There are some people out there, it seems, who have a problem with Thor: Ragnarok. They find its camp style and brazen quest for often quite broad humor inconsistent with the tone of either Thor’s comic book character or the Marvel Universe generally.
To some extent, these are absolutely fair criticisms. Unfortunately, though, they all miss the rather important point that Thor: Ragnarok delivers more sheer entertainment and flat-out fun than arguably any other Marvel film to date.
The tongue in cheek tone is set right from the off in a hilarious opening scene where Thor trades barbs (amid the spins of the chains he’s hanging from) with fire demon Surtur. But the humor just ramps up and up from there, delivering line after line of laugh out loud gags all delivered immaculately by an endlessly game cast. Especially a scene-stealing Jeff Goldblum.
The film backs up its sharp script with an endless riot of colorful, imaginative visuals, sight gags and skillfully constructed action set pieces. All while simultaneously poking fun at but also evolving the relationships between many of the Marvel world’s key characters.
So yes, I get that Thor: Ragnarok might not be serious enough for some. But I for one wouldn’t change a single frame. It’s a blast from start to finish, and any film that can successfully deliver that surely deserves a place in any film ‘canon’.
Studio: Disney/Marvel Studios
What you get: The 4K Blu-ray and the (REGION A/B/C) HD Blu-ray.
Extra features: Director’s commentary; five making of/background featurettes, five deleted/extended scenes; a gag reel; a Team Darryl joke documentary; two 8-bit video graphic renders of key action scenes; short ‘recap’ on the Marvel movie story so far.
Best soundtrack option: Dolby Atmos 7.1.4
Key kit used for this test: Samsung UE65KS9500 TV, Oppo 203 4K Blu-ray player, Panasonic UB900 4K Blu-ray player
Thor: Ragnarok’s journey to 4K Blu-ray is a slightly frustrating one. For having been captured at least in part at ARRIRAW 6.5k, the film was ultimately squished down to a 2K digital intermediate for its cinematic release. Presumably to ‘accommodate’ its relatively extreme amounts of sub-4K digital special effects work.
An upscaled version of the 2K DI is the root of this 4K Blu-ray release, and it’s presumably at least partly because of this that the 4K image only offers a solid rather than spectacular detail upgrade over the (impressive) HD Blu-ray version.
To be clear, there is enough of a boost in clarity and textures – especially with relatively close up shots – to leave you in little doubt that you’re watching a 4K transfer. But it’s not consistently a night and day resolution boost of the sort you get with the likes of Blade Runner 2049, Sully or X-Men: Apocalypse.
In fact, some of the largest effects shots, such as those showing Asgard from a distance, really do struggle to look more than HD.
There is an upside to this, though, in that at least the sub-4K special effects don’t stand out like a soft, blurry sore thumb against the extreme sharpness of the ‘live’ footage, as tends to happen in X-Men: Apocalypse. Despite the Thor: Ragnaroktransfer not falling back on the common trick of trying to hide the special effects ‘joins’ with a layer of grain.
The Thor: Ragnarok 4K BD transfer makes more of a mark with its use of HDR and wide color. In keeping with its gleefully OTT tone, its visuals are consistently up there with Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 in their dazzling brightness and riotous colors.
The richly painted halls of Asgard, the lush greens of a Norwegian meadow, the pulsing colors of the rainbow bridge, the gaudy interiors of Sakaar, the Grandmaster’s high-camp costume… hell, even Sakaar’s vast piles of trash all manage to look explosively vibrant and dynamic on the 4K BD. This enables it to give full rein to the film’s comic-referencing and light-hearted style in a way the SDR HD Blu-ray never can.
Every now and then the picture’s brightness looks as if it’s been dialed up just a touch too much, leaving some colors – especially skin tones – looking a touch bleached out.
There were times, too, when I couldn’t help but think that a particularly complex shot – such as those amid Sakaar’s trash piles – would likely have benefited from the provision of a Dolby Vision master alongside the HDR10 one that’s, unfortunately, all we get (even though the film did receive a Dolby Vision grade for its cinematic release).
Wrapping things up on an appropriately positive note, though, it’s good to find that while the addition of extra brightness in the lightest areas of the picture occasionally stretches into marginally uncomfortable territory, dark scenes retain convincingly deep blacks while also benefiting from a little more subtle detail and color toning than you get with the HD Blu-ray.
Although it has its moments, the 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos soundtrack delivered exclusively on the 4K Blu-ray version of Thor: Ragnarok is surprisingly lackluster overall. It just doesn’t deliver the dynamic range, detail or scale you’d hope for from such a colossal film.