Thor 3D Blu-ray Review
The disc presents a widescreen 2.35:1 1080p 3D transfer and is Region Free.
We have another 2D to 3D convert on our hands here, but with a twist, whilst all principle photography was envisaged and completed in 2D, the stellar effects shots were almost all exclusively envisioned in 3D, thus their conversion looks remarkably good – this means that the entire film has one of the best conversions that I’ve come across so far; it’s still not native 3D but, boy, is it close. The essential problem for all converts is the lack of solidity to the layers promoting the depth; Thor circumvents this in some degree by having its biggest depth shots fully rendered in 3D GCI, thus overhead shots of Asgard, or some of the 3D landscapes used as backdrop show a decent amount of ‘roundness’ and can have perceivable distance between layers. And it can look mighty impressive. The same cannot be said of the 2D converted material, those of the actors themselves, but close attention to framing and a realistic attempt at 3D have even given these scenes a tangible amount of depth. Ok, characters and objects are nowhere near as ‘round’ as they are when filmed natively, but it’s really close, and when juxtaposed to those native GC scenes, helps to further fool the brain, giving in to more ‘depth’ than is actually there – so if you surrender to the visuals the effect is greater than the sum of its parts. Crucially it doesn’t have the ‘false’ sense of depth that so many of these converts have. Attention to detail is also well realised, there are very few ‘point at the screen’ moments, preferring to keep depth into the frame as the norm, this helps by not bringing you out of the picture by gimmicky or poor looking effects shots, and helps with the ‘naturality’ of it all. Thus huge storm whirlwinds in the desert have a tangible roundness set in a distant landscape, or rain gives a sense of depth into the frame. Vehicles look to have a front middle and back; sets show decent fore, middle and back ground, while objects within that set have a good sense of distance – the hammer in the centre of the pit with its surrounding infrastructure is a prime example of this. Where the 3D comes apart is in the dark scenes, of which there are many, though native 3D also struggles due to the lack of reference points, but here it seems to flatten considerably, particularly those converted; those in CG, such as the Frost Giants world, fair a little better, with rock and crevasses, as well as Thor’s calling of the storms, both exhibiting a reasonable amount depth. But I must go on record as saying the set up of the system must be properly calibrated, as without it this picture has the potential to be a dark amorphous blob with little or no definition or depth, particularly in the darker scenes. If, however, everything is as is should be, you will be surprised at how Thor can look in 3D; I was mightily impressed with this conversion.
Other aspects of the picture fair very well; detail is fine and distinct, whether it be the mail of Thor’s armour to the markings on his hammer, or the individual sand grains of the desert sand (in landscape or as dirt on characters clothes) to the intricate nature of Foster’s makeshift lab, or to skin detail and clothing weaves; all are distinct and sharp, holding lines way back into the picture. Curiously, though, some scenes exhibited finer detail than others, as if some had a little DNR applied, so were ‘cleaner’ looking, against the natural looking shots surrounding them; it’s not overtly distracting and I can’t account for why, but I mention it nonetheless.
Colours are bold, striking and rich, showing no wash, bleed or grade. The sun bleached sands and the light blue hues of the desert skies are just as lush as those of the Asgardian throne room, with is epic golden hues.
Brightness and contrast are set to give some deep and impenetrable backs (with the usual 3D caveat) that are at their best on the Frost Giants world, where shadow detail defines the many caverns and hidden beasts within. Those on Earth, such as the night time assault on the SHIELD encampment housing the Hammer, for instance, fair just as well, though the opening ‘storm chase’ is very dark and shows little beyond the black.
Digitally there were no compression problems, edge enhancement or banding issues. Using passive technology I experienced no cross talk, though a few instances of aliasing were visible, though this doesn’t appear to be a transfer fault just a product of my viewing technology.
I'll concentrate on the English dts-HD Master Audio 7.1 track. Wow. If there is one track that can enhance a 3D visual treat then this is it; it's immersive, engaging, heart pounding, loud and above all ‘surrounds’ you. There is never an opportunity lost to give some kind of stereo steerage to the soundscape, from the mighty Hammer calling the thunderstorm swirling with wind and rain around you, to the same hammer smashing its way through rock and Frost Giant on its unstoppable path. It is also subtle with plenty of ambient effects, such as rain, or the chirping of computers in SHIELD’s makeshift camp and traffic and street noise of the town that is wrought so much destruction by the Destroyer in an assault that threatens to bring down your own house such is the ferocity of the sound mix. Bass this deep and low, in fact seldom does it plumb such incredible depths and rivals ‘skadoosh’ at points. But it’s not all blunt force trauma, quieter moments are clean and precise. Dialogue is natural sounding, given a little directionality and never drowned out by any of the mayhem that can be happening on screen. Patrick Doyle’s score is also given full reign of the speakers and is layered with such dexterity that it too is never lost and maintains a prominent feature of the mix. A powerful and absorbing mix that is clearly demo material, top stuff.
- Audio Commentary – Director Kenneth Branagh, regales us with his in-depth knowledge of all things Thor in a non-stop chat track that encompasses everything you could ever want to know about the production, casting, effects, messages, symbolism both anecdotal and technical. There’s two ways to look at this track, as the most informative ever produced or the most yawn inducing sycophantic bore. As yet, I’m undecided.
- Marvel One-Shot: The Consultant (03:57, HD) – in a similar vein as the post-credit sequences that accompany the Marvel films, this one has two SHIELD agents discussing ways to circumnavigate the addition of the Hulk to the Avengers team.
- From Asgard to Earth (19:42, HD) – A short overview feature on the various designs, that being sets and the overall look, and their respective inspirations during the production of the film.
- Our Fearless Leader (03:18, HD) – The cast back slap and gush over Branagh as the director.
- Assembling the Troupe (04:44, HD) – More back slapping this time about the main cast in this short casting feature that stinks of EPK material.
- Hammer Time (06:14, HD) – A more interesting feature that concentrates on the mighty Mjolnir, Thor’s Hammer, where we find out a little bit more about it, its abilities and finalised design. With a bit of history and some comic stills this one is more worthy of your time.
- Creating Laufey (05:33, HD) – Looking at the man and the makeup of the King of the Frost Giants in this short feature reveals just how long it takes to produce such a memorable character, shame so much if it is lost in the darkness of the final film.
- Music of the Gods (02:05, HD) – An unbelievably short piece on the magnificent music created for the film by composer Patrick Doyle; still we get to see him in action and hear a little bit about what makes him tick.
- A Conversation (02:23, HD) – The mighty Stan Lee along with co-producer Craig Kyle and comic writer J. Michael Straczynski discuss Thor in what has to be the biggest disappointment this extras section has to offer; such a wealth of knowledge about this enduring comic character is squandered for a two minute soundbite. Depressing.
- Road to the Avengers (02:57, HD) – Nothing more than a beefed up ad for the up and coming Avengers movie; main cast meet up at ComicCon and we get to see who was who, as if we don’t already remember, me thinks a trailer would have been better ....
- Deleted Scenes (24:34, HD) – Eleven scenes (entitled Thor and Loki Before the Confrontation, Warriors 3 and Sif Turn Over Their Weapons, Thor and Frigga, Rah Rah (Extended), Hospital (Extended), Frigga Confronts Odin, Loki is Made King, Selvig Sings with Thor, Warriors 3 and Sif Arrive (Extended), Darcy's Dog, and Selvig is Saved by Thor) can be watched individually or all together with the play all function, with or without directors commentary. There are a nice few character moments hidden within these but little would have improved the film had they been reinstated for a ‘special’ release. Branagh’s commentary acts more like an introduction than exposition.
- Trailers – The film this time in trailer form.
- 2D Version – The Film this time in its 2D variant.
- DVD & Digital copy – The film this time in DVD and Digital copy form.
So there you have it, what, at first glance, appears a pretty decent amount of extra material, is actually rather slim. It should be noted that there are no extras on the 3D disc, everything above is housed on the 2D Blu-ray and this is exactly the same at the disc which is already available.
Thor is a superhero with a difference, he’s not a human with special abilities, he’s a demigod, nearly immortal and with near limitless power in the guise of Mjolnir, his mighty hammer. However, he has still to control his emotions, being vain, arrogant and self centred it takes a supreme feat of sacrifice from both his father and himself before he realises his folly and dons the armour, cape and hammer to become the superhero who protects our realm. Kenneth Branagh takes on the directorial duties to explore the man behind the might, the sacrifice before the rise of this almighty hero and in doing so creates a superhero film to rival the best the genre has to offer. With superb performances from all the cast and housed within an effects extravaganza, Thor is a film to be reckoned with, even if cynics could simply palm it off as nothing but an advert for the up-and-coming Avengers movie. Personally I think it can stand alone, and I look forward to more journeys with the mighty Asgardian.
As a 3D Blu-ray package, Paramount has released a reasonably full up package, the picture, even though it is a convert from 2D to 3D is actually quite accomplished, while the sound will rock the foundations and blow the roof off, and with an extras package that covers most of the bases a 2D disc and a DVD with a digital copy makes this a very future-proof buy. Not sure I buy into the moniker of the limited edition 3D tag embossed on the cover, but if it is so, then those that can might want to pick it up before he summons the bridge back to Asgard.
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