a place in my collection.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive material.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color:
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

 

Thor: Ragnarok comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Disney featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless that has an average bitrate of 68 Mbps, and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound that has an average bitrate of 5.3 Mbps.

For its presentation in Ultra HD Thor: Ragnarok was rendered from 4K/6.5K sources and finished on a 2K DI. Thor: Ragnarok is a fantasy/action-based film that is essentially boldly colorful throughout, and this Ultra HD rendering makes the most of its elements. With a noticeable increase in detail and enriched chromatic highlights, the image appears sharper and vibrant when compared to the 1080p version, which is excellent in its own right. Primary colors are pleasingly vivid, while whites appear crisp and gradational. The spectrum of secondary colors is beautifully rendered. Thor’s return to Asgard after the opening sequence provides a glimpse of what it to come, but it’s the arrival on the Grand Master’s planet that shows off the presentation’s wide color gamut. The combination of rich color, sepia, and gradational gray tones look stunning.

I also enjoyed the implementation of HDR. Primarily speaking this isn’t an overtly bright film. The added dimension in blacks, and shadows during the low-level scenes, such as those that take place in Surtur’s realm, the thrown room, or in the Asgardian Keep, where Heimdall hides the people from Hela, is immediately noticeable. The cinematography makes use of shadows, streaming light and a mix of light/dark elements. It’s application here is used very well, drawing upon HDR’s ability to create stark contrast between the two. In the aforementioned sequences, the blend of shadow detail/depth of field offset by the presence of light at varying levels, looked very natural.

The film has a variety of sequences that make use of close up camera angles that show off the superb rendering of detail. At times, the level of minutia is excellent, as even the finest nuance in the physical features, costumes and interior sets is resolvable. The exterior shots, and CGI featured in the film have superb depth which adds an enriching, and eye-catching aesthetic to them.

The difference between viewing Thor: Ragnarok in high definition and Ultra HD isn’t eye opening, but there is no question that it benefitted from the increase in resolution, emboldened color and high dynamic range treatment. I thought that this presentation faithfully mimicked the theatrical experience.

Thor: Ragnarok has a very solid 7.1 channel surround mix on Blu-ray, so I wondered if the immersive experience would truly improve upon it. In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the moderately active variety that made steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a mix atmospherics and discrete effects. This is done well, and creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events. During the extended chase/escape sequence in chapter 13, followed by the arrival/battle on Asgard, the mix generates a noticeable improvement in dimension and depth of field. Audio object placement, from both above, and in the ear level listening plane are put to effective use. The various sounds and atmospherics, in small and large spaces, feel more realistic in terms of their acoustics and size.

The music score is mixed throughout the soundfield adding a notable boost in presence. In comparison, the 7.1 channel mix in noticeably enveloping, but the Atmos mix raises it a notch.

** It should be noted that during the opening sequence in Surtur’s lair, the track appeared to suffer from compressed dynamic range. I checked to see if the DRC circuitry in my A/V processor had been activated/engaged and it had been. I couldn’t say with absolute certainty that something embedded in the Dolby bitstream caused this as I wasn’t able to replicate it. Playing back the same sequence yielded an improvement, but, even so, that particular scene is noticeably lacking in dynamism.

I also noticed this during parts of Thor’s battle with Hulk in the arena. When the two of them run at each other in their final salvo, there is a large release of energy, that just doesn’t have the impact you’d expect. However, later, during the escape, beginning in chapter 13, tactility and dynamics improve. This continues throughout the remainder of the presentation. Lastly, I found that I had to play this track back at roughly 8 – 10db above where I normally listen. YMMV. **

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:

 

Audio: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 

 

Thor: Ragnarok comes to Blu-ray Disc from Disney Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 33 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.8 Mbps.

This is an excellent high definition rendering that sports plenty of fine detail and crisp definition that provides discerning dimensional perspective. Colors range from warm and vivid to cool, reserved and almost tonally neutral. This is obviously a creative decision that draws definitive visual boundaries and works quite well. Contrast is strong and blacks are deep without compromise to delineation. Shadowy areas exhibit excellent depth of field and visible gradational stages. I didn’t see any signs of video degrading artifacts or extraneous compression related noise. Thor: Ragnarok looks great on Blu-ray.

The lossless DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack has solid dynamic range, detail rich clarity, and makes ample use of the entire surround platform to drive the film’s elements. The detection of subtle background sounds, off camera cues and spatial dimension within the room’s acoustic environment is excellent. The low frequency effects channel is active as the subwoofer works in tandem with the rest of the system to convey the palpably rich bass and dynamic impact associated with the action-based sequences (see below). Dialog is firmly planted in the center channel and renders voices and effects with appropriate distinction. I enjoyed this audio presentation and thought that it complimented the source material.

** It should be noted that during the opening sequence in Surtur’s lair, the track appeared to suffer from compressed dynamic range. I checked to see if the DRC circuitry in my A/V processor had been activated/engaged and it had been. I couldn’t say with absolute certainty that something embedded in the Dolby bitstream caused this as I wasn’t able to replicate it. Playing back the same sequence yielded an improvement, but, even so, that particular scene is noticeably lacking in dynamism.

I also noticed this during parts of Thor’s battle with Hulk in the arena. When the two of them run at each other in their final salvo, there is a large release of energy, that just doesn’t have the impact you’d expect. However, later, during the escape, beginning in chapter 13, tactility and dynamics improve, providing some solid moments that sound great. This essentially continues throughout the remainder of the presentation. Lastly, I found that I had to play this track back at roughly 8 – 10db above where I normally listen. YMMV. **

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Thor: Ragnarok Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Thor: Ragnarok Blu-ray
    • 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 CommentaryDigital Exclusives:
    • Evolution of Thor and Hulk’s Bromance – We’ll examine 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
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Thor: Ragnarok may be viewed by some as being too much of a divergence from the essence of the character, and that may be true, to a point. However, there is something to be found in its off kilter and sometimes overtly facetious narrative. I took it for, and enjoy it, for what it is, which made the experience fun. It comes to Blu-ray in this Cinematic Universe Edition from Disney featuring top notch Ultra HD video, engaging lossless surround sound, including a solid Dolby Atmos immersive listening experience and a fan friendly supplemental package that looks behind the scenes.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems 


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