As a fan of the Marvel comic universe, I’ve really been looking forward to Thor Ragnarok. However, I was unable to verify that it would be released in Dolby Vision high dynamic range and Atmos immersive sound. It’s not on the list of such movies on the Dolby website, and no one at Dolby could tell me, which is very strange. Still, it was scheduled to open in my local Dolby Cinema, and other recent Marvel movies were presented in Dolby Vision and Atmos, so I bought a ticket and took my chances.
The story has some basis in actual Norse mythology. Ragnarok (“Twilight of the Gods”) is described in 13th-century texts as a great battle in which many of the gods, including Odin, Thor, and Loki, are destroyed. It’s also the theme of Richard Wagner’s opera Götterdämmerung, which is German for Ragnarok.
In the movie, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) discovers that he has an older sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death. (In real Norse mythology, she is Loki’s daughter Hel, whom Odin appoints to rule over the realm of the dead, also called Hel, which is where the word “hell” comes from.) After escaping a long imprisonment, Hela is determined to bring about Ragnarok and conquer the cosmos.
Hela is so powerful, she destroys Thor’s hammer and sends him and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to the garbage-dump planet of Sarkaar. There, Thor is captured by a mysterious, drunken warrior woman (Tessa Thompson) and forced into gladiatorial combat with the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) by the silly Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). Meanwhile, Hela takes the throne of Asgard and conscripts Skurge (Karl Urban), one of the guardians of the Bifrost—the mechanism that allows travel between the realms—to execute anyone who opposes her.
Aside from Thor and Loki, there are several other familiar faces in Thor Ragnarok. The disgraced Bifrost guardian Heimdall (Idris Elba) hides the people of Asgard from Hela, and Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) helps Thor and Loki find their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Then there’s the play in Asgard that depicts the “death” of Loki, in which the actors portraying Thor, Odin, and Loki are well known to most moviegoers. Can you identify them under all that makeup? And of course, Thor co-creator Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance, this time as a doddering barber.
Thor Ragnarok is rollicking great fun and often hilarious. And it’s a bit deeper than many superficial superhero movies, with shifting loyalties and uncertain outcomes. I especially appreciated the theme that “Asgard is not a place, it’s a people,” emphasizing the importance of community over land.
Even though I didn’t know for sure going in, the movie was obviously graded in Dolby Vision HDR for presentation in Dolby Cinemas, and it is exquisite, some of the best I’ve seen. The colors are riotous, especially traveling through the Bifrost, and explosions are super-bright. There aren’t that many dark scenes, but they are impressively dark with great shadow detail. And as expected, the black interstitials—moments of full-screen black between scenes—are truly black. Overall, the image is a real joy to behold.
Likewise, the Dolby Atmos soundtrack is spectacular. It takes full advantage of the entire hemispherical soundfield, with lots of things flying all around the room. Also, the outstanding score by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh extends way into the theater, fully engulfing the audience. The Atmos remix of Led Zepplin’s “Immigrant Song” is especially wonderful.
Happily, the levels weren’t too high. Leq (average RMS level over the entire length of the movie plus trailers) = 94.3 dBZ (flat), 82.6 dBA, 92.8 dBC; Lmax (maximum 1-second RMS level) = 118.7 dBZ; L10 (level exceeded 10% of the time) = 97.0 dBZ; L50 (level exceeded 50% of the time) = 82.7 dBZ. I only felt the need to put my fingers in my ears a couple of times.
Thor Ragnarok is a marvelous addition to the Marvel canon. It has tons of humor, lots of great action, a star-studded cast, and even some depth that goes beyond the typical superhero movie. Plus, it’s absolutely gorgeous in Dolby Vision HDR and Atmos immersive sound. If you find yourself near a Dolby Cinema—for a list of locations, click here—you owe it to yourself to see it there. Unless there’s something wrong with the system in a particular theater, I bet you won’t be disappointed.
One more thing: Be sure to stay to the end of the credits for a nice little treat.
Check out the trailer for Thor Ragnarok: