ASPECT RATIO: 1.78:1 enhanced for widescreen TVs (1080p High Definition)
RUNNING TIME: 77 minutes
RATING: Not rated
AUDIO: English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
SUBTITLES: English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Spanish
SPECIAL FEATURES: “Worthy: The Making of Thor: Tales of Asgard” Documentary, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Bonus Episode, Trailer Gallery.
COMMENTARY: Two commentaries, one featuring Supervising Producer Craig Kyle and screenwriter Greg Johnson, the second featuring Supervising Director Gary Hartle, Director Sam Liu, and Character Designer Phil Bourassa
DVD SPECS (non-high definition)
Identical to the Blu-ray version, with the following exceptions:
AUDIO: English Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0
SPECIAL FEATURES: Trailer Gallery not included on the standard DVD
The animated tale follows a young Thor as he defies his father and sets out on a quest for a mythical but dangerous sword. Accompanied by his brother Loki, Thor finds his rash decisions have grave consequences for all of Asgard.
Producer and Supervising Director: Gary Hartle
Screen story by: Greg Johnson and Craig Kyle
I’ve watched a lot of superhero animation in recent years. I consider myself a fan of the original Bruce Timm Batman cartoons, as well as the Fleischer Superman cartoons of the 1940s, but I’ve grown weary of much of the recent animated comic book efforts. Too many were lazy attempts to capitalize on the superhero craze, and I have found the budget-minded animation boring at times. In spite of all that, Thor: Tales of Asgard, I’m happy to say, is an enjoyable animated film that will please fans of the original comic book, as well as new fans brought in by the live-action film.
Fans will not get the hammer-pounding Thor they are familiar with; instead, this prequel story of sorts follows a teen-aged Thor as he seeks to prove himself worthy as a warrior and leader. This Thor is cocky and ambitious, but quickly learns that his actions have far-reaching effects. When he accidentally brings Asgard to the brink of war, the young Thor must learn when to make peace, and when to fight.
The story isn’t as epic as the live-action film, of course, but it is no less enjoying. Asgard gets a nice treatment here, as we see several lands and creatures that give the story a truly fantasy-like feel. The story moves along quickly and there is a satisfying conclusion. Characters are well-developed their interaction feels real and unforced. Thor fans will even see a young Loki before he gives in to his darker half. There is even some foreboding, which is a nice touch.
Having well-developed characters allows Tales of Asgard to inject some humor to keep it from getting too serious or boring. In fact, it zooms along at 77 minutes. While I’ve been disappointed with the effort put into some Marvel animation projects recently, Tales of Asgard impressed me with their effort and execution. It’s a perfect companion to the new live-action Thor movie.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
Tales of Asgard features an excellent video presentation. The image was bright and vivid on the 46 inch HDTV I viewed the Blu-ray on. There was a lot of attention given to the look of this movie, especially backgrounds, and you’ll appreciate the effort on a big screen in high definition. The image on standard DVD was excellent as well.
The Blu-ray audio is a full, enveloping 7.1 experience, which gives the sound effects and score a real auditory pedestal. Voices are crystal clear and easy to separate from the rest of the sound. The 5.1 DVD mix is just as good, as you’ll be hard-pressed to hear a real difference.
Special features here are excellent, considering this is a straight to video animated film. Two commentaries give you more information than you could ever want. The “making of” documentary is excellent, and gives the viewer real insight into what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish. It is obvious by watching that they have a real affection for the Thor mythos and wanted to do it justice. The “bonus” episode of the new Avengers cartoon was an especially nice touch.
BUY IT OR NETFLIX IT?
OVERALL GRADE: A-
This is a must-buy for any Marvel or animation fan. This could have easily been a by-the-numbers flick, but the creative team really put forth the effort to make this a high-quality animated film. It is thoroughly enjoyable and suitable for young kids to adults, and hopefully we will get more Marvel animation in this vein from Lionsgate.
Thor: Tales of Asgard is available May 17, 2011 on Blu-ray (in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack), standard DVD, and on-demand from Lionsgate.