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Thor: Tales of Asgard Blu-ray and DVD Combo Pack (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 5, 2011 by  



For those who are new to Marvel Comics’ “Thor” and want to know his back story when he was much younger, “Thor: Tales of Asgard” helps us understand the struggle between he and his father Odin and possibly what led his brother Loki towards evil.  Perhaps the most deepest of the Marvel Comics animated films yet, “Thor: Tales of Asgard” will surely please the older and newer fans.

Images courtesy of © 2011 Marvel Entertainment, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Thor: Tales of Asgard

DURATION: 77  minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 16×9 Widescreen Presentation (1:78:1 Ratio), English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English SDH, English and Spanish

RATED: NOT RATED

COMPANY: Marvel/Lionsgate

RELEASE DATE: May 17, 2011

Directed by Sam Liu

Screenplay by Greg Johnson

Characters by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee

Producer: Gary Hartle

Executive Producer: Eric S. Rollman

Co-Executive Producer: Stan Lee

Original Music by Guy Michelmore

FEATURING THE VOICES OF:

Matthew Wolf as Thor

Rick Gomez as Loki

Chris Britton as Odin

Clancy Brown as Frost Giant

Jay Brazeau as Volstagg

Paul Dobson as Hogun

Brian Drummond as Fenris

Jonathan Holmes as Fandral

Before he ever lifted his mighty hammer, there was the sword. Fantastic journeys beckon from the mysterious nine realms. Places of dark mists and fiery voids. Of winged creatures and giants in the ice. And the most alluring quest of all – the search for the legendary Lost Sword of Surtur. Hungry for adventure, Thor secretly embarks on the journey of a lifetime, joined by his loyal brother Loki, whose budding sorcery equips him with just enough magic to conjure up trouble, along with the Warriors Three – a band of boastful travelers reluctant to set sail on any adventure that might actually be dangerous. But what starts out as a harmless treasure hunt quickly turns deadly, and Thor must now prove himself worthy of the destiny he covets by saving Asgard itself.

If you are a longtime comic book fan, you probably heard about the Mighty Thor, a character which first appeared in the 83rd issue of “Journey Into Mystery” back in Aug. 1962 and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

It’s one of Marvel Comics long running hero-based comic book series and he added an intriguing dimension to Marvel Comics because he is one of the strongest characters in the Marvel Line-Up that will easily stand up to the Incredible Hulk without fear.  Thor is also one of the founding members of The Avengers and last, he brings Norse mythology to his comic book storyline.

But with a character who has been around for 50-years, how do you celebrate this icon?  Well, for one, a live action film is set for release and kick of the summer movies of 2011 and for the new generation of fans not so familiar with Thor’s history and his dysfunctional family which includes his brother/rival Loki and his strict father Odin, a new animated film titled “Thor: Tales of Asgard” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in May 201 courtesy of Lionsgate.

In “Thor: Tales of Asgard”, producer Craig Kyle and screenwriter Greg Johnson wanted to make sure that today’s readers are familiar with Thor and similar to how the “Young Indiana Jones Chronicles” set the storyline up for Indie’s adventures and what led him to become an archaeologist, “Thor: Tales of Asgard” which was inspired by the comic book mini-series “Thor: The Son of Asgard” and is about the younger years of Thor, before he became the hammer wielding icon that he is now.

“Thor: Tales of Asgard” is a story about a young teenager named Thor who loves to show off his strength in battle and loves how the audience reacts to him.  But not all are happy with Thor’s ego, especially the girl who likes him, Sif, who is a warrior preparing for Valkyrie training has had enough of Thor’s rising ego and tells him the truth that the only reason people are applauding him is that he is Odin’s son and unlike other warriors of Asgard who have fought battles outside of royal grounds, Thor has not done anything.  In fact, she goes as far as telling him that his father lets him win because he is the son of Odin.

The young Thor is angered by Sif’s comments and when he challenges her to a duel, Sif easily beats him with a wooden stick.

Hurt by Sif’s comments, Thor confronts his father to know the truth if fights were rigged by his father and his father tells him the truth that his opponents have let him win and that he can not allow the son of Odin to lose in a match in public.

Angered and embarrassed that all this time, Asgardians have saw him as a weak person who has not fought a true battle,  the young Thor wants to prove to himself and to everyone that he is a true warrior and will do all he can to find the legendary Lost Sword of Surtur and to prove to his father that he is not weak.

Unfortunately, Thor and his friends get into a lot of trouble.  From destruction of property to fights in establishments…Odin eventually finds out about how much trouble Thor has caused and is angered.  As Odin sends a family friend, a dark elf named Algrim, to find Thor.

Accompanied by his younger brother Loki, the two secretly hide in the ship of their Asgardian friends, Warriors Three.  the group go on their search for the legendary sword (without his father’s knowledge) in Jotunheim..

As Thor continues his quest, he gets himself into trouble once again, but this time, by accident, he accidentally does something terrible that may lead Asgard into a civil war.

