THOR: TALES OF ASGARD (Blu-ray Edition)
Lionsgate Films | 2009 | 77 min | Not rated | May 17, 2011
Written by Jason Flick
May 24, 2011
Thor is a heavy hitter in the Marvel universe and a crucial member of The Avengers. A few weeks ago I reviewed the newest TV version of the God of Thunder in the new spin on the Avengers and that was just in time for the release of Thor on the big screen. Now we get another look at the Asgardian prince before he became the hammer wielding legend on Blu-Ray with the release of Thor: Tales of Asgard. In this new adventure, we get to see what will ultimately set things in motion for the hero Thor will ultimately become.
Tales of Asgard follows a younger prince Thor and his brother Loki who both have never left the comforts of their father’s kingdom. As Thor verges on the cusp of adulthood, he finds out from his whole life is not as it appears. When his Asgardian love interest, Sif, tells him that the elite guard have been taking it easy on him he confronts his father Odin. His father tells him that Sif’s words are true and that Odin-sons cannot appear weak. This sets off Thor as he needs to prove himself as he drags his brother along to set off for adventure. The two brothers then stow away on a boat navigated by The Warriors Three (Fandrel, Hogun and Volstagg) who are very good at exaggerating their tales of adventure. Only this time these five are in for an adventure that will ignite a war that has been in truce for years after they find the lost Sword of Surtur.
One of the things that I liked about Thor: Tales of Asgard is that the story has some very serious tones throughout. The severity of Thor’s actions and the past actions of another character are apparent as the scenes unfold and you realize that there is more at stake across the nine realms. The sword itself, forged by dwarves, is dangerous in anyone’s hands as it plays on the dark nature of its holder. Thor realizes this after he does something that he never meant to do. There is also the reversal of role personalities that I enjoyed. In other Thor media, Loki is always the troublemaker of the two brothers. In Tales of Asgard, Thor is the one that causes most of the trouble while Loki is the calm reason that we are not used to seeing.
While I haven’t seen the live action Thor yet, I really enjoyed this animated precursor to all the other Thor media out there. Directors Sam Liu and Gary Hartle along with writers Greg Johnson and Craig Kyle have created an engaging story that is a little darker at heart than most of the marvel animated films that I’ve seen in recent years. All of the guys that worked on Thor: Tales of Asgard have been doing a lot of the recent films to be released by Marvel and I think they had a really good chemistry here. The story is meaningful and tells a side of Thor that we’re just not used to seeing. I’m also a huge fan of fantasy animated films and this one ranks high on my list and I liked the reference to one of the greatest sci-fi films of all times.
The world of Asgard, Jotunheim and all the other locations seen in Thor: Tales of Asgard are beautifully designed and displayed in 1080p AVC widescreen format. The character models are also top notch in their designs by Phil Bourassa. The key characters such as Thor and Loki carry some resemblance of their older selves in teen form. I also like the artistic styling of the lighting and the gorgeous backdrops. Tales of Asgard features a lot of different color palettes that really sets the mood and energy for the story. For instance Asgard features rich and vibrant colors while the frozen land of Jotunheim is shown in cool blues and muted tones. The lighting also looks great as most of the shadows are created with soft colors and without very many hard lines. I also loved the introduction to the film that played out in a very artistic old comic style featuring different shades of earth tones as red and gold colors. The animation if you look closely, as mentioned in the commentary, is actually the locations seen in the film in order of happening.
Thor: Tales of Asgard is full of great music and features a voice cast that is actually quite good. Presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, the epic score sounds amazing on the proper system and the voices are as clear as ever. I am particularly impressed with the voice work of John Novak as his portrayal of Thrym, the frost giant king. He practically whispers in the film yet carries such depth in his speech compared to the other giants. Another scene stealer is that of the Warriors Three especially when it comes to anything coming out of the mouth of Fandral voiced by Alistair Abell. He’s absolutely hilarious with some of his one-liners. Matthew Wolf, Rick Gomez and Tara Strong round out the strong voice cast as Thor, Loki and Sif respectively.
Thor: Tales of Asgard on Blu-ray comes with a fair bit of additional content for the $17 dollar price tag. Contained on the Blu-ray disc is a feature called “Worthy: The Making of Thor: Tales of Asgard” which was pretty interesting. I also enjoyed the Bonus episode featuring Thor from the new “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!” show. For those that like to get an insider’s perspective on the film there are two feature length commentaries featuring the director, screen writers, character designers and producers that I found even more interesting than the “making of” feature. Thor: Tales of Asgard as comes packaged with a standard DVD version of the film as well for those on the go.
I have to say that Thor: Tales of Asgard is probably one of my new top favorites when it comes to Marvel animated feature films. I think the story is a lot richer than others that I’ve seen and I’m a big fan of fantasy films so this one was a lot of fun to watch. I loved the art style and the 7.1 audio really brought out the film’s score as well as the fine voice acting. I was also impressed with the audio commentary as it’s nice to hear how the crew put a good detail of care and work into making this an enjoyable film. The Thor: Tales of Asgard Blu-Ray + DVD Combo Pack is a great addition to the marvel lineup and a must for you Marvel film collectors out there.