THOR: RAGNAROK – Blu-ray/DVD and Digital HD Review by John Strange
I LOVE reviewing films. The films may be excellent or stinkers, it doesn't matter, I still love watching them and telling you my thoughts. But that love is a pale second to reviewing the film when it comes out on Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD. Why? Because I have loved film since I was knee-high to a grasshopper (that's very young to you millennials).
The extras that come with the home release of a film help me see the reasons behind decisions made in the story or how they did an effect or so many other questions you rarely know you had until you see the extra. These extras can be featurettes, deleted scenes, director's commentaries, behind the scenes interviews, and many other categories.
Sometimes these extras bring me insights that change my feelings about the film and sometimes they don't. Thor: Ragnarok falls into the first category. My initial review was a little negative towards the level of humor in the story. I felt that it was a bit over-done.
Thor: Ragnarok is the story of the end of Asgard, in other words Ragnarok. But our friends at Marvel, as shown in their writing for the comics series that inspired this eighteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), never take shortcuts to get to the punch line. And that is why we love them.
The film is also about Thor (Chris Hemsworth) growing into the King he must be for his people all the while reconciling with his chaotic adopted brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Our brothers encounter a number of memorable characters along the way. Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster, the leader of the planet Sakaar, leads his people is a manner that is decidedly off-kilter (totally Goldblum).
Among the people on Sakaar Thor encounters his old buddy, the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), in the gladiatorial arena that the Grandmaster uses to keep the population happy. In the holding pens we meet Korg (voiced by director Taika Waititi) and his pals. Korg is the opening act for the hulk's bouts. Until Thor and the Hulk meet in the ring, our green friend never loses, go figure.
But all of the action, while centered on Thor and his issues, is influenced by Thor's sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett), Odin's first born, once his enforcer, locked away when her desire for conquest could not be toned down. She draws her power from Asgard itself so was she manages to get there, getting her out will be impossible.
From it's opening scene in the pits of Muspelheim where Thor confronts the fire demon Surtur to stop him from having a chance to end Asgard the story winds through worlds both beautiful and ugly. The worlds are an homage to the stories from the comics that inspired them. The cinematography used on this film is excellent. There are some lighting effects that I had never seen done in a movie before (one, a battle involving the Valkeries, was discussed in those extras I love so much).
The story, despite the sometime over-the-top humor (cough, cough, Goldblum), is an important piece in the puzzle that makes up the backstory of the MCU. We need Thor to grow into a full-fledged leader, not just the hero who goes around breaking things to win the day. In this respect, the film does an excellent job. In the final scene of the Thor: Ragnarok , The God of Thunder is a totally different man than the one who deals with Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to find where Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is hiding following the destruction of the place that Loki had stashed him on Earth (Midgard). This is a good thing and a wonderful ending to a film that started out a bit thin.
The extras for this film, both the Blu-ray and Digital HD versions, gave me several hours of interesting information. As usual, I agree that the deleted scenes are good but had no place in the film. The featurettes are good but could have been improved by cutting Taika's opening dialogue out of all but one of them. His description of how to spell his name is something I NEVER want to see again. His sense of humor pervades almost all of the featurettes, sometimes distracting us from enjoying the knowledge we are trying to gain. The 8-bit extras used to plot out a couple of the scenes were interesting in their 80-'s appeal. The gag reel was thin but fun. My favorite extra this time was the overview of the ten years of the creation of the MCU.
Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprising by this point in the review, the director's commentary was TERRIBLE. It was obvious he didn't really want to be doing it. The two-year-old daughter chiming in was the low point in an already painful experience. I sat through all 130 minutes of the commentary hoping beyond hope for something to like but by the end I was yelling at the screen to please send the kid back to her mother and get back to business.
After all of the negativity in the last half of this review I feel the need to say that overall, Taika's attempts at humor notwithstanding, I loved the time I spent watching most of the parts which make up the whole of this Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD experience. I am glad that I was allowed to see the whole package because, as is normally the case, there are extras we get on the disks that are not packaged with the Digital HD experience. Any of the delivery options are good but the multi-screen edition is my suggestion for how to acquire this title. You will be glad you did.
Idris Elba, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Taika Waititi, Clancy Brown, Ray Stevenson, Jeff Goldblum
Extended Scene: Grandmaster and Topaz
Extended Scene: Stupid Avenger vs. Tiny Avenger
Extended Scene: Thor Meets The Grandmaster
Selig Rating Scale:
BRAND NEW: Should add to your DVD collection at any cost
SALE ITEM: Worth owning, but try to catch it a sale
SECOND HAND: Plan to get it, but wait to buy it used
RENTAL: Worth taking a look at, but not owning
COASTER: Pick it up at a garage sale and use it for drinks
PULL!: Makes a great Trap Shooting target