VIDEO:

“Thor: Tales of Asgard” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  The animation features a good blend of colors from amber/earth-based colors in Asgard to blues and grays when Thor and the group approach the Frost Giants’ lair.  Colors are strong with scenes showcasing vibrant colors and blacks that are nice and deep.  I didn’t notice any banding, artifacts or edge enhancement on the Blu-ray release.  Overall, picture quality is very good for this film.

As for the animation, it is quite different where animation relies on strong lines and shading but not a lot of detail.  Backgrounds were also very good.

AUDIO:

If there is one thing to be said about the Marvel animated films, they definitely know how to enhance the film with use of sound.  Once again, we are given an English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless soundtrack plus a Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack.

While the opening DTS-HD intro may get one uber-excited, for “Thor: Tales of Asgard”, while dialogue and many action scenes are crystal clear from the central and front channels, its the major action scenes where you hear the immersive sound.

From the scenes like the bar fight in which you can hear the ambiance of fighting, broken glass and wood through the surround channels to the latter second half where most of the action takes place.  While, I do feel “Next Avengers” still has a one-up on audio, “Thor: Tales of Asgard” still sounds very good!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Thor: Tales of Asgard” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio commentary with Supervising Producer Craig Kyle and Screenwriter Greg Johnson – An upbeat commentary on how the film came to be, why it focuses on a younger Thor and more.
  • Audio commentary with Supervising Director Gary Hartle, Animation Director Sam Liu and Character Designer Phil Bourassa – An informative commentary that discusses the animation of the film and the character designs.
  • “Worthy: The Making of Thor: Tales of Asgard” featurette – (22:03) A featurette on the making of “Thor: Tales of Asgard” and how they wanted to reach out to the new generation of fans and to catch people up, especially before the live action film is released and how it was inspired by the “Thor: Son of Asgard” comic books.
  • The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Bonus Episode from the new hit TV series – Featuring Thor vs. The Wrecking Crew.

EXTRAS:

“Thor: Tales of Asgard” comes with a slip case cover and a DVD version of the film (including special features).

I was very fortunate to have a mother who appreciated my hobby of reading comic books.  And one of the comic books she would buy me when I was young was “The Mighty Thor”.  While the iconic hero has had its ups and downs in the comic book, may it be the “Thunderstrike” saga to Beta Ray Bill to the “Civil War Storyline and many storylines featuring the complications between Thor and Sif, Thor and his father Odin or the often problematic relationship between he and his younger brother Loki, suffice to say, because the storyline took place in Asgard and Midgard (Earth), “Thor” was a very different comic book series than any of the comics featuring a Marvel superhero.

But for the many years I have read Thor, rarely do you get to know much about his history, especially of his younger years, so I was intrigued by “Thor: Tales of Asgard”.  I have never read a comic book series before he became the muscular goldilocks always with his hammer, Mjolnir and flirting with the women of Earth.

In fact, some may be surprised to find out that the young Thor in this animated series is before he had the muscles, before he proved himself in battle or took on anything outside of Asgard.  The storyline is essentially about one young man wanting to prove himself that the son of Odin is in fact strong.  While the father who is looked as the all powerful Odin also has his problems trying to raise two young teenage boys and is unsure if he is too overprotective of his sons.

While “Thor: Tales of Asgard” does feature Loki, especially the magical power that he possesses, not much is focused on of how he became evil and why he and his brother would become lifelong enemies… but you do get an understanding that it was Thor who probably enhanced his younger brother Loki’s craving for more power and eventually leading him to do something in this animated film.

Also, you do get a little of the Sif likes Thor but Thor is unable to detect it.  These two have had this style of relationship even in their older years, so it was fun to see it showcased in the animated film.

And last, as for the son and father…their dysfunctional relationship has had its ups and downs since way back when I started reading the comic book series but it is quite interesting to see that relationship between Thor and Odin featured in this film.

As for the Blu-ray release, it’s great to have a combo-pack featuring both the feature film and the special features on Blu-ray and DVD.  Special features features two audio commentaries and a featurette on the making of “Thor: Tales of Asgard” plus a Thor episode from “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”.

I was quite pleased with this animated series as I felt the storyline was deeper and it was a different direction for Marvel to feature a younger Thor than a storyline featuring the Thunder God.  So,  for those expecting the Thor that they have read about in the comic books all these years, it is important to note that the Thor featured in this animated film is in his teens.

Still, I do credit Craig Kyle and screenwriter Greg Johnson for choosing to go this direction as people prepare to watch the live-action film.  The fact is while Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and the Fantastic Four were easily accessible characters to jump right into the storyline and enjoy the live-action film, even for comic book readers, Thor was not an easy comic book to jump right into.

In fact, the enjoyment of my reading Thor was primarily because of his role in “The Avengers” and from there, it took a lot of comic book reading to understand what was going on in Asgard.

So, it was a gutsy call by Craig Kyle and Greg Johnson to feature a teenage Thor before he became the iconic character but I do feel it serves the new generation of Marvel fans who are not familiar with his Asgardian storyline.

Overall, this is the probably the deepest Marvel animated feature yet.  It’s also a story that one may have never expected to see in an animated film from Marvel but with the live action film coming out, this is a good primer for those who become interested in Thor and wanting to learn more about Thor, the young teen before he became one of Marvel’s super icons.

Recommended!






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