Thor: Tales of Asgard Netflix | Google Play | SEN | YouTube DVD | Blu-ray
Directed by Sam Liu
Starring Matthew Wolf, Rick Gomez, Tara Strong, Cathy Weseluck, Ashleigh Ball
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Originally Released: May 17, 2011
While Marvel’s Thor is better known for coming from Asgard to his excursions on Earth in contemporary media, Tales of Asgard acts as more like a prequel. Set in other realms aside from Earth, the animated movie focuses on Thor as a teen, approaching adulthood, and beginning to learn the hard lessons necessitated as the son of Odin.
Coddled and shielded by Odin from the realms beyond Asgard, young Thor is hungry for adventure – having a high opinion of his own skills than they actually are. Requesting the assistance of his brother Loki, the pair creep onto the ship of the Warriors Three – in quest of the Lost Flaming Sword of Surtur, believed hidden in the realm of the Frost Giants of Jotunheim.
But the perils of the expedition are immense, and while the Frost Giants are caused to seek war against Asgard because of Thor’s actions, another sinister menace threatens the realm of Odin – and it comes from within their own borders…
Essentially set in the years prior to Mjolnir was ever handed to Thor, Tales of Asgard serves as somewhat of a prequel to the character’s adventures we’re familiar with. And while the concept is of interest, it seems we’ve been spoiled by the Marvel movies version of Thor in recent years where “magic and science are indecipherable.”
In contrast, Tales of Asgard plays across as more of a mythological twist on the Marvel comic stories, and it feels strange to return to this version of the God of Thunder where it was more about swordplay and magic than anything else.
The writing feels rather stiff through the first portions of the film, with excessive exposition to set up later parts. The pace is extraordinarily slow in the beginning, particular for an animated Marvel movie, though this does pick up during the concluding scenes. There are references and actions to the future of the characters, with cameos from Brunhilde and Amora, crucial pronouncements made by Thor and Loki, and a quick glance at Mjolnir stored at Asgard.
That being said, while the film does suffer from pace issues and stiffness, the closing does act as a strong redeeming quality of the movie. The confrontation and resolution at the end of Tales of Asgard makes for a satisfying and entertaining conclusion; though its closing coda is a little cringe-worthy in places.
The voice acting in Tales of Asgard is of a sound quality (pardon the pun), though Matthew Wolf as Thor is really good. He is deliberate with a shift in his tonality in portraying the character – and that is barely noticeable until the end of the movie. Where he begins with a snotty brat voice, at the conclusion, Thor’s voice is closer to that of a maturing young adult.
The animation quality is good as well, though tries to do a bit of an anime impersonation in moments, especially with the rendering of eye expressions. And yet, Thor: Tales of Asgard is a fun animated flick.
Kids will most definitely enjoy this one, though I feel many of the hardcore Marvel fans may perhaps find the overall experience to be wanting. The movie does suffer from pacing problems in the plot, and there are far better examples of superior animation from both Marvel and DC available for streaming.
If you’re a Marvel fan, you might consider checking it out at some stage – though you’d be best aided by taking a look at some of the other Marvel or DC animated movies before diving for this one.