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Sam Liu
Matthew Wolf, Jay Brazeau, Chris Britton, Clancy Brown, Grey DeLisle, Paul Dobson, Brian Drummond, Rick Gomez, Jonathan Holmes
Writing Credits:
Greg Johnson, Jack Kirby (characters), Stan Lee (characters)

Before the hammer ... Came the sword.

Before he ever lifted his might hammer ... Fantastic journeys beckon from the mysterious nine realms. Places of dark mists and fiery voids. Of winged creatures and giants in the ice. And of 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.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 77 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 5/17/2011

• Audio Commentary with Supervising Producer Craig Kyle and Screenwriter Greg Johnson
• Audio Commentary with Supervising Director/Producer Gary Hartle, Director Sam Liu and Character Designer Phil Bourassa
• “Worthy: The Making of Thor: Tales of Asgard” Featurette
The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Bonus Episode
• Trailer Gallery
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Thor: Tales Of Asgard [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 9, 2011)

With the Thunder God currently ascendant on the big screen, it became a good time to look at a related adventure. In this domain, we find a 2011 direct-to-video animated film called Thor: Tales of Asgard.

Tales lets us meet a teen, somewhat spoiled Thor (Matthew Wolf). In Asgard, he gets pampered and not really challenged in battle, which means he believes he possesses greater skills than he does. A friend named Sif (Tara Strong) tells him this, and Thor petitions his father Odin (Christopher Britton) to let him leave Asgard and pursue real adventure and glory.

Unhappy with this decision, Thor decides to go anyway. Along with his magic-wielding younger brother Loki (Rick Gomez) and three boasting warriors, this leads him on a quest for a mystical item called the Sword of Surtur – and into the land of the Frost Giants, where danger awaits.

As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, back in my mid-teens, I became a major comic book fan. I gobbled down from 14 to 16 or so, I gobbled down all the DC and Marvel material I could buy; no title was too obscure – or too lame – to escape my gaze.

This obviously meant that I bought many an issue of Thor, but I never did so with great relish. For me, Thor was a second-tier superhero. I preferred him to a number of others but didn’t love his adventures; they were enjoyable enough but not great most of the time.

I suspect my lukewarm affection for the character stems for my general disinterest in Norse – or any other - mythology. While you don’t have to like that subject to enjoy Thor, it sure helps. The character and his tales are steeped enough in that realm that it becomes tough to like his adventures without fondness for his origins.

Asgard comes with those same issues – for me, at least – but it does differ from the comic book character I remember since it concentrates on teen Thor. Normally I’m not wild about “Li’l Superhero” stories, but this one delivers a decent take on the topic. Not that it delivers anything particularly original, as it’s little more than a “coming of age” story.

That’s an old theme, and Asgard handles it fairly well. The narrative itself lacks much real clarity, as the topics related to the Sword veer toward MacGuffin territory; they seem to exist mostly to give the tale an excuse to include a variety of places and peoples.

Which is fine, as the story results in reasonably good action. We follow Thor and company on some involving battles and quests, and we enjoy ourselves along the way. We can’t say that anything especially dynamic occurs, but not every adventure can dazzle, can it?

And this one definitely doesn’t dazzle, but it proves to be more entertaining than I feared. Again, the mythology doesn’t do much for me, and the “coming of age” theme threatens to become trite and tired. Nonetheless, Asgard delivers an interesting 77 minutes of action and adventure. While it never threatens to become a great animated flick, it’s more than serviceable.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio C+/ Bonus B

Thor: Tales of Asgard appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. I felt consistently pleased with this strong presentation.

No issues with sharpness emerged. The movie always came across as tight and well-defined, so don’t expect any signs of softness. Jaggies and moiré effects also remained absent, and the image lacked edge haloes or artifacts. In addition, print flaws were a non-factor and didn’t appear at any point.

In terms of colors, Asgard went with a broad palette that favored a variety of earthy hues. The tones looked solid, as they showed positive richness and vivacity. Blacks were deep and tight, while shadows showed nice clarity. Across the board, the image worked well.

I thought the DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of Asgard seemed less satisfying, as it was rather average. The forward channels brought out the majority of the material. Music presented decent stereo imaging, while effects cropped up in logical spots and blended well.

The surrounds also contributed good information. For the most part, these reinforced the forward channels, but they also contributed a fair amount of unique material. These instances mainly occurred during storms or bigger action scenes. The back speakers brought out a decent sense of space and environment, but they weren’t especially involving; the track remained acceptable but a little bland.

Audio quality tended to be mediocre as well. Speech was intelligible but a little thin and sibilant. Though clear, music lacked much punch; the score had reasonable delineation but not a lot of power. The same went for effects; while they presented decent accuracy, they failed to deliver much oomph or impact. All of this left the mix as a “C+”; it was acceptable but not especially involving.

Asgard comes with a fairly broad roster of extras, and these launch with two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from supervising producer Craig Kyle and screenwriter Greg Johnson. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/character subjects, cast and performances, artwork and visual design, music and editing, and a few other areas.

Though it touches on a mix of topics, much of the track sticks with story/character issues. That’s fine, as Kyle and Johnson explore those pretty well. They give us a good overview of different concerns/decisions and also help tie in Asgard to the big-screen Thor movie. This never becomes a particularly great commentary, but it’s informative enough, and its light humor helps make it fun.

For the second track, we hear from supervising director/producer Gary Hartle, director Sam Liu and character designer Phil Bourassa. The three sit together for a running, screen-specific discussion of character and visual design, animation and effects, story areas, music and audio, and some additional topics.

The second commentary proves less effective than the first. This isn’t because the participants repeat info from the prior track; it’s because they don’t say much at all. We get some occasional notes but much of the piece just relates the story or praises the film. Though this isn’t a total waste of a commentary, it’s not a very interesting one.

Next comes the 22-minute, four-second Worthy: The Making of Thor: Tales of Asgard. This includes notes from Kyle, Hartle, Johnson, executive producer Eric S. Rollman, associate producer Joshua Fine, Perception associate creative director John LePore, and composer Guy Michelmore. “Worthy” looks at the project’s origins and development, story/character subjects, script evolution, influences from the comic books, visual design and animation techniques, music, and a few other areas.

I don’t expect much from brief “making of” programs, but “Worthy” works pretty well. It’s surprisingly free from hyperbole and fluff, as it offers a nice little exploration of the production. It proves to be low-key and informative.

After this we get a bonus episode of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. It runs 23 minutes, 10 seconds as it shows Loki’s attempts to overthrow Asgard – and the work of Thor to stop him. This isn’t an Avengers tale, as we find none of them other than Thor. And it’s not an especially entertaining tale, either, as it’s the kind of semi-pompous material that didn’t much appeal to me as a kid. It’s not bad but I’d have been more pleased with an actual Avengers story – and also if it wasn’t a cliffhanger. Who puts a cliffhanger on a Blu-ray without its finale as well?

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Hulk Vs. Wolverine, Hulk Vs. Thor, Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow and Ultimate Avengers 2. We also find these in a trailer gallery. No ad for Thor appears here.

Finally, a second disc provides a DVD Copy of Thor: Tales of Asgard. This one comes packed with plenty of special features and seems to be the same DVD that’s available on its own. That makes it a nice bonus here.

Although I don’t think Thor: Tales of Asgard makes me a bigger fan of the character, it does provide pretty good action and adventure. The animated program delivers a fun tale and enough excitement to succeed. The Blu-ray offers very good picture along with mediocre audio and a decent set of supplements. This ends up as a fairly satisfying superhero piece.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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