Blu-ray: Recommended
3.5 Stars out of 5
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List Price 14.99
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3rd Party 12.99
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Release Date: May 17th, 2011
Movie Release Year: 2011
Release Country: United States
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Thor: Tales of Asgard

Review Date May 1st, 2011 by
Overview - 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.
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  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs: Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack
    BD25 disc
    Region A
    Video Resolution/Codec: 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
    Length:77
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):1.78:1
    English Descriptive Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
    Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
    Subtitles/Captions: English, English SDH, English
    Special Features: Worthy: The Making of Thor: Tales of Asgard featurette
    Audio commentary with Supervising Director Gary Hartle, Animation Director Sam Liu and Character Designer Phil Bourassa
    Audio commentary with Supervising Producer Craig Kyle and Screenwriter Greg Johnson
    The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes Bonus Episode from the new hit TV series
    Movie Studio: Lionsgate
    Release Date: May 17th, 2011

Story Review Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

3.5 Stars out of 5

In February of 2010, the Marvel Animated Features Blu-ray release of 'Planet Hulk' contained a quick teaser for the next title in the series: 'Thor: Tales of Asgard.' That...was some time ago. The theatrical release of 'Thor' seems to be the cause of this delay, and it makes perfect sense to try to build anticipation for the big budgeted action film by making the cartoon an unofficial lead-in, to get people psyched up for the character. Of course, this would be a gamble if the cartoon were to be as awful as 'The Invincible Iron Man.'

Taking the norse god and comic book legend and translating him to his formative years, before he had his hands on the hammer Mjolnir, 'Thor: Tales of Asgard' isn't so much an origin story as it is just a tale of a young hero, who would go on to become a greater, iconic figure. With a spoiled Thor chomping at the bit for a taste of real action, disobeying a direct order from his father Odin doesn't seem like much of a stretch. Stowing away with his brother Loki, aboard the ship of the Warriors Three, in search of the legendary Lost Sword of Surtur. The young Thor accidentally violates a peace treaty, though, and puts all of Asgard in danger.

'Thor: Tales of Asgard' is not the best, nor the worst feature in this line of animated movies from Marvel. 'Next Avengers' already had a teen Thor-like character, his "daughter," so the territory ventured here is hardly blasphemous to series fans. What it is, though, is a good introduction to the character, especially for those unaware and interested due to the hype surrounding the Branagh directed feature. We see a character come full circle in a limited period of time, going from a naive, untalented, cocky, spoiled brat into a responsible, daring, trusting hero who puts everything on the line. Better still, the transition is believable, as throughout the movie we see the gradual progression, the life changing events and circumstances.

While I've never been a big fan of the Thor franchise, mostly due to what I feel is an inaccessible main character and a legion of less than interesting villains (save for the iconic Loki and Enchantress foes), I will say that this feature is very enjoyable, for fans and non-fans alike. Sure, I wish that we saw less of Sif, and more of Amora and especially Loki, but the balance between the Warriors Three and Thor in the development of the plot is damn near perfect. With such an iconic villain, Thor's brother no less, I would have thought we'd see a progression from neutrality to evil, much like see see the opposite of with Thor himself as the film wears on, but it does not happen. Instead, it's last minute, out of nowhere character deviation that sets Loki down the path of evil here, and the god of mischief just doesn't seem all that mischievous because of it, with no plotting, no schemes, just cowering.

The animation itself is quite good, easily besting that found in the majority of the Marvel Animated Features lineup. Backgrounds and settings are superb, while character designs are quite sound, with no hulked up, ridiculously top heavy stereotypical cartoon males (or females) making a mockery out of anatomy. The voice acting, though pretty damn good as a whole, is a tad awkward, as Thor's voice, provided by Matthew Wolf, does not seem to match up with the age shown for the character, as he's too prim and proper (the writing's fault) and too authoritative and powerful (the performer's and director's faults).

'Thor: Tales of Asgard' does tell a great story, though, with the Frost Giants of Jotunheim making for good, believable, powerful villains, rather than just norse god fodder. The quest for the legendary sword opens up a history book of information on the fictional realm, which is very enjoyable, and the continued conflicts of the Asgardian races are most certainly interesting enough to delve into once the feature is over. The film creates a good balance of seriousness and the occasional comic relief to keep the film buoyant, and fight sequences are all so very different that they never get boring. While it isn't the best animated film to come from Marvel, it is most certainly a fitting, and pretty damn good short introduction to a character sure to make some serious box office bank in coming months.

The Disc: Vital Stats

'Thor: Tales of Asgard' hits Blu-ray via Lionsgate with a Region A locked BD25 disc, with a bonus DVD of the film making this a combo pack. While there are no pre-menu trailers on the DVD, there are three on the Blu-ray that must be skipped individually. There is a slipcover that mimics the cover art on first pressings, and as 'Planet Hulk' and 'Hulk Vs.' showed, they tend to be in short supply. Pre-menu, there are three trailers, for 'Hulk Vs,' 'Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow,' and 'Ultimate Avengers 2.' They cannot be skipped as a whole, just one at a time.

  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack
    BD25 disc
    Region A
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    1080p/AVC MPEG-4
    Length:77
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.78:1
    Audio Formats:
    English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
    Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
    Subtitles/Captions:
    English, English SDH, English
    Special Features:
    Worthy: The Making of Thor: Tales of Asgard featurette
    Audio commentary with Supervising Director Gary Hartle, Animation Director Sam Liu and Character Designer Phil Bourassa
    Audio commentary with Supervising Producer Craig Kyle and Screenwriter Greg Johnson
    The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes Bonus Episode from the new hit TV series
    Movie Studio: Lionsgate
    Release Date: May 17th, 2011

Video Review

4.5 Stars out of 5

Past entries in the Marvel Animated Features line have disappointed me when it came to their video presentations. Some have overloaded discs with extra content at the expense of video compression. With 'Thor: Tales of Asgard,' the new bar has been set for this particular line, as the picture is damn near flawless. With a 1080p, 1.78:1 framed AVC MPEG-4 encode, this is 77 minutes worth of visual awesome.

At first, I found myself distracted by the odd character outlines, with flesh having a weird brown outline and everything else sporting a normal black line, as the brown sometimes was not even and looked somewhat ugly, particularly in eyes, which had both colors. As the film rode on, though, I realized my biggest complaint about the video was something as silly as an aesthetic choice in the production of the cartoon, so that really left an impression. Banding is damn near non-existent, with only a few questionable spots, which are often very minor, and aliasing only appears in a few awkward jaggy outlines that you have to nitpick to spot. Detail levels are superb for this type of animation, with crisp, bright, beautiful colors that can be quite impressive.

'Thor: Tales of Asgard' is a great looking disc, that easily rivals anything from the DC Universe series of Blu-rays.

Audio Review

3.5 Stars out of 5

While the DVD release of 'Thor: Tales of Asgard' only has a 5.1 track, the Blu-ray release boasts a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix that...I really can't say I was all that impressed with. Bass levels are always too light for what is shown, not showing up often enough to make a difference. Rear speakers are surprisingly inactive, as are movement and localization effects, and are only really good for a few fight sequences. This feature does sport superb clarity and prioritization, and some nice high ends, but aside from that, I really wish this one could have been much more.

Special Features

2.5 Stars out of 5

The second disc in this release is a retail, non-skimped DVD copy, which is pretty darn great, for the kids.

  • Audio Commentaries - There are two tracks, one with Craig Kyle and Greg Johnson, the other with Gary Hartle, Sam Liu, and Phil Bourassa. The Kyle and Johnson track is great in terms of coverage, and how it isn't dominated by one participant. The track is warm, full of love, and interesting moments and insights. The Hartle, Liu, and Bourassa track is less warm, friendly, and inviting. It's also less interesting. They're more technical about the creation aspects, rather than the story and development aspects. If you only visit one, you know which one to hit!
  • Worthy: The Making Of (HD, 22 min) - The ideas and goals of this cartoon, as a setup to the feature length film, are discussed, as are the themes and scenes of the film. Additionally, some comparisons to the previous Marvel Animated feature, half of 'Hulk Vs.,' are made. Not a bad feature, but it is definitely not necessary to enjoy this film.
  • 'The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes' Bonus Episode (HD, 23 min) - Episode 'Thor The Mighty' from the animated series is presented as a bonus, in high def, using Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. This episode is the first appearance of Thor in the series, as well as the Wrecking Crew, also known as a crappy group of jobber villains, as a "daring" heist on Earth is thwarted by some oversized blonde guy with a hammer. Loki and Frost Giants take on Thor and the Warriors Three in another story found in the episode. If that sounds a bit bi-polar to you, don't worry, it is.

Final Thoughts

I didn't have much hope for 'Thor: Tales of Asgard.' The preview on 'Hulk Vs' was less than interesting, and the "child Thor" aspect did not seem to be one that would work. It also seemed too darned close to the 'Next Avengers' cartoon. Marvel Animated Features' newest film isn't bad by any means, though. The Blu-ray release has absolutely stunning video, solid audio, and some good extras. An easy recommendation!

Sale Price 13.8
List Price 14.99
Buy Now
3rd Party 12.99
In Stock.
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  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack
    BD25 disc
    Region A
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    1080p/AVC MPEG-4
    Length:77
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.78:1
    Audio Formats:
    English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
    Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
    Subtitles/Captions:
    English, English SDH, English
    Special Features:
    Worthy: The Making of Thor: Tales of Asgard featurette
    Audio commentary with Supervising Director Gary Hartle, Animation Director Sam Liu and Character Designer Phil Bourassa
    Audio commentary with Supervising Producer Craig Kyle and Screenwriter Greg Johnson
    The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes Bonus Episode from the new hit TV series
    Movie Studio: Lionsgate
    Release Date: May 17th, 2011